Jacky winter

Microeca fascinans

SUBFAMILY

Petroicinae

TAXONOMY

Sylvia leucophaea Latham, 1801, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Four subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Brown flycatcher; French: Miro enchanteur; German: Weisschwanzschnäpper; Spanish: Tordo Australiano de Cola Blanca.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5-5.5 in (12.5-14 cm); 0.5-0.65 oz (14-18 g). Sandy crown and back, white throat and belly, brownish gray and white wings and tail, white around eye and black stripe through eye.

DISTRIBUTION

Most of Australia, except for central and western deserts, and northern Cape York; absent from Tasmania and Kangaroo Island. Also around Port Moresby, New Guinea.

HABITAT

Wide variety of woodlands and open scrub, lightly timbered farmland and occasionally in gardens.

BEHAVIOR

Generally quiet but active and tame. Often wags tail side to side or spreads feathers. Sedentary or showing local movements. Song is a loud, repeated "peter-peter"; also makes whistling calls.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mostly sallies for flying insects from a perch on a branch, fence post, or overhead wires but also pounces onto ground af ter larvae, beetles, and worms, occasionally hovering just above the ground.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeds from July to December and occasionally at other times. Nest is made of grass and roots and placed in a horizontal fork on a living or dead tree branch. Clutch of two to three pale blue eggs, blotched with brown and lavender. Eggs are incubated for 16-17 days. Young are fed by both parents and fledge at 14-17 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Common in many parts of range but has declined in agricultural regions where most of the native vegetation has been lost or degraded.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Despite dull colors, the jacky winter's trusting and lively habits and distinctive song make it a popular bird. ♦

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