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MTM – Spotted flycatcher ,  Muscicapa striata

The spotted flycatcher is a medium-sized songbird of open woodland, parks and gardens. It has a relatively long tail, which it flicks while it sits patiently on a perch waiting for a chance to fly out and catch its insect-prey mid-air. During the breeding season, spotted flycatchers can be seen across the UK, but they leave here in August for their wintering grounds in tropical sub Sahara Africa. One of the latest summer migrants to return to the UK, spotted flycatchers don’t reappear on their breeding territories until may or even June, and may only be around for a couple of months – just long enough to rear their young. A  streaky, greyish-brown bird, the spotted flycatcher is pale underneath, with a streaky crown and breast.

Flycatcher Fact , The spotted flycatcher is often the last migrant bird species to reach the UK for the summer months.

The spotted flycatcher has a preference for open areas amongst trees to nest. 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.

As the name suggests, spotted flycatchers enjoy feasting on flying insects, which they catch mid-flight. Butterflies, moths, damselflies and craneflies make up this bird’s diet. Wasps and bees also feature, which it makes safe to eat by rubbing the sting end on its perch, removing it.Spotted flycatchers hunt by sitting on a perch, waiting for their prey to fly by before darting to catch it. When flying insects are scarce it will also forage for insects among vegetation.

The spotted flycatcher population is in serious decline. Between 1967 and 2012, the population has dropped by around 89%, making it a red list species of conservation concern. While the definitive reason is unclear, there are many possible explanations for the decline. Conditions in their wintering grounds in Africa could be to blame, as could a decline in flying insects . As with most wildlife here in the U.K. the Spotted Flycatcher is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Fact File

  • Length. 14cm
  • Wingspan. 24cm
  • Weight. 17-20g
  • U.K. population. 45,000 pairs
  • Life expectancy. 2 years


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