Thrush Nightingale

Thrush Nightingale


Profile Thrush Nightingale     Literature page Thrush

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Luscinia luscinia | [UK] Thrush Nightingale | [FR] Rossignol progné | [DE] Sprosser | [ES] Ruiseñor Ruso | [IT] Usignolo maggiore | [NL] Noordse Nachtegaal

Noordse Nachtegaal determination

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An adult nightingale measures 16-18 centimeters, weighs 21-29 grams, and has a wingspan of 24-26 centimeters. It is similar in size to the common nightingale. The adult male is very slightly larger than the adult female, on average, but the species is not considered to exhibit sexual dimorphism. The nightingale would not stand out in a crowd of birds. It’s feathers are entirely brown, except its underside, which is covered in white feathers. The belly and chest may have brown spots or mottling. The brown of its feathers has a stronger olive hue than that of the common nightingale. It has brown eyes, and lacks the white ring around its eyes that the common nightingale possesses.

Food Habits

Breeds in west Palearctic in middle and lower-middle latitudes, with some oceanic bias, in mild and warm temperate, Mediterranean, and steppe climatic zones.
Inhabits more continental, easterly and northerly temperate breeding grounds, over lapping boreal and steppe zones in middle latitudes.
Essentials of habitat comprising deep soft humus with ground cover of dead leaves, tall and dense but patchy herbage, and plenty of tall bushes, shrubs, or low trees forming thicket or open woodland, are typically found along river banks or near standing water.

Luscinia luscinia is a widespread summer visitor to north-eastern Europe, which
constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
very large (>3,700,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there
were declines in some marginal populations during 1990-2000, key populations in
the core of the breeding range-notably Russia-were stable, and the species remained
stable overall.

Mainly arthropods and some fruit. Feeds largely on ground, hopping around and disturbing leaves to search, particularly during nestling phase also feeds in herb and shrub layers and even recorded foraging in crown of tree. Will also take flying insects in brief aerial-pursuit, and recorded clinging to tree-trunk like tit.

This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 3,900,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 7,400,000-14,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

Breeding starts in May over most of range. Nest ite on ground, among dead branches, roots, or thick leaf litter, frequently in heavily shaded position. Nest loose and bulky structure, with basal pad of leaves and cup of grass leaves and stems, lined with finer material and hair, building by female only.
4-5 eggs. Incubation 13-14 days by female only.

Migratory, wintering entirely in eastern Africa¾largely south of equator with some north to southern Ethiopia and some as far south as Natal. West Baltic population heads south-east before turning south into north-east Africa.
Leaves breeding areas mainly from early August, although first passage in Crimea by late July. Passage on Turkish Black Sea coast from mid-August to late September, up to late September on Bosporus. Passes through Middle East from late August to early October, peaking mid-September. Movement into Kenya begins end of October. Main arrival in southern Africa from late November.
Leaves winter quarters in March, and exodus complete by early April. Occurs mid-April to mid-May on European coasts of Black Sea, and reaches south-west of breeding range (Rumania) from mid-April. In European FSU, arrives from late April in south of range to early or mid-May in north. Arrives in Sweden in first half of May. Spring records in Britain far more frequent than autumn records, possibly linked to range expansion.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 21 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 23 cm
  4. size min.: 15 cm
  5. size max.: 16 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 11 days
  8. incubation max.: 14 days
  9. fledging min.: 9 days
  10. fledging max.: 10 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 4
  13. eggs max.: 5
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Noordse Nachtegaal status Least Concern
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