Introduction To The Black-Naped Monarch
The black-naped monarch or black-naped blue flycatcher (Hypothymis azurea) is a small & agile passerine bird in the family of monarch flycatchers located in southern & southeastern Asia. Colors and other features sexually distinguish them.
This allows bird watchers & bird lovers to easily distinguish them from male or female, with the male possessing a distinctive black spot on the back of the head & a fine black half collar (“necklace”).
In contrast, the female is duller with olive-brown wings & does not have the black markings on the head.
- Scientific species name: Hypothymis azurea
- Genus: Hypothymis
- Class: Aves
- Family: Monarchidae
- Order: Passeriformes
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Phylum: Chordata
- Kingdom: Animalia
The black-naped monarch (Hypothymis azurea) is a small bird belonging to the family Monarchidae, a group of passerine birds found in the Old World. This species is classified in the genus Hypothymis and is a member of the class Aves, which includes all birds.
The class Aves is part of the subphylum Vertebrata, which includes animals with backbones, and the phylum Chordata, which includes all animals with a spinal cord. The black-naped monarch is classified in the kingdom Animalia, which includes all animals.
10 Black-naped Monarch Bird Facts
- The black-naped monarch (Hypothymis azurea) is a small bird native to Southeast Asia.
- It is known for its distinctive black nape and bright blue head, wings, and tail.
- These birds are found in various habitats, including forests, gardens, and urban areas.
- They are typically found in small groups and are known for their vocalizations, which include a variety of chirping and whistling sounds.
- Black-naped monarchs are insectivorous and feed on various insects, including flies, beetles, and grasshoppers.
- They are known for their agile flight and can catch insects in mid-air.
- These birds are highly territorial and defend their territory from intruders with aggressive displays and vocalizations.
- Black-naped monarchs are monogamous and typically form long-term pair bonds.
- They build small, cup-shaped nests out of grass and other plant material, usually located in trees or bushes.
- Black-naped monarchs are not considered endangered but may be threatened by habitat loss and other human activities.
Black Naped Monarch Call & Birdsong
They have a call or bird song similar to the Asian paradise flycatcher.
In tropical rainforest habitats, partners may join in mixed-species foraging flocks. Populations differ somewhat in plumage color & size.
Black Naped Monarch Classification
The black-naped monarch was recorded by the French polymath Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, in the year 1779 in his Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux.
The bird was also illustrated in a hand-colored silverware engraved by François-Nicolas Martinet in the Planches Enluminées D’Histoire Naturelle that was created under the supervision of Edme-Louis Daubenton to go with Buffon’s text.
Neither the plate caption nor Buffon’s account included a scientific name. In 1783 the Dutch naturalist Pieter Boddaert coined the binomial term Muscicapa azurea in his catalog of the Planches Enluminées.
Buffon stipulated that his specimen had been obtained in the Philippines. Still, in 1939, the American ornithologist James L. Peters limited the type locality to Manila on the island of Luzon.
How Did the Black-Naped Monarch Get Its Name?
The beautiful bird got its name from the Ancient Greek hupothumis, the name of an unknown bird mentioned by the playwright Aristophanes.
The specific name azurea is from the Medieval Latin azureus indicating “azure-colored” or “azure-blue.”
Alternate names for the black-naped monarch incorporate black-naped blue monarch & black-naped monarch flycatcher. Some biologists separate two former subspecies, H. a. blasii (Banggai Island) and H. a. puella (Sulawesi), & add them as subspecies of the pale-blue monarch (Hypothymis puella).
Black-naped Monarch Subspecies
There are several subspecies of the black-naped monarch (Hypothymis azurea), which are distinguished by subtle differences in size, coloration, and distribution. Some of the recognized subspecies include:
- Hypothymis azurea azurea: This is the nominate subspecies found in the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra and Java.
- Hypothymis azurea albiventris: This subspecies is found in the Philippines.
- Hypothymis azurea banggiensis: This subspecies is found on the island of Banggi in Malaysia.
- Hypothymis azurea mirabilis: This subspecies is found on the island of Borneo.
- Hypothymis azurea occidentalis: This subspecies is found on the islands of Palawan and Balabac in the Philippines.
These subspecies may have slight differences in the coloration of their head, breast, and wings, and they may also have slightly different ranges and habitat preferences.
Black Naped Monarch Description
The mature male black-naped monarch is approximately 16 cm long. It is mainly pale azure blue aside from a whitish lower belly. It has a black nape & a narrow black gorget. The female is duller & lacks the black markings.
Its wings & back are grey-brown. Nevertheless, several geographically isolated breeding populations vary in the extent & shade of markings.
The Indian peninsula has a subspecies, H. a. styani, in which males possess very distinct black markings & a whitish abdomen. Males of the Sri Lankan population, H. a. ceylonensis lack the black nape & gorget & the color is more purplish.
The subspecies of the Andaman Islands, H. a. tytleri, possesses the underparts blue grey. The species on Car Nicobar Island, H. a. idiochroa, has a greyish-white belly, while H. a. nicobarica of the southern Nicobars has a shorter & finer bill. The color of the gape is yellowish to green.
Black Naped Monarch Distribution and Habitat
The black-naped monarch reproduces across tropical southern Asia from India & Sri Lanka east to the Philippines & Indonesia. This variety is regularly found in thick forests & other well-wooded environments.
The calls are sharp & abrupt. The primary breeding season in India is in the summertime, from May to July. Two to three eggs are deposited in a cup nest located in the fork of a tree. The nest is adorned with spider-egg cases.
Black-naped Monarch Behaviour and Ecology
The beautiful bird has short legs & sits very upright whilst roosted prominently, like a shrike. It feeds on insects, worms, & other invertebrates, often hunting by flycatching. When frightened or alert, the nape feathers raise into a pointed crest.
They join mixed-species foraging flocks, being amongst the most significant members of such communities in the Western Ghats, & are active in the understory of forest canopies. A research study in Sri Lanka revealed that they are influenced by human disturbance, causing them to recede from disquieted edges by about 75 m.
Although they are mostly residents, local seasonal movements are acknowledged. The breeding period in India is March to August, and the nest is a neat cup set in a fork. The cup is lined with filaments of webbing & fungi, including those of the mushroom-forming fungi known to provide antibiotics & may benefit the birds by shielding their young birds from infection.
The nest is built by the female whilst the male guards. The average clutch is three eggs, which both parents incubate & both feed the offspring, which hatch after approximately 12 days.
The webs of large spiders such as Nephila maculata have been known to ensnare the bird. An astrovirus was identified in a black-naped monarch in Cambodia, a previously unknown virus by passerines.
The feather parasite Proterothrix hypothymis (Pterodectinae: Protophyllodidae) has been reported from black-naped monarchs in Vietnam.