Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine
Listed migratory - Bonn
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Myiagra cyanoleuca [612]
Family Dicruridae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Vieillot,1818)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

The Convention on Migratory Species (the Bonn Convention) uses Morony and colleagues (1975) treatment of bird species. As such, this species is Migratory under the family Muscicapidae (sensu lato) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Scientific name: Myiagra cyanoleuca

Common name: Satin Flycatcher

Other names: Shining Flycatcher, Satin Monarch, Satin or Shining Sparrow

There are no recognized subspecies of the Satin Flycatcher and no variation in plumage (Pizzey & Knight 1997).

The Satin Flycatcher is a member of the Dicruridae family. They have a length around 17.5 cm, a wingspan of 23 cm and a weight of 17 g. The species is characterised by an upright posture, short erectile crest, and a distinctive habit of quivering the tail when perched. Males are glossy blue-black above, with a blue-black chest and white below, while females are duskier blue-black above, with a orange-red chin, throat and breast, and white underparts and pale-edged wing and tail feathers. Young birds are dark brown-grey above, with pale streaks and buff edges to the wing feathers, and a mottled brown-orange throat and chest (Higgins et al. 2006).

The Satin Flycatcher is widespread in eastern Australia and vagrant to New Zealand (Blakers et al. 1984; Coates 1990a). In Queensland, it is widespread but scattered in the east, being recorded on passage on a few islands in the western Torres Strait. It is patchily recorded on Cape York Peninsula, from the Cape south to a line between Aurukun and Coen. The species is more widespread farther south, though still scattered, from Musgrave Station south to c. 24° S, mostly in coastal areas, but also on the Great Divide, and occasionally further west (Blakers et al. 1984). Satin Flycatchers are widespread in south-eastern Queensland, in the area from Fraser Island, west to Goombi and south to the NSW border (Blakers et al. 1984). In NSW, they are widespread on and east of the Great Divide and sparsely scattered on the western slopes, with very occasional records on the western plains (Blakers et al. 1984; Cooper & McAllan 1995; Morris et al. 1981). In Victoria, the species is widespread in the south and east, in the area south of a line joining Numurkah, Maldon, the northern Grampians, Balmoral and Nelson (Blakers et al. 1984; Emison et al. 1987). They are sparsely scattered on the western plains and very occasionally further north (e.g. a few scattered sites in the Little Desert) (Emison et al. 1987). In Tasmania, they are widespread in the east, mostly west to a line joining Ulverstone and South Cape, though they are recorded farther west along the northern coast and in the north-west, and are very occasionally recorded at scattered sites near the western coast (e.g. Temma, Strahan and Port Davey) (Blakers et al. 1984; Green & McGarvie 1971). They regularly occur on islands in the Bass Strait (e.g. Albatross Island, King Island and the Furneaux Group) (Blakers et al. 1984). In South Australia, they are occasionally recorded, mostly in the lower south-east, occasionally as far north as Naracoorte (Blakers et al. 1984). There have been six records at scattered sites in the area from Langhorne Creek, west to eastern Kangaroo Island and north to Sandy Creek (Blakers et al. 1984). There are records from farther west (e.g. 13 km east of Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula, and at Marree and Billa Kalina Bore) (Carpenter 1985; Eckert 1987). In Western Australia, there is a single vagrant record from Twilight Cove and in the Northern Territory (Brooker 1974a), there is an unconfirmed report from Bang Bang Billabong in Kakadu National Park (Andrew & Eades 1991).The Satin Flycatcher occurs at many scattered sites in New Guinea and offshore islands, including Bismarck, D'Entrecasteaux and Louisiade Archipelagos.

Satin Flycatchers have been recorded at densities of 0.08 birds/hectare (ha) near Armidale, NSW, 1.25 birds/ha near Bathurst, NSW, 0.43–0.66 birds/ha in the Bondi area near Bombala, NSW, 0.2–0.5 birds/ha at Bombala, NSW, and at a maximum density of 0.23 birds/ha in the Olinda State Forest, Victoria (Blakers et al. 1984; Ford & Bell 1981; Mac Nally 1997; Taylor et al. 1997b). The species is said to have become increasingly common in Tasmania in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with records in areas where they have not previously been recorded (Sharland 1952). Over the period of the two Australian Bird Atlases, the Satin Flycatcher showed no significant regional variation between Atlas 1 and Atlas 2, and no significant difference in reporting rate between the two Atlases, indicating no significant change in abundance (Barrett et al. 2002).

General habitat overview
Satin Flycatchers inhabit heavily vegetated gullies in eucalypt-dominated forests and taller woodlands, and on migration, occur in coastal forests, woodlands, mangroves and drier woodlands and open forests (Blakers et al. 1984; Emison et al. 1987; Officer 1969).

Specific habitat details
Satin Flycatchers mainly inhabit eucalypt forests, often near wetlands or watercourses. They generally occur in moister, taller forests than the Leaden Flycatcher, Myiagra rebecula, often occurring in gullies (Blakers et al. 1984; Emison et al. 1987; Officer 1969). They also occur in eucalypt woodlands with open understorey and grass ground cover, and are generally absent from rainforest (Emison et al. 1987; Officer 1969). In south-eastern Australia, they occur at elevations of up to 1400 m above sea level, and in the ACT, they occur mainly between 800 m above sea level and the treeline (Emison et al. 1987; Taylor & COG 1992).

Satin Flycatchers are mainly recorded in eucalypt forests, especially wet sclerophyll forest, often dominated by eucalypts such as Brown Barrel, Eucalypt fastigata, Mountain Gum, E. dalrympleana, Mountain Grey Gum, Narrow-leaved Peppermint, Messmate or Manna Gum, or occasionally Mountain Ash, E. regnans. Such forests usually have a tall shrubby understorey of tall acacias, for example Blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon. In higher altitude Black Sallee, E. stellulata, woodlands, they are often associated with tea-trees and tree-ferns (Emison et al. 1987; Loyn 1985a; Mac Nally 1997). They sometimes also occur in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, usually dominated by eucalypts such as Blakely's Red Gum, E. blakelyi, Mugga Ironbark, E. sideroxylon, Yellow Box, White Box, E. albens, Manna Gum or stringybarks, including Red Stringybark, E. macrorhyncha and Broad-leaved Stringybark, usually with open understorey (Ford & Bell 1981; Traill et al. 1996). In the uplands of East Gippsland, they occur in pasture with scattered eucalypts (Emison & Porter 1978). On passage, they sometimes occur in riparian River Red Gums, E. camaldulensis (Emison et al. 1987). The few records in South Australia have mostly been from eucalypt mallee woodland or mixed eucalypt-Moonah, Melaleuca lanceolata, mallee shrubland with an understorey of heathy shrubs. They have also been seen in tall, open stringybark forest with scattered pine saplings, Pinus radiata, a lower tree stratum of Blackwood and ground cover of dense bracken and some flowering tea-trees up to 1.5 m tall (Carpenter 1985). In far south-eastern South Australia, Satin Flycatchers breed in open forest of Manna Gum and Brown Stringybark, Eucalyptus baxteri, with understorey of Blackwood and Austral Bracken, Pteridium esculentum. They have only been recorded in other habitats as a non-breeding visitor (Carpenter 1985). They are occasionally recorded in thickets of paperbarks, Brigalow shrubland, coastal thickets, heathland and mangroves (Storr 1984c).

Social organization
Satin Flycatchers occur singly or in pairs, and sometimes in groups of three or four (Green & McGarvie 1971; Longmore 1978; McGarvie & Templeton 1974; Morris 1975; Smith & Chafer 1987). They nest as simple pairs and both sexes brood and feed nestlings and fledgelings (BA NRS 2002). Males feed females on the nest ( BA NRS 2002). Females have been observed removing faecal sacs of young from nests (BA NRS 2002). Each pair occupies a discrete territory but occasionally trespass onto neighbouring territory (BA NRS 2002). They nest in loose colonies, or nests are at least clustered (BA NRS 2002). There is no information about roosting behaviour of the Satin Flycatcher. When breeding, they can be aggressive towards other birds with records of both sexes mobbing or attacking other birds that venture near their nest, including potential predators such as Brown Goshawk, Accipiter fasciatus, kingfishers, Todiramphus spp. and Dacelo spp., Currawongs, Strepera spp, and Grey Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla harmonica. They are sometimes aggressive towards the Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Lichenostomus flavicollis, Flame Robin, Petroica phoenicea, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina novaehollandiae, and the Satin Bowerbird, Ptilonorhynchus violaceus (BA NRS 2002).

Breeding micro-habitat
Satin Flycatchers prefer to nest in a fork of outer branches of trees, such as paperbarks, eucalypts, and banksias (Gilbert 1935; BA NRS 2002). From 83 records in the Birds Australia Nest Record Scheme 2002, 78 (94%) were in eucalypts, including Tasmanian Blue Gum, Manna Gum, Broad-leaved Peppermint, Mountain Grey Gum, Narrow-leaved Peppermint, Messmate, Mountain Gum, Snow Gum, Broad-leaved Stringybark, Sydney Peppermint and Yellow Box. Two (2.4%) nests were in Blackwood, two (2.4%) in Broad-leafed Paperbark, and one (1.2%) in an unidentified tree (BA NRS 2002). Satin Flycatchers usually nest in a high, exposed position in a slender fork on an outer branch, also on dead horizontal branches and once on a branch which curved upwards in a shallow bow, with the nest at the highest part of the curve (BA NRS 2002). They nest in the same locality each year, and sometimes in the same tree (BA NRS 2002; Howe 1928; Napier 1969). The average height of the nest is 12.3 m (BA NRS 2002; Gilbert 1935; Howe 1928).

Fecundity, lifespan, generation interval
The clutch size of the Satin Flycatcher is usually three, occasionally four (BA NRS 2002; Gilbert 1935). Incubation is by both sexes with stints often of a short duration with frequent change overs (BA NRS 2002). Males have been recorded feeding the female on the nest (BA NRS 2002). The incubation period is reportedly c. 17 days (BA NRS 2002). Causes of nest failure include the loss of eggs following heavy rain, nests blown from trees and nest abandonment (Brooker & Brooker 1989a). Nests have been parasitised usually by the Pallid Cuckoo, Cuculus pallidus, and Brush Cuckoo, Cacomantis variolosus, and occasionally by Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basalis, and the Shining Bronze-cuckoo, C. lucidus (Brooker & Brooker 1989a).

Breeding season
Where Satin Flycatchers breed at elevations of more than 600 m above sea level in south-eastern Australia, they breed from November to early January (Frith 1969). In Queensland, eggs have been recorded in December (BA NRS 2002). In NSW, eggs have been recorded between November and January (BA NRS 2002; Gilbert 1935; Morris et al. 1981). In Victoria, Satin Flycatchers breed between November and March, with 84% of records (49 breeding records) from between November and January (BA NRS 2002; Emison et al. 1987).

Satin Flycatchers are mainly insectivorous, preying on arthropods, mostly insects, although very occasionally they will also eat seeds. They are arboreal foragers, feeding high in the canopy and subcanopy of trees, usually sallying for prey in the air or picking prey from foliage and branches of trees, flitting from one perch to another, constantly wagging their tail (Frith 1969; Green 1995; Loyn 1980, 1985a; Officer 1969; Taylor et al. 1997b). On Kangaroo Island, South Australia, they have been recorded sallying for flying insects in the middle and upper layers of 5 m tall eucalypt mallee.

Satin Flycatchers are migratory, moving north in autumn to spend winter in northern Australia and New Guinea. They return south in spring to spend summer in south-eastern Australia (Blakers et al. 1984). On the south-eastern mainland of Australia and Tasmania, they appear to be almost entirely deserted in winter, with reporting rates of 7.8% and 13.6%, respectively, in summer, and 0.3% in both in winter (Blakers et al. 1984; Emison et al. 1987; Frith 1969). They are inconspicuous when on passage, possibly because movements are made singly or in pairs or small loose groups through the tree-tops and possibly at night (Blakers et al. 1984). Their migration route appears to follow the Great Divide with some following the coast in NSW (Blakers et al. 1984). Departure times vary between regions. Their departure from south-eastern Queensland occurs in April and they have been recorded on their northern passage from February to early May, including Magnetic Island in May and Lamington National Park in March and April (Longmore 1978; Roberts 1979; Templeton 1992). In NSW, they depart in February and March, and around Sydney, they are mainly recorded on passage moving north between February and April, with the earliest record on 2 February (Egan et al. 1997; Ford et al. 1986; Frith 1969; Gibson 1977; Gilbert 1935; Leishman 1994; Longmore 1978; Morris 1975; Morris et al. 1981; Morris 2001; Smith 1984). After breeding, some birds move towards the coast on their northern migration between February and April (Hoskin 1991). In the ACT, they depart in autumn, mainly in March, with a few in April and May (Taylor & COG 1992). In Victoria, they depart mainly during February and March, mainly through eastern Victoria (Emison et al. 1987). At Wilsons Promontory, they have been recorded on their northern passage, presumably from Tasmania (Emison et al. 1987). Satin Flycatchers depart Tasmania between February and March to winter on the mainland (Green & Mollison 1961). During the non-breeding period, some winter in northern Queensland around Innisfail and farther north around Atherton, and are present between February and November, though their movements are described as erratic (Bravery 1970).

Like their departure times, the return of Satin Flycatchers varies between different regions. They move through Queensland from late August to November, mainly along the coast, arriving in south-eastern Queensland mainly in September. (Nielsen 1991; Storr 1984c; Wieneke 1988). In NSW, they arrive, or are recorded on passage, between September and October. Around Sydney they are occasionally recorded in spring-summer, but usually when on their southern passage, mostly between 26 September and 30 November. Satin Flycatchers arrive in the ACT during October, with most appearing more or less simultaneously (Taylor & COG 1992). In Victoria, they arrive mainly in the east during October and November (Emison et al. 1987). Satin Flycatchers migrate across the Bass Strait in summer (having been recorded on King Island) and arrive in Tasmania in about October (Green & McGarvie 1971). Satin Flycatchers show some site fidelity and are said to return to the same area each year to breed in the Emerald and Gembrook districts of Victoria. In the Dandenong Ranges, a pair is said to have bred in the same tree for three consecutive years, though both claims would require confirmation through banding (Howe 1928).

Populations of the Satin Flycatcher are said to have been reduced by clearing and logging of forests in south-eastern Australia, mainly the loss of mature forests (Blakers et al. 1984). Satin Flycatchers are largely absent from regrowth forests (Loyn 1980; Loyn 1985a; Smith 1984; Taylor et al. 1997b).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Myiagra cyanoleuca in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006qv) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting Myiagra cyanoleuca in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006qv) [Internet].

Andrew, D.G., & D.W. Eades (1991). Twitchers' Corner. Wingspan. 3:9.

BA NRS (2002). Birds Australia Nest Record Scheme.

Barrett, G., A. Silcocks, R. Cunningham & R. Poulter (2002). Comparison of Atlas 1 (1977-1981) and Atlas 2 (1998-2001): Supplementary Report No. 1. Melbourne: Birds Australia, report for Natural Heritage Trust.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Bravery, J.A. (1970). The birds of Atherton Shire, Queensland. Emu. 70:49-63.

Brooker, M.G. (1974a). The Satin Flycatcher-a new record for Western Australia. Western Australian Naturalist. 12:181.

Brooker, M.G. & L.C. Brooker (1989a). Cuckoo hosts in Australia. Australian Zoological Reviews. 2:1-67.

Carpenter, G. (1985). Bird Notes. South Australian Ornithological Association Incorporated Newsletter. 113:8-11.

Coates, B.J. (1990a). The Birds of Papua New Guinea Including the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. Volume 2 Passerines. Alderley, Queensland: Dove Publications.

Cooper, R.M. & I.A.W. McAllan (1995). The Birds of Western New South Wales. Preliminary Atlas. Albury, NSW: NSW Bird Atlassers.

Eckert, H.J. (1987). Satin Flycatcher at Maree. South Australian Ornithologist. 30:82.

Egan, K.H., J.R. Farrell & D.L. Pepper-Edwards (1997). Historical and seasonal changes in the community of forest birds at Longneck Lagoon Nature Reserve, Scheyville, New South Wales. Corella. 21:1--16.

Emison, W.B. & J.W. Porter (1978). Summer surveys of birds in the Mt Cobberas - Snowy River area of Victoria, Australia. Emu. 78:126-136.

Emison,W.B., C.M. Beardsell, F.I. Norman, R.H. Loyn & S.C. Bennett (1987). Atlas of Victorian Birds. Melbourne: Department of Conservation (Forest & Lands) & Royal Australian Ornithological Union.

Ford, H.A. & H. Bell (1981). Density of birds in eucalypt woodland affected to varying degrees by dieback. Emu. 81:202-208.

Ford, H.A., S. Noske & L. Bridges (1986). Foraging of birds in eucalypt woodlands in north-eastern New South Wales. Emu. 86:168-179.

Frith, H.J. (1969). Birds in the Australian High Country. Sydney: Reed.

Gibson, J.D. (1977). The birds of the County of Camden. Australian Birds. 11:41-80.

Gilbert, P.A. (1935). The seasonal movements and migrations of birds in eastern New South Wales. Emu. 35:17?27.

Green, R.H. (1995). The Fauna of Tasmania: Birds. Launceston, Tasmania: Potoroo Publishing.

Green, R.H. & A.M. McGarvie (1971). The birds of King Island. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum. 40.

Green, R.H. & B.C. Mollison (1961). Birds of Port Davey and south coast of Tasmania. Emu. 61:223-236.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter and S.J. Cowling (2006). Boatbill to Starlings. In: The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. 7. Melbourne: Oxford Press.

Hoskin, E. (1991). Birds of Sydney. Sydney: Surrey Beatty.

Howe, F.E. (1928). Notes on some Victorian birds. Emu. 27:252--265.

Leishman, A.J. (1994). The birds of Humewood/Beulah Forest, Campbelltown NSW. Australian Birds. 28:14-26.

Longmore, N.W. (1978). Avifauna of the Rockhampton area, Queensland. Sunbird. 9:25-53.

Loyn, R.H. (1980). Bird populations in a mixed eucalypt forest used for production of wood in Gippsland, Victoria. Emu. 80:145-156.

Loyn, R.H. (1985a). Bird populations in successional forests of Mountain Ash, Eucalyptus regnans, in central Victoria. Emu. 85:213-230.

Mac Nally, R. (1997). Population densities in a bird community of a wet sclerophyllous Victorian forest. Emu. 97:253-258.

McGarvie, A.M. & M.T. Templeton (1974). Additions to the birds of King Island. Emu. 74:91-96.

Morony, J., W. Bock & J. Farrand (1975). Reference List of the Birds of the World. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Morris, A.K. (1975). Australian Birds. 23:7-21.

Morris, A.K. (2001). Central Coast Bird Report. Report of the NSW Field Ornithologists Club: Central Coast Group. Sydney, Central Coast Group, NSW Field Ornithologists Club.

Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes (1981). Handlist of Birds in New South Wales. Sydney: NSW Field Ornithologists Club.

Napier, J.R. (1969). Birds of the Break O'Day Valley, Tasmania. Australian Bird Watcher. 3:179-192.

Nielsen, L. (1991). Birds of Lamington National Park and Environs. Canungra, Qld: Author.

Officer, H.R. (1969). Australian Flycatchers and Their Allies. Melbourne: The Bird Observers Club.

Pizzey, G. & F. Knight (1997). The Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

Roberts, G.J. (1979). The Birds of South-East Queensland. Brisbane: Queensland Conservation Council.

Sharland, M. (1952). Recent Tasmanian records. Emu. 52:59-62.

Smith, L.E. & C.J. Chafer (1987). The avifauna of Bass Point, New South Wales. Australian Birds. 21:1-18.

Smith, P. (1984). The forest avifauna near Bega, New South Wales I. Differences between forest types. Emu. 84:200-210.

Storr, G.M. (1984c). Revised list of Queensland birds. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement. 19:1-189.

Taylor, M. & Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) (1992). Birds of the Australian Capital Territory. An Atlas. Canberra: Canberra Ornithologists Group and National Capital Planning Authority.

Taylor, R., P. Duckworth, T. Johns & B. Warren (1997b). Succession in bird assemblages over a seven-year period in regrowth dry sclerophyll forest in south-eastern Tasmania. Emu. 97:220-230.

Templeton, M.T. (1992). Birds of Nanango, South-East Queensland. Sunbird. 22:87-110.

Traill, B.J., E. Collins, P. Peake & S. Jessup (1996). Current and past status of the birds of Chiltern- a Box-Ironbark forest in north-eastern Victoria. Australian Bird Watcher. 16:309-326.

Wieneke, J. (1988). The birds of Magnetic Island, North Queensland. Sunbird. 18:1-22.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Myiagra cyanoleuca in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:36:04 +1000.