Spotted flycatcher

The spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. 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.

This is an undistinguished looking bird with long wings and tail. The adults have grey-brown upperparts and whitish underparts, with a streaked crown and breast, giving rise to the bird's common name.[2] 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 have spots on the upperparts.

Spotted flycatcher
Muscicapa striata 1 (Martin Mecnarowski)
in the Czech Republic
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Muscicapa
M. striata
Binomial name
Muscicapa striata
(Pallas, 1764)


The spotted flycatcher was described by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas in 1764 and given the binomial name Motacilla striata.[3][4][5] The genus name Muscicapa comes from the Latin musca, a fly and capere, to catch. The specific epithet striata is from the Latin striatus meaning striated.[6]

There are five recognised subspecies all of which winter in southern Africa. The breeding range is given below.[7][8]

  • M. s. striata (Pallas, 1764) – Europe to west Siberia, northwest Africa
  • M. s. inexpectata Dementiev, 1932 – Crimea (southern Ukraine)
  • M. s. neumanni Poche, 1904 – islands of the Aegean Sea through to the Middle East, the Caucasus, northern Iran and central Siberia
  • M. s. sarudnyi Snigirewski, 1928 – eastern Iran and Turkmenistan to the mountains of central Asia and north Pakistan
  • M. s. mongola Portenko, 1955 – Mongolia and south-central Siberia

Two other subspecies were previously recognised, M. s. tyrrhenica and M. s. balearica. However, a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2016 found that they were genetically similar to each other but significantly different from the other spotted flycatcher subspecies. The authors proposed that these insular subspecies should be considered as a separate species.[9] The International Ornithologists' Union has split the species and it is known as the Mediterranean flycatcher, while other taxonomic authorities still consider it to be conspecific.


The spotted flycatcher is a small slim bird, around 14.5 cm (5.7 in) in length, with a weight of 14–20 g (0.49–0.71 oz). It has dull grey-brown upperparts and off-white underparts. The crown, throat and breast are streaked with brown while the wings and tail feathers are edged with paler thin margins.[10] The subspecies M. s. tyrrhenica has paler and warmer plumage on the upperparts, with more diffuse markings on the head and breast.[11] The sexes are alike. Juveniles have ochre-buff spots above and scaly brown spots below.[8]

Behaviour and ecology

Spotted flycatchers hunt from conspicuous perches, making sallies after passing flying insects, and often returning to the same perch. Their upright posture is characteristic.

Most passerines moult their primary flight feathers in sequence beginning near the body and proceeding outwards along the wing. The spotted flycatcher is unusual in replacing the outer flight feathers before those nearer the body.[12][13]

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


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

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. The 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.[14]


A study conducted at two different locations in southern England found that one third of nests were predated. The Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) was the most common aerial predator, consuming both eggs and chicks. The domestic cat (Felis catus) predated a small fraction of the nests.[15]

Muscicapa striata MWNH 2281
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
Muscicapa striata clutch 02



Spotted flycatcher nest.

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher

A juvenile flycatcher shortly after leaving the nest.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Muscicapa striata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Spotted Flycatcher". Wildlife in Norfolk. Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  3. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 11. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 314.
  4. ^ Sherborn, C. Davies (1905). "The new species of birds in Vroeg's catalogue, 1764". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections. 47: 332–341 [336]. Includes a transcript of the 1764 text.
  5. ^ Rookmaaker, L.C.; Pieters, F.F.J.M. (2000). "Birds in the sales catalogue of Adriaan Vroeg (1764) described by Pallas and Vosmaer". Contributions to Zoology. 69 (4): 271–277.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 260, 367. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4..
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2016). "Chats, Old World flycatchers". World Bird List Version 6.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b Taylor, B. "Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 17 June 2016.(subscription required)
  9. ^ Pons, J.-M.; Thibault, J.-C.; Aymí, R.; Grussu, M.; Muntaner, J.; Olioso, G.; Sunyer, J.R.; Touihri, M.; Fuchs, J. (2016). "The role of western Mediterranean islands in the evolutionary diversification of the spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata, a long-distance migratory passerine species". Journal of Avian Biology. 47: 386–398. doi:10.1111/jav.00859.
  10. ^ Snow, D.W.; Perrins, C.M., eds. (1998). "Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)". The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Concise Edition. Volume 2: Passerines. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1349–1352. ISBN 0-19-850188-9.
  11. ^ Viganò, M.; Corso, A. (2015). "Morphological differences between two subspecies of spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata (Pallas, 1764) (Passeriformes Muscicapidae)" (PDF). Biodiversity Journal. 6 (1): 271–284.
  12. ^ Jenni, Lukas; Winkler, Raffael (1994). Moult and Ageing of European Passerines. London, San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN 0-123-84150-X.
  13. ^ Svensson, Lars (1992). Identification Guide to European Passerines (4th ed.). Stockholm: L. Svensson. pp. 34, 222–223. ISBN 91-630-1118-2.
  14. ^ Davies, N. B.; Brooke, M. de L. (1989). "An experimental study of co-evolution between the Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, and its hosts. I. Host egg discrimination". Journal of Animal Ecology. 58 (1): 207–224. doi:10.2307/4995. JSTOR 4995.
  15. ^ Stevens, D.K.; Anderson, G.Q.A.; Grice, P.V.; Norris, K.; Butcher, N. (2008). "Predators of Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata nests in southern England as determined by digital nest-cameras". Bird Study. 55 (2): 179–187. doi:10.1080/00063650809461520.

External links

African dusky flycatcher

The African dusky flycatcher, dusky-brown flycatcher or dusky alseonax, Muscicapa adusta, is a small passerine bird of the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. It is a resident breeder in Africa from Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa. It is very common in its woodland habitat, which includes riverine forests, evergreen forest edges and clearings, especially near water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams, and well-wooded suburban gardens.

Arrandene Open Space and Featherstone Hill

Arrandene Open Space and Featherstone Hill is a 25 hectare Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation in Mill Hill in the London Borough of Barnet.

Arrandene Open Space is a large area of pasture divided by ancient hedgerows, and it is one of London's rare traditionally managed old hay meadows. It contains numerous uncommon plant species characteristic of unimproved grassland, such as greater bird's-foot trefoil, common knapweed and ox-eye daisy.Trees include the uncommon wild service tree, and breeding birds include spotted flycatcher, lesser whitethroat, reed bunting and skylark. Featherstone Hill is a partly wooded hill in the south west of the site.

It was purchased by Hendon Council in 1929 to preserve it for public recreation at a time when the area was rapidly developing.There is free public access to the site, which has a network of public of footpaths and a bridleway. There are entrances in Wise Lane, Milespit Hill and Wills Grove.

Barkway Chalk Pit

Barkway Chalk Pit is a small (0.3 hectare) nature reserve in Barkway in North Hertfordshire. It was managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT). In February 2016 HMWT announced that three sites, Barkway Chalk Pit, Hill End Pit and Pryor's Wood, which HMWT managed on behalf of their owner, North Hertfordshire District Council, were to return to Council management as the Trust was no longer able to meet the cost.The site has been designated a Regionally important geological site (RIGS) by the Hertfordshire RIGS Group. It exposes a chalk block which is out of position because it was displaced by the Anglian ice sheet which covered Hertfordshire around 450,000 years ago. The vegetation is chalk scrub, and there are many species of birds, including yellowhammer, spotted flycatcher, blue tit and tawny owl.The entrance to the site is a short distance along an unnamed road which goes north from the junction of The Joint and Royston Road.

Bentley Priory Nature Reserve

Bentley Priory Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserve in Stanmore in the London Borough of Harrow, surrounding the stately home of Bentley Priory. It is a 55 hectare mosaic of ancient woodland, unimproved neutral grassland, scrub, wetland, streams and an artificial lake, an unusual combination of habitats in Greater London.

Dull-blue flycatcher

The dull-blue flycatcher (Eumyias sordidus) is a small passerine bird in the flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. It was previously included in the genus Muscicapa.This species is an endemic resident breeder in the hills of central Sri Lanka.

The dull-blue flycatcher breeds in deciduous mountain forest, invariably above 600m, although it is not common below 900m. The main breeding season is in March and April, but a second brood is often reared later in the year.

The cup-shaped nest is a lined compact mass of moss. The site is usually a well-shaded rock ledge. The normal clutch is two or three brown-spotted pink eggs are laid.

This species is 15 cm long. It is similar in shape to the spotted flycatcher and has a loud melodic song.. Adults are ashy blue, with a whitish belly. There is a black patch between the broad black bill and the eye, bordered with brighter blue above and below. Sexes are similar, but females are slightly duller.

Juvenile dull-blue flycatchers are brown, heavily spotted on the head, back, wing-coverts and breast with pale buff; their flight feathers are broadly edged with blue-grey.

This is relatively easy bird to see, despite its forest habitat. It feeds mainly on flying insects, beetles, caterpillars and other insects, but also eats berries.

Edgware Way Grassland

Edgware Way Grassland or Edgware Way Rough is a 6.7 hectare Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation in Edgware in the London Borough of Barnet. It is traversed by Edgwarebury Brook and contains traces of a planned railway viaduct and embankment. This was part of a planned extension of the Northern line from Edgware to Bushey, which was cancelled when the introduction of the Green Belt after the Second World War led to the cancellation of the developments which the railway was to serve. Part of the site is the Environment Agency's Edgwarebury Park Flood Storage Area.

The reserve is typical unimproved London Clay grassland. Damp, herb rich areas have uncommon plants characteristic of old meadows such as great burnet, sneezewort and devil's bit scabious. The brook is lined by sedges and water-cress, while breeding birds include yellowhammer and spotted flycatcher.The reserve adjoins Edgwarebury Park. It is private land, but is crossed by a public footpath from Edgware Way which starts just west of the junction with Spur Road.

Englemere Pond

Englemere Pond is a local nature reserve near North Ascot in Berkshire. The reserve is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The site is owned by Crown Estate and managed by Bracknell Forest Borough Council.

Grey-streaked flycatcher

The grey-streaked flycatcher or grey-spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta) is a small passerine bird of eastern Asia belonging to the genus Muscicapa in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.

It is a slender, long-winged bird with a length of 13 to 15 cm. It is mainly grey-brown above and white below. The breast and flanks are heavily streaked with grey. There is a narrow white bar on the wing and a pale patch between the bill and eye. The bill and feet are black. The eye is large and there is a white eye-ring. The adult male and female are alike but juvenile birds differ in having white spots and dark scaling on the upperparts.

It breeds in the vast coniferous forests in north-east China, North Korea and south-east Siberia including Sakhalin and Kamchatka. In spring and autumn it migrates through eastern and southern China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In winter it occurs in forests, forest edges and open country with scattered trees in Borneo, the Philippines, Palau, eastern Indonesia and New Guinea. It is a vagrant to Singapore, Vietnam, Alaska and Australia.

It perches in the open, waiting for passing insects, then flies out up to 20 metres to catch them before returning to its perch and eating them.

Hogsmill River Park

Hogsmill River Park or Hogsmill Valley is a linear park along the banks of the Hogsmill River in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in London. It stretches from the junction of Surbiton Hill Park and Elmbridge Avenue in Berrylands in the north to the junction between the river and a footpath to Manor Close in Old Malden in the south.Most of the site is grassland, which has a rich variety of wildlife, including locally unusual plants such as grass vetchling, devil's-bit scabious, pepper-saxifrage. Birds which breed on the site include bullfinch, spotted flycatcher, lesser spotted woodpecker.The site is a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade 1. It is also a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) - or several LNRs. Details on Natural England's website are confused. The page for Hogsmill River Park gives the coordinates and description similar to the details on the London Parks and Gardens Trust and Greenspace Information for Greater London, but the map is of a small wood closed to the public called Hogsmill Wood, north of the A3 road and east of the Hogsmill River. Natural England also shows two duplicate LNRs on the same land, Elmbridge Open Space to the north of the A3 and Southwood Open Space to the south.The London Loop walk goes through the park.

Järveküla Nature Reserve

Järveküla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve founded in 1990, situated by Lake Vörtsjärv in southern Estonia (Viljandi County) near the village of Järveküla. The nature reserve has been established to protect the population of white-tailed eagles present in the area, and includes pine forest and patches of bog.Other birds found in Järveküla Nature Reserve include: the Barn swallow (the national bird of Estonia), Eurasian wryneck, Eurasian golden oriole, Icterine warbler, River warbler, Spotted flycatcher, Eurasian tree sparrow, Common chaffinch, European greenfinch, European pied flycatcher, Eurasian skylark, Fieldfare, White wagtail, Yellowhammer, Hooded crow, Garden warbler, Grey heron, Eurasian blue tit, Eurasian blackcap, Common rosefinch, European goldfinch and Common chiffchaff among others.

M. striata

M. striata may refer to:

Malacoptila striata, the Crescent-chested Puffbird, a bird species endemic to Brazil

Marinula striata, a land snail species found in New Zealand

Morula striata, sea snail species

Mundulea striata, a plant species

Muscicapa striata, the Spotted Flycatcher, a passerine bird species found in Europe and western Asia

Myadora striata, a bivalve mollusc species

Mayfield Park, Bristol

Mayfield Park is a residential area in East Bristol, with a large adjoining park known as the Ridgeway Rd Playing Fields.The area is located on the outskirts of the outer urban area of Fishponds and consists mainly of three roads: Mayfield Park, Mayfield Park North and Mayfield Park South. It is also near the main road of Berkeley Road and the outer urban area with the name of Speedwell, and adjacent to Chester Park. The area has a population of 1,730 (est).

Mediterranean flycatcher

The Mediterranean flycatcher (Muscicapa tyrrhenica) is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. It breeds on the Balearic Islands, Corsica and Sardinia, and is migratory, wintering in Africa. The International Ornithologists' Union has split the species from the spotted flycatcher, but other taxonomic authorities considered it still conspecific.

This is an undistinguished looking bird with long wings and tail. The adults have grey-brown upperparts and whitish underparts, with a streaked crown and 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 have spots on the upperparts.


Muscicapa is a genus of passerine birds belonging to the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae, and therein to the typical flycatchers of subfamily Muscicapinae. They are widespread across Europe, Africa and Asia with most species occurring in forest and woodland habitats. Several species are migratory, moving south from Europe and northern Asia for the winter.They are small birds, 9 to 15 centimetres in length. They have a large head, short tail and a flattened bill, broader at the base. Their plumage is mostly drab brown or grey and rather plain. Young birds tend to be more spotted or mottled.Muscicapa flycatchers typically feed on flying insects which are caught by sallying out from an exposed perch. The nest is usually cup-shaped and built on a tree branch but some African species nest in tree holes.

Padworth Common Local Nature Reserve

Padworth Common Local Nature Reserve is a local nature reserve on the edge of the hamlet of Padworth Common in Berkshire, England. The nature reserve is under the management of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Rodney Stoke SSSI

Rodney Stoke (grid reference ST492507) is a 69.6 hectare (172.0 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, just north of the village of Rodney Stoke in the Mendip Hills, Somerset, notified in 1957.

Part of the site is a national nature reserve and part a Nature Conservation Review Woodland site. This site supports a mosaic of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland, scrub and species-rich unimproved grassland. Rodney Stoke occupies steep south west facing slopes of the Mendip Hills. The underlying rock types belong to the dolomitic conglomerate facies of the Triassic, and to the Carboniferous Limestone series. The latter are restricted to the woodlands Big Stoke and Little Stoke, which along with Calve's Plot Wood are ancient woodland sites. Big Stoke and Little Stoke were almost entirely clear-felled during World War I. Two nationally rare plants occur at Rodney Stoke: purple gromwell (Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum) and the endemic whitebeam (Sorbus anglica). The site supports a diverse fauna. Badgers (Meles meles) are common and two or three setts are occupied each year. Noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula) and pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) roost in Big Stoke. Breeding birds include buzzard (Buteo buteo) and spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata). Small enclosures and tall hedges provide sheltered conditions that are ideal for many species of invertebrate. Butterflies are well represented with marbled white (Melanargia galathea), purple hairstreak (Quercusia quercus), brown argus (Aricia agestis) and grayling (Hipparchia semele).

Stanmore Common

Stanmore Common is a 49.2-hectare public park, Local Nature Reserve and Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation in Stanmore in the London Borough of Harrow in England. It is owned by Harrow Council and managed by the council with a local group. It was a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, but was de-notified in the early 1990s.

Summerfields Wood

Summerfields Wood is a 6.3-hectare (16-acre) Local Nature Reserve in Hastings in East Sussex. It is owned and managed by Hastings Borough Council.There are many paths through this semi-natural wood, which has a number of ponds. Birds include firecrest, whinchat, ring ouzel, wood warbler, spotted flycatcher and pied flycatcher.


Willowmead is a 1.5 hectare nature reserve in north Hertford. It is managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.The site is on the bank of the River Mimram, and it is wet woodland, mainly of alder trees which are often mature. Water voles and otters have been seen in the river. Water birds include kingfishers, mallards and mandarin ducks. There are breeding birds in the woodland, such as lesser spotted woodpeckers and spotted flycatcher.There is access from the road called Becketts.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.