A photo of a Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus)
Slaty-backed Forktail

Slaty-backed Forktail

Enicurus schistaceus

The slaty-backed forktail (Enicurus schistaceus) is a species of forktail in the family Muscicapidae. A slim, medium-sized forktail, it is distinguished from similar species by its slate grey forehead, crown, and mantle. It has a long and deeply forked tail banded in black and white, a white rump, and a white bar across its primary feathers; the rest of the plumage is predominantly white. The sexes look alike. The bird frequents the edges of fast-flowing streams and rivers, where it hunts small invertebrates by hopping among rocks or flying out over the water. It breeds between February and July, laying 3–4 pinkish, bluish, or white eggs; both sexes incubate the eggs. The slaty-backed forktail is found near streams and rivers in tropical and subtropical regions, occasionally straying further from flowing water to the edges of roads and trails. Generally a solitary bird, it may occasionally be found in pairs, or in family groups in the breeding season. One of its calls has been described as similar to that of the Blyth's kingfisher, for which it has been mistaken. The forktail is found in the central and eastern Himalayas, the Indian Sub-continent, southern China and continental Southeast Asia. Its wide distribution and apparently stable population have led to it being classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. t is coloured slate-grey, black, and white. The bill is black, while the feet of the bird are a pale pinkish or greyish colour. The iris has been described as dark brown, though it has been recorded as black in certain specimens. It has a black throat and a narrow white stripe across its face till just behind the eyes, sometimes describe as a white mask. The white stripe sometimes includes a white eye ring, which may be either complete or partial. Its ear coverts, chin, and face are also black. The forehead, crown, sides of the neck, and the scapulars are slate grey. It has black wing-coverts, a white patch at the base of the primaries, wide white bars on otherwise black wings, and also a large white patch on its rump and lower back. The bases of the flight feathers are white, which is occasionally visible as a little additional bar on the wing. The tail of the bird is long and evenly graduated, with a deep fork. The tail is largely black except for a white tip. It also has three white bands along its length, formed by the white tips of shorter tail feathers.
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