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Black-naped monarch

Black-naped monarch
Photo Information
Copyright: Nagesh Vannur (nagesh) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 69] (362)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2015-03-27
Categories: Birds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2015-03-28 22:53
Viewed: 1344
Points: 14
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Black-naped monarch

The black-naped monarch or black-naped blue flycatcher (Hypothymis azurea) is a slim and agile passerine bird belonging to the family of monarch flycatchers. They are sexually dimorphic with males having a distinctive black patch on the back of the head and a narrow black half collar ("necklace") while the female is duller and lacks the black markings. They have a call that is similar to that of the Asian paradise flycatcher and in tropical forest habitats pairs may join mixed-species foraging flocks. Populations differ slightly in plumage colour and sizes.


The adult male black-naped monarch is about 16 cm long, and is mainly pale azure blue apart from a whitish lower belly. It has a black nape and a narrow black gorget. The female is duller and lacks the black markings. Her wings and back are grey-brown. There are however several geographically separated breeding populations that differ in the extent and shade of markings. The Indian peninsula (includes sykesi of Stuart Baker) has subspecies styani which has the black markings very distinct. Males of the Sri Lankan race H. a. ceylonensis lack the black nape and gorget and the shade is more purplish. The subspecies of the Andaman Islands, tytleri, has the underparts blue grey. The form on Car Nicobar Island idiochroa has a greyish white belly while nicobarica from the southern Nicobars has a smaller and finer bill. The colour of the gape is yellowish to green.

The nominate form is described from the Philippines. A number of other subspecies have been described from Southeast Asia. These include:

oberholseri Stresemann, 1913 from Taiwan.
montana Riley, 1929 & galerita (Deignan, 1956) from Thailand
forrestia Oberholser, 1911 from the Mergui Archipelago
prophata Oberholser, 1911 from Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.
consobrina Richmond, 1902 from Simeulue Island
abbotti Richmond, 1902 from Reusam and Babi islands
leucophila Oberholser, 1911 from Siberut Island
richmondi Oberholser, 1911 from Enggano Island
opisthocyanea Oberholser, 1911 from Anamba Island
gigantoptera Oberholser, 1911 from Bunguran
karimatensis Chasen & Kloss, 1932 from Karimata Island
javana Chasen & Kloss, 1929 from Java and Bali.
penidae Meise, 1941 from Penida Island
symmixta Stresemann, 1913 from the Lesser Sundas.
aeria Bangs & J. L. Peters, 1927 from Maratua Island
Some subspecies from the island chains of Southeast Asia, blasii (Banggai Island), catarmanensis (off Mindanao) and puella (Sulawesi), are sometimes treated as the pale-blue monarch, Hypothymis puella.

Distribution and habitat

The black-naped monarch breeds across tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia and the Philippines. This species is usually found in thick forests and other well-wooded habitats.

The calls are a sharp and abrupt skrip. The main breeding season in India is in summer from May to July. Two to three eggs are laid in a cup nest placed in the fork of a tree. The nest is decorated with spider egg-cases.

Behaviour and ecology

The black-naped monarch has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It is insectivorous, often hunting by flycatching. When alarmed or alert, the nape feathers are raised into a pointed crest. They will join mixed-species foraging flocks and are active in the understory of the canopy.

Although they are largely residents, local seasonal movements are known. The breeding season in India is March to August and the nest is neat cup placed in a fork. The nest is built by the female while the male guards. The typical clutch is of three eggs with both parents incubate and feed the young which hatch after about 12 days.

The webs of large spiders such as Nephila maculata have been know to trap the bird.


BirdLife International (2012). "Hypothymis azurea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
Baker, EC Stuart (1923). A hand-list of Genera and Species of Birds of the Indian Empire. Bombay Natural History Society.
Rasmussen, PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 333.
Oates, EW (1890). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 2. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 49–50.
Ripley, S. D. (1944). "The Bird Fauna of the West Sumatra Islands". Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 94 (8): 307–430.
Oberholser, Harry C (1911). "A monograph of the Flycatcher genera Hypothymis and Cyanonympha No. 1803". Proc. U. S Nat. Mus. 39: 585–615. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.1803.585.
Rand, AL (1970). "Species formation in the blue monarch flycatchers genus Hypothymis". Nat. Hist. Bull. Siam Soc. 23: 353–365.
Oberholser, Harry C. (1911). "A monograph of the flycatcher genera Hypothymis and Cyanonympha". Proceedings of the United States National Museum 39 (1803): 585–615. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.1803.585. hdl:10088/14242.
Oberholser, HC (1932). "The Birds of the Natuna Islands". U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 159: 1–137.
Hume, AO (1900). The nests and eggs of Indian birds. Volume 2. R H Porter, London. pp. 27–30.
Ali, S & S D Ripley (1996). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 7 (2 ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 223–227.
Kotagama, SW & Goodale, E (2004). "The composition and spatial organisation of mixedspecies flocks in a Sri Lankan rainforest". Forktail 20: 63–70.
Whistler, Hugh (1949). Popular handbook of Indian Birds. 4th edition. Gurney and Jackson. pp. 133–134.
Andheria,Anish P (1999). "Blacknaped Blue Flycatcher Hypothymis azurea trapped in the web of the Giant Wood Spider Nephila maculata". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 96 (1): 145–146.
All Information Wikipedia - Sources
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Exchangeable image file format (Exif)
Nikon D3X
840.0 mm
Flash (off, did not fire)
Location: The Western Ghats are a mountain range that runs almost parallel to the western coast of Indian peninsula. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity in the world. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, along the Arabian Sea. A total of thirty nine properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests were designated as world heritage sites - twenty in Kerala, ten in Karnataka, five in Tamil Nadu and four in Maharashtra.

The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. These hills cover 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi) and form the catchment area for complex riverine drainage systems that drain almost 40% of India. The Western Ghats block southwest monsoon winds from reaching the Deccan Plateau. The average elevation is around 1,200 m (3,900 ft).

The area is one of the world's ten "Hottest biodiversity hotspots" and has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species and 288 freshwater fish species; it is likely that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
Photo Taken By. 2015 -- Photo Taken Time:
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This is yet another exotic species of birds you have captured well, Nagesh.
The subtle colours on the bird look beautiful.

Hi Nagesh,

A beautiful picture of the Black Naped Monarch captured by you. I saw this bird couple of years ago in Bandhavgarh forest but due to the limited reach of my tamron I couldn't capture a shot. Nice natural color & details.

Warm Regards,

Excellent DOF.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2015-03-29 11:35]

Hello Nagesh,
A new bird for me and a real beauty at that. I love the rich blue coloring in it's plumage as well as it's tiny black neck band, mustache and cute little cap. The semi flared tail is a bit different, but quite attractive. Wonderful eye contact with nice catchlight. Super sharp focus displaying excellent detail. A pleasure to view!!

great camouflage, amazing bird, TFS Ori

Hello Nagesh
Beautiful species and lovely capture.Wonderful colors and excellent sharpness.TFS.
Best wishes

Bonjour Nagesh,
Une intéressante prise de vue en contre-plongée valorisant bien le sujet dans une belle attitude et dans son environnement.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

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