Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui 褐胸鶲

Category I. Locally uncommon but increasing summer visitor, scarce to rare passage migrant and very rare winter visitor to closed-canopy forest.


Alt Text

Apr. 2009, Michelle and Peter Wong.

13-14 cm. Similar in general appearance to Asian Brown Flycatcher but differs in having paler bill with less marked dark tip to underside of lower mandible (sometimes absent), relatively distinct buff wing bar on greater coverts, duller and greyer upperparts with a more contrasting warm brown tone to uppertail coverts and tail, less blackish centres to flight feathers, shorter primary projection, usually a dark orbital ring and pale pink legs. First-years have more distinct and brighter tips to greater coverts.



Generally silent in the non-breeding season. However, may give a short series of notes similar to Asian Brown Flycatcher, though slower, modulated and more metallic. The song is a high-pitched, slightly downslurred whistle that lasts short of one second.


Most records are from closed-canopy forest on the Tai Mo Shan massif, mainly Tai Po Kau where it is often near streams or rivers. However, it appears to be spreading, with records in recent years from the northeast New Territories, Ma On Shan and Tai Lam Country Parks (CP). Presumed migrants have occurred at sites such as HK Wetland Park, Ho Man Tin, King’s Park and on Po Toi and Tung Ping Chau.


Prior to 2012 there were five records: singles at Tai Po Kau from 28 November 2001 to 21 January 2002 (Tai and Wong 2007), Wun Yiu on 3 February 2003, Tai Po Kau on 13 April 2009, Fung Yuen on 13 September 2010 and near Tai Po Kau on 2 September 2011. In 2012 Brown-breasted Flycatcher began to occur with regularity at Tai Po Kau (and may have bred there) and it is now a scarce summer visitor to closed-canopy woodland in the central and east New Territories.

Birds arrive at the breeding site in early April and may remain until late July or August. The distribution of records indicates migrants or dispersed breeding birds occur in September until the end of the month. There are no records in October or the first half of November, and it appears wintering birds are present from mid-November to early February. A bird at King’s Park on 14 March and 2 April 2020 may thus be a migrant.


Although suspected previously, the first confirmed breeding occurred in 2014 at Tai Po Kau where one pair was present from 10 April to at least 1 July. Three nesting attempts were made; the first two failed due to predation, in the first instance by macaques, in the second by an unknown predator. Four young fledged from the third nest on 1st July.

In 2015 chicks hatched by 9 May, but the nest was found abandoned a week later. A second nesting attempt was then made but the outcome is unknown. In May 2018 two birds and a nest were found, but the latter had been destroyed by 3 June. However, the second attempt was successful, and two juveniles were seen on 12 July. In 2020 nest-building was noted at Mau Ping (Ma On Shan CP) and Yuen Tun Ha on the north side of Tai Po Kau, an adult and two recently fledged juveniles were seen on 20 July at Lau Shui Heung and a juvenile was at Shing Mun on 28 August 2020.


Insectivorous, hawking from open perches below the canopy. Appears to favour streams.


Monotypic. Breeds northeast India, north Myanmar east to southwest and south China as far east as Guangdong; winters in southwest India and Sri Lanka (Clement 2020, Liu and Chen 2020).


IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend decreasing.


Clement, P. (2020). Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Liu, Y. and Y. H. Chen (eds) (2020). The CNG Field Guide to the Birds of China (in Chinese). Hunan Science and Technology Publication House, Changsha.

Tai, S. L. and C. O. Wong (2007). Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui at Tai Po Kau. The first Hong Kong record. Hong Kong Bird Report 2001-02: 197-199.

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