Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Pale Flycatcher (Agricola pallidus)


French: Gobemouche pâle German: Fahlschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas pálido

Musicapa [sic] pallida

J. W. von Müller

, 1851,

Kordofan, Sudan


Race subalaris does not intergrade with griseus in SE Kenya, and together with erlangeri may represent a separate species. Taxonomic status of bafirawari uncertain; sometimes considered a distinct species, but probably a variant of present species. Geographical limits of nominate race and modestus incompletely defined. Putative race nigeriae (described from upper R Benue, on Nigeria–Cameroon border) considered indistinguishable from modestus. Thirteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. p. pallidus (J. W. von Müller, 1851) – Pale Flycatcher – semi-arid regions from Senegal and Gambia E to N Ghana and C Mali, and N Nigeria to S Sudan, South Sudan (except E & SE) and W Ethiopia (R Baro); possibly also DRCongo (Uele district).
  • A. p. modestus (Shelley, 1873) – Guinea and SE Mali E (S of nominate) to W Central African Republic.
  • A. p. bowdleri (Collin & E. J. O. Hartert, 1927) – Eritrea to C Ethiopia (S to Arussi Plateau).
  • A. p. duyerali (Traylor, 1970) – NE Ethiopia (Duyer Ali) and C Somalia (el Bur).
  • A. p. parvus (Reichenow, 1907) – SW Ethiopia, E South Sudan (borders of R Baro), NE DRCongo (possibly Uele district) and NW Uganda (S to Masindi).
  • A. p. bafirawari (Bannerman, 1924) – extreme S Ethiopia and NE Kenya (Djiroko to Wajir and Garissa).
  • A. p. griseus (Reichenow, 1882) – extreme SE Kenya and C Tanzania S to N & E Zambia and N & C Malawi.
  • A. p. murinus (Hartlaub & Finsch, 1870) – Gabon and Congo E to SE South Sudan (Didinga Mts), W & S Kenya, N Tanzania and Uganda (except NW), and S to NE Namibia, N Botswana, W & S Zambia and Zimbabwe (except SE).
  • A. p. aquaemontis (Stresemann, 1937) – C Namibia (Waterburg Plateau).
  • A. p. divisus (Lawson, 1961) – SE Zambia, S Malawi, SE Zimbabwe, Mozambique (S to Delagoa Bay), NE South Africa (Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces) and Swaziland.
  • A. p. sibilans (Clancey, 1966) – S Mozambique (S of Sul do Save) and NE South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal).
  • A. p. erlangeri (Reichenow, 1905) – S Somalia (Bardera and Serenli to Hanole).
  • A. p. subalaris (Sharpe, 1874) – East Coast Flycatcher – coastal and E Kenya (lower R Tana to Samburu) and Tanzania (coast S to Moa, inland to Amani).
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 16·5–28 g. Nominate race has head and upperparts, including side of neck, earth-brown; eyering pale buff; flight-feathers dark brown, primaries... read more


    Mostly silent. Song a jumble of harsh churring or raspy notes, including repetitions of such motifs... read more


    Woodland, including miombo (Brachystegia), Baikiaea and mopane woodland; wooded... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats mainly insects, especially beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), hymenopterans, lepidopterans (including caterpillars), bugs (... read more


    Breeds in Jun in Gambia, Apr–Jul in Ivory Coast, Apr–Aug in Ghana, Feb–Sept in Nigeria, May–Jul in Gabon, Apr... read more


    Nomadic or migratory in response to rains in some regions; mostly sedentary in S. Most movements... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Frequent to common over parts of range; uncommon in Swaziland, and rare at limits of range as in Gambia and Mali. Possibly uncommon over much of S... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2019). Pale Flycatcher (Agricola pallidus). 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 18 September 2019).