Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Fiscal Flycatcher (Melaenornis silens)


French: Gobemouche fiscal German: Würgerschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas fiscal

Lanius silens


, 1809,

“forests of the Auteniquois” = George, Western Cape, South Africa


Often separated in monospecific Sigelus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. s. lawsoni Clancey, 1966 – S & SE Botswana and N South Africa (Northern Cape E to North West Province and extreme W Free State).
  • M. s. silens (Shaw, 1809) – South Africa from SW Western Cape and Karoo E to Free State, Northern Province and interior KwaZulu-Natal, also W Swaziland and Lesotho lowlands; non-breeding also on coastal plain from S Mozambique S to KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–20 cm; 21–37 g. Male nominate race has forehead, crown, lores, cheek, nape and upperparts black with bluish gloss, rump slightly greyer; upperwing black,... read more


    Mostly silent; calls very quiet, audible only at close range. Song a long series of phrases made up... read more


    Open country with scattered trees, mainly in small, dense clumps of larger trees and thickets;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, including ants (Formicidae) and foraging harvester termites (Hodotermes mossambicus); also takes moths (... read more


    Recorded in all months, but generally starts in Jul, peak Oct–Dec, and few records after Mar. Monogamous; solitary nester,... read more


    Resident in parts of range, partial migrant elsewhere. In Botswana, resident around Lobatse, but... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common over most of its range; scarce in some non-breeding-season bushveld and lowveld habitats. S Mozambique... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Fiscal Flycatcher (Melaenornis silens). 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 27 February 2020).