Red-breasted Flycatcher

Ficedula parva



This is a stout bird with two white sections at the base of its black tail; the tail is regularly moving. Adult males are brownish on top, their faces are bluish-grey, the chin and throat is orangish, and the underparts are otherwise buffish white. The eye is dark and big, and has a pale ring around it. Males may take between 2 and 4 years to gain full plumage. Female is brown overall on her back and whitish overall underneath; on the sides of her breast she is flushed with brownish buff. Birds in their first-winter are a dull brown on top and buffish underneath; they have the white markings on their tail.


Gardens with older trees are common habitats, as are valleys in proximity to the coast; orchards and vineyards are occasional habitats. They may tend towards quarries or divots in cliffs if tree-life is scarce.


May hunt insects, mostly flies, taking flight from a perch and pursuing them. Is usually quite timid and inconspicuous, opting for the cover of copses and valleys, or canopies well above the ground.


Diet is mostly invertebrates such as flies, beetles, ants and spiders.


Not a breeding bird of the region. The female lays 5 or 6 eggs and hatchlings depart the nest after about 11-15 days.


The Red-breasted Flycatcher is a migrant bird that the region sees as it passes through, though a small number of birds arrive in spring after getting off-track. Numbers are highest at the start of October, and recently the average annual number of birds has been 86.

Observation Tips

Red-breasted Flycatchers found in the region are usually of their first-winter. Areas of the highest population of this species include Shetland, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Learning the call of this species can be a huge advantage in finding birds and identifying them.


Has a rattly call, often compared to a Wren's, and has a piercing 'chic' call too.
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