Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
The characteristic hovering action of a foraging Restless Flycatcher is quite distinctive. Its body is arched with its head and tail pointing downwards, with tail spread and wings quivering rapidly. In this manner, the bird plucks insects and other small invertebrates from the outer foliage of trees or shrubs while giving its distinctive churring ‘scissor-grinder’ call. When not hovering, the Restless Flycatcher perches on stumps and fence posts with its tail continually swept from side to side and its small crest erect.
The Restless Flycatcher has a glossy blue-black head, with a small crest, and is white below, from the chin to the undertail, with a blue-black bill surrounded by bristles. The back wings and tail are darker grey and there may be a slight orange-brown tint on the breast. Young birds are duller grey-black above, with the throat and breast washed orange-brown. The smaller northern Australian former subspecies, nana, now considered a full species, known as the Paperbark Flycatcher, has a smaller bill and has glossy blue-black colouring extending further down the back.
Continuous whirring or rasping hisses when hovering. Bird call recorded by: Fred Van Gessel
The Restless Flycatcher is found throughout eastern mainland Australia as well as in southwestern Australia.
The Restless Flycatcher is found in open forests and woodlands and is frequently seen in farmland.
The Restless Flycatcher is able to hover, hanging almost vertically in the air with its head and spread tail pointing downwards as it picks insects off the leaves. It rarely comes to the ground, preferring to ‘hawk’ for insects from perches in the mid-level of the canopy.
The Restless Flycatcher feeds on insects, as well as other invertebrates such as spiders and centipedes, and usually feeds alone or in pairs.
The Restless Flycatcher builds a small cup-shaped nest of bark and grass bound with a spider web, camouflaged with pieces of lichen and bark, and placed in an exposed position on a tree branch, often near or over water. Males and females both help to build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. Up to three broods may be raised in one season and the young disperse quickly after fledging.