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European spotted flycatcher


European spotted flycatchers are quite small, slender songbirds with rather large heads, relatively long wings and long tails. They are overall rather plain grey-brown and have no conspicuous markings. The sexes are equally coloured.

With a body length of 13.5 to 15 cm, the species is about the size of a house sparrow. In adult birds, the entire upperpart of the rump, including the hindneck and head, as well as the lesser coverts are a solid dark to greyish brown, only the plumage on the forehead and front upper part of the head is a patchier brown with dark shaft stripes and pale fringes. Wings and tail feathers are darker grey. The primaries and the tail feathers have narrow brownish fringes on the outer plumes, the secondaries are broader and have more whitish fringes. In fresh plumage, the large and medium coverts show beige tips and similarly coloured fringes, with increasing wear these light parts become more and more indistinct. The throat and the entire underpart of the rump as well as the undertail coverts are dirty white, the throat and middle of the breast are finely streaked on this ground, the light brownish overcast breast sides and flanks are more strongly dark streaked. The iris is dark brown. The rather long beak is blackish horn-coloured, the base of the lower beak is lightened. The legs are black.

In juvenile plumage the upperparts are more brown with pale rusty beige to isabelline spots. The secondaries and the greater coverts have reddish brown fringes. The underpart of the rump has a dark spotted pattern on an isabelline background and hardly any stripes.


The European spotted flycatcher is bound to taller trees, which allow it to use free airspace for hunting insects in the air and on the ground due to a large number of perching places. It therefore primarily inhabits sparse areas in forests of all kinds up to copses, but also parks, cemeteries, gardens and avenues in villages and towns. Buildings enrich the habitat by providing nesting sites and an increased supply of insects due to heat radiation. In Central Europe, probably the greater part of the population breeds in the area of human settlements, older parks usually have the highest breeding pair densities.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grauschnäpper). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 20 October 2021