Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Small Niltava (Niltava macgrigoriae)


French: Gobemouche de McGrigor German: Feenblauschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas de McGrigor

Phœnicura MacGrigoriæ

E. Burton

, 1836,

western Himalayas


Species name sometimes erroneously listed as “macgregoriae”. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. m. macgrigoriae (E. Burton, 1836) – W & C Himalayas (from Uttarakhand to Sikkim and N West Bengal).
  • N. m. signata (McClelland, 1840) – E Himalayas E to NE India (Assam and Arunachal Pradesh S to Mizoram), N & E Myanmar, S China (SE Xizang and W & S Yunnan E to S Guangxi), N & W Thailand and N & C Indochina (S to C Annam); non-breeding also probably coast of SE China (Guangdong).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–14 cm; 11–13 g. Small niltava, a smaller version (about half-size) of N. grandis. Male nominate race has bright pale blue forehead reaching to eye,... read more


    Song a very thin, high-pitched, rising and then falling “twee-twee-ee-twee” or “tuwee tee tweee”,... read more


    Edges and clearings in humid submontane and montane broadleaf evergreen forest, also shrubberies... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet small invertebrates, including flies (Diptera), and some fruit, e.g. berries. Solitary or in pairs. Fairly shy and inconspicuous,... read more


    Season Mar–Aug. Nest built by female, male assists in bringing material, a cup made mostly of moss, placed in hollow in streambank or... read more


    Resident and short-distance altitudinal migrant. Locally, makes post-breeding descent to lower... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common or common in Himalayas, and fairly common in China. Uncommon in NW Thailand; uncommon or fairly common in N & E Myanmar, N & C... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2020). Small Niltava (Niltava macgrigoriae). 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 25 February 2020).