Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)


French: Gobemouche sombre German: Dunkelschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas sombrío
Other common names: Dusky-brown Flycatcher

Butalis adusta


, 1828,

“Auteniquoi” = George, Western Cape, South Africa


Race poensis was formerly referred to sometimes as obscura, but latter name is preoccupied. Exhibits considerable clinal and intrapopulation variability (also variation in appearance of skins arising from different taxidermal procedures). Up to 20 races have been recognized, but many of these considered unwarranted: thus, albiventris (highlands of W Cameroon), kumboensis (montane forest of SW Cameroon) and okuensis (montane forest of Mt Oku, in W Cameroon) treated as synonyms of poensis; grotei (N Cameroon and NW Central African Republic), subtilis (E DRCongo), interposita (Molo Forest, in Kenyan highlands) and chyulu (Chyulu Range, in Kenya) synonymized with pumila; angolensis (Angolan plateau E to NW Zambia) subsumed into subadusta; and roehli (SE Kenya and NE Tanzania) is merged with murina. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. poensis (Alexander, 1903) – highlands of SE Nigeria and W & C Cameroon (N to Tibati and Mt Genderu), and Bioko.
  • M. a. pumila (Reichenow, 1892) – N Cameroon (Adamawa Plateau) E to NW Central African Republic, and S South Sudan and E DRCongo (S to N Katanga) E to Uganda, W & C Kenya (except Mt Marsabit), W Rwanda, W Burundi and NW & N Tanzania (including Mt Ketumbeine).
  • M. a. minima Heuglin, 1862 – C Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • M. a. marsabit (van Someren, 1931) – N Kenya (Mt Marsabit).
  • M. a. murina (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – SE Kenya (Taita Hills) and NE Tanzanian highlands.
  • M. a. fuelleborni Reichenow, 1900 – highlands of W & S Tanzania (S from Ngurus).
  • M. a. subadusta (Shelley, 1897) – Angola (C plateau from S Cuanza Sul E to N Moxico and S Lunda Sul, S to N & W Huíla), SE DRCongo, S Tanzania (Matengo Highlands), N & C Zambia, Malawi, E highlands of Zimbabwe, and Mozambique (N of R Limpopo).
  • M. a. mesica Clancey, 1974 – Zimbabwe (except E highlands).
  • M. a. fuscula Sundevall, 1850 – N & E South Africa and Swaziland; non-breeding also S Mozambique.
  • M. a. adusta (Boie, 1828) – S South Africa (E to R Umzimvubu and East Griqualand).
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 10–13 g. Nominate race is uniform dark brown above, crown sometimes slightly dark-streaked; narrow buffish crescent under eye, pale buff or whitish mark between... read more


    Song a hurried jumble of high-pitched, thin notes, including trills (Zimbabwe), or a measured... read more


    Edges and clearings of evergreen and riparian forest (absent from forest interior), forested... read more

    Food and feeding

    Winged insects, including small beetles (Coleoptera), dipterans e.g. hoverfies (Syrphidae) and midges (Chironomidae), small hymenopterans,... read more


    Breeds in Jan–Apr in Cameroon, Jul and Oct–Dec in E DRCongo, in all months in E Africa, Sept–Oct in Angola, Oct–Dec... read more


    Resident over much of range; partly migratory in S (S of 10º S). A dry-season visitor to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally frequent to common over much of its range, but scarce in Zambia (Northern Province and Luangwa Valley); rare in Eritrea. Distribution may... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).