email a friend
printable version
Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Viking Optical
BirdLife Species Guardian Nature Seychelles
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species qualifies as Critically Endangered since it has an extremely small range and probably only one viable population persisting on an island where there has been a continuing decline in the extent of habitat. However, the situation may be improving as this population appears to have substantially increased in the last 20 years, at least partly owing to a variety of habitat management measures. The species may be more adaptable than its present range suggests as a number of territories are now in open woodland with housing encroachment, and an increasing number of tree species are used for nesting. Following the successful reintroduction of birds to Denis Island, this species will warrant downlisting after five years if both populations are still self-sustaining, as the species occurs at multiple locations; but in the meantime it retains this classification as a precautionary measure.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

20 cm (plus 16 cm central tail feathers in male). Long-tailed, all-black flycatcher. Male has blue bill and facial skin, long central tail feathers and all-black plumage which, at close range, shows deep blue sheen. Female and juvenile lack long tail feathers and have black head, creamy-white underparts and chestnut upperparts and tail. Voice Harsh szzweet alarm and whistled song.

Distribution and population
Terpsiphone corvina was thought to remain only on western La Digue, Seychelles. A few birds have been found on neighbouring Marianne (Ladoucer 1997, Neufeld 1998), although this, along with birds on Praslin (Rocamora 1997a), may represent a non-viable overspill (Parr 1998b) and birds seem unable to establish populations on these neighbouring islands (R. Bristol in litt. 2007, 2008). Sightings on Félicité have also been reported (S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999). Comprehensive surveys on La Digue show that the population is increasing: 69-83 pairs (c.150-200 birds) in 1995-1996 (Rocamora 1997a), 104-139 pairs in 2000 (Currie et al. 2002). The translocation of 23 adult birds to Denis Island was conducted in November 2008, with the hope of eventually establishing a population of 40-50 birds on the island (N. J. Shah in litt. 2000, 2008). The first chick successfully fledged on Denis Island in 2009 (BirdLife International 2009). Surveys conducted on Denis in December 2011 estimated the population size to be 30-33 individuals (Henriette and Laboudallon 2011).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 210-278 individuals, roughly equating to 140-190 mature individuals.

Trend justification
From 50-60 individuals on La Digue in 1978-1988 (Watson 1981, 1991) the species's population size doubled by 1997 (Rocamora 1997, Currie 2002, 2003). More recently it appears to have stabilised at 150-200 individuals. However, should the newly-established population on Denis Island prove viable, the total population will continue to increase.

It requires mature stands of indigenous badamier Terminalia catappa and takamaka Calophyllum innophylum trees (Watson 1981, 1991, Currie et al. 2003). It appears to be strictly insectivorous, and birds can breed at one year of age (Currie et al. 2002). Nesting was generally believed to be dependent on a proximity to wetland areas (Rocamora 1997a). However there is a non-random association between surviving native plateau forest and wetland areas (Currie et al. 2002). Native high canopy plateau forest is important for both nesting and foraging: territories are generally smaller where native tree density is high (Currie et al. 2002). The species occurs densely (60% of all territories) on the forested (typically high canopy) plateau areas of La Digue. It is not observed in areas of native (low canopy) dry forest (Currie et al. 2003).

Alarming rates of habitat loss and fragmentation, due to tourism and private housing developments, may be the greatest threats on La Digue (Gerlach 1996, S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999). Habitat loss continues with the illegal felling of trees for development still a problem in 2012 (Anon. 2012). A wilt disease affecting C. innophylum has lead to increased woodland clearance on the La Digue plateau (Currie et al. 2003). Plants such as water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), introduced to La Digue's marshes, may possibly have reduced favoured invertebrate prey (Gerlach 1996), although this is unproven. Alien mammals and also some endemic bird species have recently been shown to be nest predators, although T. corvina can resist their impacts more effectively than other endemic birds in the Seychelles (Currie et al. 2002, Currie et al. 2003, Currie et al. 2005). The level of nest predation is highest at the forest edge (Currie et al. 2005), compounding the already negative impact of habitat fragmentation.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
A 0.1 km2 area of mature woodland was established as a nature reserve on La Digue in 1991 (Shah 1995). Wardening staff have been recruited, a few pools established to increase standing water, an education centre constructed, and public awareness programmes initiated (Shah 1995, Rocamora 1997a). This population was surveyed in 2007 and productivity is routinely monitored. A further 13 ha of marshland was purchased in 2002 increasing the reserve to 21 ha. Pollution monitoring has been ongoing for some time (S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999) - a sluice gate was built to protect water quality in the wetland (Shah 1995) and the groundwater supply was protected when a new landfill site was established (Shah 1996). The introduced P. stratiotes is routinely removed from marshland (S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999). A programme was completed to assess the best islands to which future translocations could be considered (Currie et al. 2003, N. J. Shah in litt. 2000, 2008). Habitat restoration is ongoing on the now predator-free Denis Island (R. Bristol in litt. 2007, 2008), and this has been accompanied by a 'social marketing' campaign to raise awareness on La Digue (Anon 2007, R. Bristol in litt. 2007, 2008). 23 individuals were translocated to Denis Island from La Digue in November 2008, and the first chick successfully fledged in 2009 (BirdLife International 2009). These efforts were carried out during a three-year project funded by the Darwin Initiative and implemented by a partnership of NGOs and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources titled Investing in island biodiversity: restoring the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. A follow up social marketing project began in 2011 funding through Birdlife Preventing Extinctions Programme. An education and advocacy campaign has also been carried out (Anon. 2012).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Conserve woodland habitat on La Digue, and consider replanting native forest (Currie et al. 2003). Reforestation should focus on large patches to minimise the level of predation (Currie et al. 2005). Continue population and nest monitoring and research into territory quality and food requirements (Shah 1996, S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999, Henriette and Laboudallon 2011). Assess the impact of habitat loss, predation and historical changes in land-use (Shah 1996). Encourage placement of new development away from the western plateau or in areas with no existing woodland (Rocamora 1997, Neufeld 1998). Continue removal of invasive water plants on La Digue (Gerlach 1996, S. Parr and N. J. Shah in litt. 1999). Restore more areas of forest on Denis to prevent habitat availability becoming a limiting factor of the population there. Continue control and eliminate myna birds from Denis (Henriette and Laboudallon 2011). Consider future translocation to a suitable large island with a large area of suitable high canopy (damp) plateau forest eg Praslin or Silhouette (despite the presence of alien and native adult and nest predators), following the successful translocation of flycatchers to Denis (Currie et al. 2003, D. Currie in litt. 2012).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Anon. 2007. Diguois receive social marketing at their fingertips. Zwazo: 12.

Anon. 2012. Mixed news from the Seychelles. World Birdwatch 24: 8.

BirdLife International. 2009. Species Guardian Action Update: February 2009 Long-billed Tailorbird Artisornis moreaui. Available at: #

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Currie, D. Undated. Ecological requirements of the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher: consequences for conservation and management. Nature Seychelles, Mahé.

Currie, D.; Bristol, R.; Millett, J.; Hill, M.; Bristol, U.; Parr, S. J.; Shah, N. J. 2003. Habitat requirements of the Seychelles black paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina: a re-evaluation of translocation priorities. Ibis 145: 624-636.

Currie, D.; Bristol, R.; Millett, J.; Shah, N. J. 2003. The distribution and population of the Seychelles black paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina: implications for conservation and translocation. Bird Conservation International 13: 307-318.

Currie, D.; Bristol, R.; Millett, J.; Shah, N.J. 2005. Demography of the Seychelles Black Paradise-flycatcher: considerations for conservation and reintroduction. Ostrich 76(3&4): 104-110.

Currie, D.; Hill, M.; Millett, J.; Bristol, R.; Nevill, J.; Shah, N. J. 2003. Conservation options for the critically endangered Seychelles Black Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina. Bird Conservation International 13: 97-114.

Gerlach, J. 1996. New threats to Seychelles birds. Birdwatch 20: 18-24.

Henriette, E. and Laboudallon, V. 2011. Seychelles paradise flycatcher conservation introduction: Population assessment on Denis Island, Seychelles, 12-17 December 2011.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Ladoucer. 1997. Sighting of Paradise Flycatcher (La Vev) on Marianne Island. Ministry of Environment, Internal report, Jan 1997.

Neufeld, D. 1998. Nest site use and changes in habitat of the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher. Biological Conservation 84: 103-105.

Parr, S. 1998. Recolonisation of Marianne Island by Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher after 60 years. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 5(2): 90-91.

Rocamora, G. 1997. Rare and threatened species, sites and habitats monitoring programme in Seychelles: monitoring methodologies and recommended priority actions.

Shah, N. J. 1995. La Veuve Special Reserve Management Plan.

Shah, N. J. 1996. Environmental Impact Asssessment of the La Digue solid waste landfill site.

Shah, N. J.; Parr, S. 1998. Avian Ecosystems Management Project. Project Document.

Watson, J. 1981. The Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher Tersiphone corvina on La Digue.

Watson, J. 1991. The Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina on La Digue: population size, habitat requirements and management options. Bird Conservation International 1: 107-122.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Warren, B. & Wright, L

Bristol, R., Groombridge, J., Parr, M., Shah, N. & Currie, D.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Terpsiphone corvina. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Seychelles paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Monarchidae (Monarchs)
Species name author (Newton, 1867)
Population size 140-190 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species