Australian Bush Birds
Jackie Winter  -  Microeca fascinans
Jacky Winter
Jacky Winter with grey back, white underparts and black-brown tail feathers with white edging.
photograph photograph
Left. Head showing the dark line through the eye with the lighter coloured eyebrow and the bristles around the base of the beak.
Right. View from the rear showing darker tail feathers with white edging.
map map The Jackie Winter - Microeca fascinans - is a small (13 centimetres), mainly brown, flycatcher. Head and upper body are mid to deep grey-brown with a lighter coloured line above each eye joining above the beak and a darker line from the base of the beak, through the eye to the back of the head. Eye is brown. The bill is short, tapering and black. Upper wing feathers are brown with white edging; tail feathers are darker (closer to black-brown) with the outer two or three feathers partly or completely edged white. Underparts are white washed pale grey-brown over the breast. Feet are dusky.

Widespread through open eucalyptus woodland, prefers open woodlands, farm paddocks or lines of woodland through open fields; wherever there are bare branches and stumps one to five metres above the ground to serve as perches and where undergrowth is clear enough to allow insect hunting flight. Like most other flycatchers, Jackie Winters feed by flying from set perches, picking insects out of the air, from foliage, or from the ground, before returning to that same perch, or to another perch. Aerial manoeuverability is excellent; they can dive, twist and easily turn back. The birds hover low over the ground, or close to tree trunks of foliage while searching for food.

Jackie Winter - page 2
On returning to the perch Jackie Weavers twitch their tail from side to side displaying the white; this may be signalling to maintain contact with other individuals. Most feeding is done in the morning and at dusk.

The Jacky Winter occupies a similar feeding niche to the Lemon-bellied Flycatcher but lives in drier woodlands while the two species overlap in the north.

Jackie Winters are sedentary; established pairs staying in the same 10 to 15 hectare territory all year.

Except for family groups after breeding the birds are solitary or in pairs.

Breeding takes place from July-August to January-February; rainfall can influence breeding times in the north. The nest is a tiny saucer of fine grass, sometimes hair or fine bark, bound with cobweb and decorated with lichen or bark; lined with finer fibres. Built on a large, bare branch or horizontal fork 0.5 to 22 metres above the ground. Usually two, rarely three, eggs; pale grey-blue or green-blue, marked with browns and lavender-grey all over, often forming a cap or band at the larger end; long-oval in shape about 20mm by 15 mm. Incubation takes 17 to 18 days by both parents. Chicks fledge in about 18 days

There are three or four races of Jackie Winter in Australia depending on the classification scheme used. Colouring is mainly darker in the south becoming paler in the north and towards arid regions.

   Field Guide to Australian Birds - Morecombe, pages 280-281.
   Field Guide to the Birds of Australia - Simpson & Day, pages 226-227.
   Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds - page 397.