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the web of life in southern Africa

Bradornis pallidus (Pale flycatcher, Pallid flycatcher) 

[= Melaenornis pallidus

MuiskleurvlieŽvanger [Afrikaans]; Vale vliegenvanger [Dutch]; Gobemouche p‚le [French]; Fahlschnšpper [German]; Papa-moscas-pŠlido [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae > Genus: Bradornis

Bradornis pallidus (Pale flycatcher, Pallid flycatcher)  Bradornis pallidus (Pale flycatcher, Pallid flycatcher) 

Pale flycatcher, Tanzania. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Pale flycatcher, Eastern Cape, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Ethiopia and Sudan through Tanzania, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, north-eastern South Africa, northern Botswana and Namibia. It generally prefers broad-leaved woodland such as miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, also occupying arid savanna and Afromontane forest.

Distribution of Pale flycatcher in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


A bird in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia was found with Haemoproteus blood parasites.


It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging from a low perch, from which it pounces on prey on the ground. It may also join mixed-species foraging flocks, gleaning prey from leaves and branches and occasionally hawking insects aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is built by the female in about a week, consisting of a cup which is usually built of long, dark stems of weeds with flower tops, grass, lichen and dead leaves, usually lined with fine rootlets and feathers. It is typically placed in between a few twigs in the uppermost branches of a smaller tree surrounded by larger trees, usually around 2-3 metres above ground.
Bradornis pallidus (Pale flycatcher, Pallid flycatcher)  

Pale flycatcher at its nest with chick, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-January, peaking from about September-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14 days, occasionally taking a break to go and forage.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults and are brooded the first five days of their lives, eventually leaving the nest at about 17 days old. They remain with their parents for quite a long time, in fact there is one record of a fledgling only becoming independent at over one and a half years old!


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.