Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Luscinia svecica | [UK] Bluethroat | [FR] Rouge bleu commune | [DE] Blaukehlchen | [ES] Pechiazul | [NL] Blauwborst


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Luscinia svecica EU widespread, also w Alaska OR, n AF
Luscinia svecica abbotti
Luscinia svecica cyanecula
Luscinia svecica kobdensis
Luscinia svecica magna
Luscinia svecica namnetum
Luscinia svecica pallidogularis
Luscinia svecica przevalskii
Luscinia svecica saturatior
Luscinia svecica svecica
Luscinia svecica volgae

Physical charateristics

Marginally smaller than Robin, with markedly slimmer form and poroportionately longer legs. Small, graceful, elegant chat, with noticeably erect carriage and characteristic cocking and fanning of tail.
Bright chestnut patches at bases of outer tail-feathers diagnostic, rest of plumage essentially dark brown above, silky buff-white below with dusky flanks.
Breeding male has blue throat, bordered below with black-white-chestnut bands, female has white throat and black-splashed necklace.
Marked racial variation in tone of upperparts and color and shape of spot on male’s throat. Flight like European Robin but ends in characteristic low sweep into cover.
Sexes dissimilar marked seasonal variation in male’s foreparts.

Listen to the sound of Bluethroat


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : widespread, also West Alaska


Breeds from arctic and boreal upper latitudes to temperate and steppe middle latitudes and mountain regions, continental and mainly cool. Patchiness in south of range suggests approach to relict status. Best adapted to regions intermediate between forest and open plains or valleys, such as wooded tundra with marshy glades among spruce, dwarf willows, and junipers, woods of birch, and shrubby wetlands, ascending from sea-level to high Scandinavian fjells.
Also on flood plains and banks of rivers and lakes in dense but low woody vegetation, sometimes with reeds and rushes or willows and alders.


Breeding starts late April in Central Europe, late May in Scandinavia, June in Finland. Nest site is on ground in dense vegetation, in tussock, under bush, or in hollow in low bank. Nest is a cup of grass stems and leaves, with roots and moss, lined with hair and finer vegetation. Building by female only.
5-6 eggs, incubation 13-14 days, usually tended to by female but male helps occasionally.

Feeding habits

Largely terrestrial invertebrates, mostly insects. In autumn, also some seeds and fruits.
Feeds on ground, hopping, running briefly, and pausing, also takes items from low vegetation and will catch insects in the air.
Searches for food by turning over leaves and soil. Adult catching caterpillar for its own consumption always shakes it to expel gut contents.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Luscinia svecica is a widespread breeder across much of northern Europe, and occurs
more patchily farther south, with Europe accounting for less than a quarter of its
global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>4,500,000
pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few
countries during 1990-2000, the stronghold population in Russia probably remained
stable, and trends were stable or increasing across most of its European range.
This bird inhabits a large part of Eurasia, from Western Europe to the Bering Street and from the Caucasus to the arctic shores of Siberia. It breeds in wet habitats with lush scattered bushes. Several distinct populations can be recognized in Europe. The nominate race svecica inhabits boreal and arctic regions, e.g. in Scandinavia, but has since a few decades also small isolated populations at high altitude in the Alps and Carpathians. It migrates to the south-east and is wintering in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. The race cyanecula inhabits temperate regions of Europe, from northern France to Ukraine. The race namnetum inhabits the coastal regions of France, from southern Bretagne to Aquitaine. It winters mainly in Portugal. A small population, included in cyanecula but in fact not yet described, inhabits the centre and north of Spain. The total population of the European Union (12 Member States) is estimated at 40.000 breeding pairs. It is strongly fluctuating, but on the long term it seems to be quite stable. However since 1970’s cyanecula began to increase in numbers and to expand its range. It represents only 5% of the total European population, not including the huge Russian population
Bluethroat status Least Concern


Mainly migratory, west Palearctic populations having extensive wintering area extending from Mediterranean basin south to northern Afrotropics, and east to Indian subcontinent.
Northern race, nominate svecica (breeding Scandinavia east across northern Russia), winters patchily right across Mediterranean and over entire African winter range of the species; probably also in Indian subcontinent.
South-west races, cyanecula (breeding Spain and central Europe) and namnetum (breeding western France), move between south and west, with concentration on autumn passage in southern Spain and western Portugal, majority then moving south into Africa. Return passage starts early, from late February or early March.

Distribution map

Bluethroat distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *