Spotted Flycatchers

The Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata, is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family.

Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata - parent and young
Spotted Flycatchers

Distribution / Range

It breeds in most of Europe and western Asia, and is migratory, wintering in Africa and south western Asia. It is declining in parts of its range.

They are birds of deciduous woodlands, parks and gardens, with a preference for open areas amongst trees.

Description

This is an undistinguished looking bird with long wings and tail. The adults have grey-brown upperparts and whitish underparts, with some streaking on the breast.

The legs are short and black, and the bill is black and has the broad but pointed shape typical of aerial insectivores. Juveniles are browner than adults and show the spots on the upperparts which give this species its name.

Their upright posture is characteristic

Diet / Feeding

Spotted Flycatchers hunt from conspicuous perches, making sallies after passing flying insects, and often returning to the same perch. .

Spotted Flycatchers, Muscicapa striata - young one begging to be fed by parent
Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata

Breeding / Nesting

They build an open nest in a suitable recess, often against a wall, and will readily adapt to an open-fronted nest box. 4-6 eggs are laid.

Interestingly, most European birds cannot discriminate between their own eggs and those of other species. The exception to this are the hosts of the Common Cuckoo, which have had to evolve this skill as a protection against that nest parasite. Spotted Flycatcher shows excellent egg recognition, and it is likely that it was once a host of the Cuckoo, but became so good at recognising the intruder’s eggs that it ceased to be victimised. A contrast to this is the Dunnock, which appears to be a recent Cuckoo host, since it does not show any egg discrimination.

Spotted Flycatcher nest
Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata

Calls / Vocalizations

The flycatcher’s call is a thin, drawn out soft and high pitched tssssseeeeeppppp, slightly descending in pitch.

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds

Beautyofbirds.com's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.