Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia)

Thrush Nightingale

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia)

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Luscinia luscinia | [UK] Thrush Nightingale | [FR] Rossignol progne | [DE] Sprosser | [ES] Ruisenor Ruso | [NL] Noordse Nachtegaal


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

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

Listen to the sound of Thrush Nightingale

[audio: Nightingale.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 21 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : North, Central


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.


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.

Feeding habits

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 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 increasing, 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.
Thrush Nightingale status Least Concern


Migratory, wintering entirely in eastern Africa largely 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.

Distribution map

Thrush Nightingale distribution range map


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