Nightingale

Luscinia megarhynchos

16.5cm

Appearance

Bigger than the Robin. Adults are brownish on top, the rump and tail are reddish-chestnut, the underparts are greyish white, and the breast is pale buffish. Juvenile is similar, but is mottled.

Habitat

Breeding territories include dense hedges, the margins of woodland, plantations (especially young conifer) and scrub. Nightingales are usually fairly close to waterways or pools. Winter habitat is the scrub and woods of Africa.

Character

This is a timid bird that can be difficult to spot, though it is tamer in regions where it is more common. Loiters on the ground in vegetation; stands with straight legs, flicks its wings regularly, and its tail is often erect.

Food

Eats berries in autumn, and insects all year round including beetles, ants and flies.

Breeding

Female lays 4 or 5 eggs between April and June and incubates them for about 13 days. Both adults care for young, which fledge at about 11 days old, and gain independence 2-3 weeks after departure from the nest.

Population

Birds reach the region in April and depart between July and September. It's thought that birds from Europe often fly over the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert. There are more than 6700 Nightingales in Britain.

Observation Tips

Sometimes seen on the coast as it migrates through the region; a flash of red tail as a bird dashes to cover is also fairly familiar. Nightingales may sing at any time, but they do so more frequently at dusk, so try a walk at this time during breeding season, particularly in areas of southeast England.

Voice

Has a far-reaching, complex song that consists of clicks, whistling and flute-like sounds, often preempted by a 'tu-tu-tu-tu' call. Also has a more gentle 'hweet' call.
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