Family Fairy Flycatcher and allies (Stenostiridae)

Least Concern

Fairy Flycatcher (Stenostira scita)


French: Mignard enchanteur German: Elfenschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas duende

Muscicapa scita


, 1818,

Lower Orange River, Cape Province, South Africa


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. scita (Vieillot, 1818) – SW South Africa (S Northern Cape and NW Western Cape); non-breeding N to S Namibia, S Botswana and occasionally Zimbabwe.
  • S. s. saturatior Lawson, 1962 – S South Africa (Western Cape, Eastern Cape); non-breeding also N to W Free State.
  • S. s. rudebecki Clancey, 1955 – Lesotho highlands; non-breeding South Africa (Free State, Gauteng highveld, highlands of KwaZulu-Natal).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 4–8 g. Distinctive flycatcher with long, graduated tail. Male has crown to rump uniform dark blue-grey, very slightly tinged olive; lores, ear-coverts... read more


    Mostly silent. Song variable and squeaky, a series of thin “tsee-tsi-zee-tseepy-tsweeu... read more


    Breeds in dry Karoo bush and scrub, fynbos (macchia), bushy and woody hillsides, thorn thickets,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates, including flies (Diptera), bugs (Hemiptera), very small beetles (Coleoptera),... read more


    Breeds Jul–Dec (peaks Aug–Sept in winter-rainfall areas of SW, and Oct–Nov in summer-rainfall areas) in W Cape and Karoo... read more


    Winters throughout most of breeding range, but migratory movements occur. In Botswana and in N... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to abundant. May be adversely affected by habitat fragmentation; at Gariep Dam, in Northern Cape, absent from wooded islands, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Fairy Flycatcher (Stenostira scita). 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 5 April 2020).