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Restless Flycatcher

(Myiagra inquieta)
Alternate name(s): "Scissors Grinder", "Scissors Sharpener", "Dishwasher", "Crested Wagtail", "Dishlick", "Grinder"
Aboriginal name(s): "djidengot", "wiring", "djowidjowi" (WA)

Size: 16-21 cm
Weight: 20 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Restless Flycatcher at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information




Frontal view of a male(?) Restless Flycatcher; note the jet-black lores (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, February 2017]

Near-frontal view of a male(?) Restless Flycatcher; note the jet-black lores
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2011]

Lateral view of a male(?) Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Here the Restless Flycatcher is looking up to see whether there are insects under the awning of our roof
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Restless Flycatcher with almost entirely white frontal plumage and a glossy blue-black back
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2007]

The same Restless Flycatcher as above, now with a clear view of its bill from above
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2007]

Lateral view of a male Restless Flycatcher; one can see clearly the glossy blue-black feathers on its back; the buff colour patch on the breast is very faint
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Near-dorsal view of a male(?) Restless Flycatcher (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, February 2017]

This is how a Restless Flycatcher produces its incredible call... Note the pronounced buff breast patch, tapering off into a paler tint further down, while its throat is white
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Restless Flycatcher in fresh plumage, giving it a buff tint all over its front parts which will turn white as the feather tips wear
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Here we have a Restless Flycatcher with a fashionable new hairdo - crown feathers being swept forward by a tailwind
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Lateral view of a hovering Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2014]

Lateral view of a hovering Restless Flycatcher, showing both the upperwing and underwing pattern (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Dorsal view of a hovering Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2011]


Frontal portrait of a female(?) Restless Flycatcher; note the grey lores, as opposed to the males' black lores (above)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, Mayy 2014]

This slightly different angle shows the rictal bristles, i.e. the hairlike feathers around the bill, of a Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2014]

Lateral view of a female(?) Restless Flycatcher taking off from its perch (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, July 2014]


Near-frontal portrait of an immature Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2013]

Frontal portrait of an immature Restless Flycatcher
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2013]

Ventral view of a juvenile Restless Flycatcher; another (bad) photo shows that the bird's gape is still yellow; note also the short tail
[Near Walgett, NSW, October 2010]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Mar Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 14 - 15 days Fledging age: 13 - 16 days

The breeding season depends on geographical latitude and on weather conditions. Given the right conditions, Restless Flycatchers can breed almost all year round, from about August to May.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Grass stems, rootlets, bark strips, lichen, webs Height above ground: 2 - ? m

Restless Flycatcher nest on an horizontal fork in a Cypress pine tree, about 1.5 m out from the trunk
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

The same Restless Flycatcher nest as shown above, now seen from a different angle
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

This photo, taken from the opposite side of the tree trunk, shows that there are two Restless Flycatcher chicks in the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

A few days later, when no chicks were visible and the nest looked abandoned, we went to take a shot from above, only to find that the brood had failed during a long rainy spell; the Cypress pine tree had also been teeming with ants when the nest was first found; they certainly did their job once the chicks were dead...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Restless Flycatcher nest in a fork of a Bottlebrush tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 20 x 16 mm Colour: Greyish-white, with mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval


Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Restless Flycatchers are audacious birds that will enter patios and other partly enclosed structures in search of insects. They will approach humans to very short distances, sometimes arm's length.

Restless Flycatcher using a bicycle handlebar as perch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2013]

Food, Diet

Like all other members of the Myiagra family known to us, Restless Flycatchers are insect hunters (as their name already suggests).

This Restless Flycatcher has taken an ant
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Restless Flycatcher taking a larger insect
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Occasionally also seen by us (during winter) to take psyllids/lerps from the underside of eucalypt leaves in hovering flight.

Additional information

There is a separate page with a short description of psyllids and lerps.


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Click here for more recordings
rstless_20140715.mp3 inquieta
Contact call(?) © MD
rstless_20140304.mp3 inquieta
Contact calls(?) © MD
rstless_20140715_4.mp3 inquieta
Pair Q&A © MD
rstless_20151202_2.mp3 inquieta
Territorial calls(?) © MD
rstless_20151202_3.mp3 inquieta
Territorial calls(?); long sequence © MD
rstless_20140224.mp3 inquieta
"Scissor grinder" calls © MD
rstless_20140112.mp3 inquieta
Warning call(?) © MD
rstless_20140404.mp3 inquieta
Upset (mobbed by Willie Wagtail) © MD
rstless_20160104_2.mp3 inquieta
Upset (near nest) © MD
rstless_20160202_3.mp3 inquieta
Killing prey? © MD
rstless_20140128_2.mp3 inquieta
Various © MD
rstless_20151202.mp3 inquieta
Various © MD
rstless_20140715_2.mp3 inquieta
Various (pair) © MD
rstless_20160202.mp3 inquieta
Various © MD
rstless_20140128_3.mp3 inquieta
? (hunting) © MD
rstless_20160104_3.mp3 inquieta
? (hunting) © MD
rstless_20140220.mp3 inquieta
? © MD
rstless_20140220_3.mp3 inquieta
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.