Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

14.5cm

Appearance

The sexes are similar. Adults are greyish brown above, off-white underneath with strong breast streaks and some streaking on the top of the rounded head, and white-edged wing feathers. The bill is dark and thick, and the wings and tail are relatively long. Juveniles resemble adults, but they have light-coloured spotting above and some dark spotting below.

Habitat

The ideal Spotted Flycatcher environment includes gardens and parklands with a combination of young and older trees and plant life, woodland glades and the margins of woodlands.

Character

Often sets off on a fly-hunt from a visible position such as a branch; it stalks its prey with great agility, then returns to the initial perch or one nearby.

Food

Flying insects are regularly eaten, including large flies and butterflies too. When these are harder to come by, birds may eat aphids and smaller flies; females may eat snails and woodlice before laying, because of their high calcium content.

Breeding

Female lays a clutch of 4 or 5 eggs and incubates them for 13-15 days. The young are tended to by both parents and depart the nest at 13-16 days old. They depend on parents for 12-32 days more. A second brood is sometimes raised, most often in the south of the region.

Population

The Spotted Flycatcher is mostly a summer visitor that is thickly distributed across the region; approximately 36 000 pairs breed in the UK and more than 20 000 in Ireland. Most birds arrive at the end of May, and this timing is affected by the weather in the south of Europe. Breeding birds tend to leave the region in July and August, and most winter in the southern hemisphere. Some birds are passage migrants, mostly from the east, and they visit in September.

Observation Tips

The Spotted Flycatcher is best observed as it hunts, not only because it is a sight to behold, but because it gives the bird an identifying feature. It can otherwise be quite difficult to separate from other species, as its markings do not stand out particularly well.

Voice

Has a 'tsee' call, a more piercing 'ees-chik' alarm call, and the song is a combination of unobtrusive high and low notes.
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