Restless hunter

I must have watched Restless Flycatchers hundreds of times, yet this one seen hunting yesterday near the Newstead Cemetery really set me thinking.

It was working its way along the fence line, stopping regularly for up to a minute, its harsh insect-like ‘scissor-grinding’ call uttered incessantly along the way. Occasionally the bird would hover in typical fashion, alighting a number of times to snatch an insect from near or on the ground. What struck me was that its call seemed to be directed towards the source of its prey – could it be that the flycatcher was actually tempting insects with some form of crude mimicry?

I’d be interested in any thoughts on the matter.

RF1

Restless Flycatcher, Newstead Cemetery, 28th May 2016

RF4

II

RF2

III

RF3

IV

6 responses to “Restless hunter

  1. What an interesting idea! I’d love to know what you find out. And are other birds doing the same – making sounds which are more than communicating with each other? Fascinating thought!

  2. I was sure I had read about this somewhere and I just found it.
    In the Strath Creek Landcare Group booklet called: ‘Birds of the lower King Parrot Valley ‘ it says: “Restless Flycatcher has an unusual rolling chirring call which it emits while hovering, apparently to disturb insect prey on the ground.”
    We love hearing the calls of our Restless Flycatchers at our Violet Town property and watching them hover.

    • Thanks Libby – I wonder what the source of that note is … I’m going to have a look in HANZAB this week to see if there are any more clues.
      Cheers, geoff

  3. Carlo Canteri

    I’d suggest it may be related to various oriental martial arts principles: using and projecting the voice in a way which will inhibit or disadvantage an opponent in some way. In this case the fly-catcher’s ‘voicing’ may be causing prey to reveal itself or perhaps ‘paralyse’ it enabling the bird to collect…??

    • Interesting and compelling theory Carlo – I’m digging to see if I can find out more.
      All the best, Geoff

  4. I too have thought for a long time that the Restless Flycatcher’s amazing call is actually an invitation to insects to “come out and fight”. As the bird is so successful in its hunting, this may be what is happening, in part anyway.
    As the bird hovers over a suitable area, it could also be the movement coupled with the call that attracts the insects, especially spiders.

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