Wild Birds

Narcissus Flycatchers

The Narcissus Flycatchers (Ficedula narcissina) is a passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. The name of the bird is a reference to the yellow color of many varieties of the narcissus flower.

Distribution / Range

It is native to east Asia, from Sakhalin to the north, through Japan across Korea, mainland China, and Taiwan, and wintering in southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Borneo. It is highly migratory and has been found as a vagrant from Australia in the south to Alaska in the north.


Narcissus Flycatcher males are very distinctive in full breeding plumage, having a black crown and mantle, a bright orange throat with paler chest and underparts, an orange-yellow eyebrow, black wings with a white wing patch, an orange-yellow rump, and a black tail. Non-breeding males have varying levels of yellow.

Females are completely dissimilar, with generally buff-brown coloration, rusty-colored wings, and a two-toned eyering.

Diet / Feeding

This species primarily feeds on insects and lives in deciduous woodlands.

Songs / Vocalizations

Breeding males sing in repeated melodious whistles.


There are several subspecies, largely determined by plumage and range variations, at least of which has been split off as separate species.

    • F. n. narcissina, the nominate race, found from Sakhalin south to the Philippines
    • F. n. owstoni, a short-range migrant based in the Ry? ky? Islands, breeding males have an olive-green crown and mantle instead of black
    • F. (n.) elisae, increasingly separated as Chinese Flycatcher or Green-backed Flycatcher (Ficedula elisae, Weigold, 1922), breeding endemic to northeast China, wintering south to Vietnam and Malaysia, breeding males have an olive-green crown and mantle instead of black, and lemon-yellow underparts

F. (n.) beijingnica, proposed as a separate species called Beijing Flycatcher or Peking Flycatcher, is now considered by experts to be the first-summer male of F. (n.) elisae and no longer a valid taxon.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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