British Wildlife Wiki

The Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), also known as Rufous and Common Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It belongs to a group of more terrestrial species, often called chats.

Range and habitat[]

It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in forest and scrub in Europe and south-west Asia, but is not found naturally in the Americas. The distribution is more southerly than the very closely related Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia. It nests on the ground within or next to dense bushes. It winters in southern Africa. At least in the Rhineland (Germany), the breeding habitat of nightingales agrees with a number of geographical parameters.

  • less than 200 m (600 ft) above mean sea level
  • mean air temperature during the growing season above 14 °C (57 °F)
  • more than 20 days/year on which temperatures exceed 25 °C (77 °F)
  • annual precipitation less than 750mm
  • aridity index lower than 0.35
  • no closed canopy.

Appearance and song[]

The nightingale is slightly larger than the European Robin, at 15–16.5 cm (5.9–6.5 in) length. It is plain brown above except for the reddish tail. It is buff to white below. Sexes are similar. The eastern subspecies L. m. hafizi and L. m. africana have paler upperparts and a stronger face-pattern, including a pale supercilium.

Nightingales are named so because they frequently sing at night as well as during the day.