Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Swamp Flycatcher (Muscicapa aquatica)


French: Gobemouche des marais German: Sumpfschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas palustre

Muscicapa aquatica


, 1864,

Wau, Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan


Putative race ruandae (described from Uganda) is slightly longer-winged than infulata but otherwise inseparable; more appropriately synonymized with infulata. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. aquatica Heuglin, 1864 – extreme S Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, S & E Mali, C & SE Burkina Faso, NE Ivory Coast and N Ghana E to Nigeria (except S and extreme N), N Cameroon, S Chad, N Central African Republic, W South Sudan and N DRCongo (R Ubangui).
  • M. a. infulata Hartlaub, 1881 – South Sudan (except W), NE DRCongo (including R Lualaba from Kasongo to Mwanza), Uganda (except Karamoja), Rwanda, W Burundi, W Kenya, NW Tanzania and NE Zambia.
  • M. a. lualabae (Chapin, 1932) – SE DRCongo (upper Lualaba lakes, in Katanga).
  • M. a. grimwoodi Chapin, 1952 – S Zambia (L Suye, Lukanga Swamp).
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 10–12·5 g. Nominate race has crown, head side and upperparts uniform greyish-brown or slightly olivaceous-tinged; lores dark, small buffy spot above gape... read more


    Song two high-pitched, thin, sweet notes followed by a trill, “tseuw-tsweee-titititi”;... read more


    Vegetation on borders of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamps, pools, lakes, rivers and large... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including flies (Diptera), and grasshopper nymphs (Orthoptera). Occurs singly or in pairs. Forages by making short sallies from a... read more


    Laying in Mar in Senegal, adults feeding fledglings in Jun in Mali, and laying Mar–Jun and Aug–Oct in E Africa and Oct in... read more


    Normally considered resident, but in Niger recorded only in Jan–Oct; may be forced to leave... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Sparse to common and widespread in the savanna and woodland belt. Most numerous at Arli National Park, in SE Ivory Coast, at Pendjari National Park,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Swamp Flycatcher (Muscicapa aquatica). 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).