The blackcap - the "mock nightingale"


The blackcap - the "mock nightingale"

The blackcap is a grey warbler, easily identified by its distinctive cap. Males have black caps (as the name suggests), while the female’s cap is chestnut brown.

This migratory songbird has a thin, dark-coloured beak and brownish-grey wings. It is a similar size to a robin, measuring around 13cm in length.

The bird has a melodious and varied song that resonates through woodlands and gardens alike. This has led to it being described as the "mock nightingale".

These agile birds have a versatile diet, primarily feeding on insects and berries. They are particularly fond of mistletoe berries, and are extremely efficient at spreading mistletoe seeds, eating the flesh of the berry and wiping the seed on a branch, allowing it to potentially germinate there.

Blackcaps favour woodland habitats, but will venture into parks and gardens if there are lots of trees and shrubs available. They occur throughout the UK, with the exception of the Scottish Highlands.

Blackcaps will visit bird feeders and will sometimes lurk nearby like the mythical troll under a bridge to fight off other birds arriving to feed.

Arriving in Britain during the spring and departing in the autumn, blackcaps undertake an impressive migration, some traveling from as far as southern Europe and North Africa.

Despite predation and hunting in Mediterranean countries, the blackcap seems to be doing well and is increasing its range.

In recent years, there has been a notable change in the blackcap's behavior. Traditionally, they were considered summer migrants, but an increasing number now choose to overwinter in the UK, attracted by the availability of food in gardens. This shift in behaviour has intrigued ornithologists and highlights the adaptability of these charming birds.

Image is from Wikimedia and shows a female blackcap.

Further reading

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