Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula hypoleuca



The white-edged tail is relatively shorter when compared to the Spotted Flycatcher's, and the Pied Flycatcher is a stouter but smaller bird. Plumage differs through the seasons, and the sexes are dissimilar. During spring/summer, the male is black above, and white below; his black wings have distinctive white bars, and his bill has a white marking at its base. During the autumn months, males, females and birds of their first winter appear similar; they resemble the male in summer, but the black parts are brownish-grey. Juveniles are similar to female adults, but there is a spread of spots on the back and some underneath too.


The Pied Flycatcher tends towards woodland, usually older and with deciduous trees. May also frequent parklands and larger gardens, or areas in proximity to running water.


This is a timid bird that twitches the wings and regularly lifts the tail. When hunting for flies, it rarely returns to the same perch it set out from, something which differs from the Spotted Flycatcher. Sometimes feeds on the ground. Once the young have left the nest, the family vacate breeding territory quickly, and take to canopies or higher branches for feeding.


Diet includes caterpillars, flies, beetles, slugs, ants, spiders, fruits, seeds and millipedes.


Female lays 6 or 7 eggs which she incubates for 13-15 days. Both parents tend to the young, and some males may find a second or third female to breed with; he doesn't tend to further broods as well as the first.


The Pied Flycatcher is a summer visitor to the region, with numbers being around 17 000–20 000 in 2009. Arriving in the region around the middle of April through June and departing in August and September, it heads to the north of Spain and Portugal before continuing to Africa.

Observation Tips

Devon, Wales and the Lake District are top spots for the Pied Flycatcher, and observation is simplest on breeding areas during springtime. The males sing at this time which can help to find them. Because these birds nest in holes, they can be coaxed in to domestic nest boxes.


Has a piercing 'whit' call, and a 'tik' too. The song sounds melodious and chiming.
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