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Pied Flycatcher

European Pied Flycatcher Male Pied Flycatcher Male
A small, bold black and white bird.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Ficedula hypoleuca
Length: 13 cm  (5¼")
Wing Span: 21.5-24 cm  (8½-9½")
Weight: 10-15 g  (½oz) Female Pied Flycatcher Female
Like the male but brown and off-white.
Breeding Pairs: 35 000
Present: Summer
Status: Amber

Description

Pied Flycatchers are smaller than Spotted Flycatchers and have shorter bills and tails.

In the summer, the male has mostly black upperparts and white underparts, a white-edged tail and a large white patch on the wings. There is a small white patch above the bill on the forehead. In winter, the male looks like the female but still has a white forehead.

The female is brown and off-white and lacks the white forehead patch.

Juvenile plumage is similar to that of the female, but has paler spotting on the upperparts and speckling below.

Both sexes and all ages have black bill and legs.

The best places to find Pied Flycatchers are hilly areas with sessile oaks.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Alarm Call
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

The song is a sweet warble that is better remembered as "tree, tree, once more I come to thee".

The alarm call is a repetitive "tic tic".

Feeding

Pied Flycatchers feed on insects, such as caterpillars, flies, bees, beetles, woodlice, millipedes and ants. They spend most of their time darting about the tree canopy and so can be quite difficult to see.

In the autumn they feed on some seeds and fruit, such as currants.

Nesting

Pied Flycatchers breed in woodland, parks and gardens; usually near open spaces, among scattered trees.

The nest is built by the female from leaves, grass, moss and lichens, and lined with hair and wool. They will nest in a hole in a tree, or in a nest box on a tree.

The eggs of the Pied Flycatcher are about 18 mm by 13 mm in size, are smooth and glossy, and pale blue. The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by the female. The newly-hatched young are fed by both adults.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
May 1 4-7 12-13 13-16

Movements

They are summer visitors to western and northern Britain, the males usually arriving in mid-April ahead of the females to stake claim to their territories. They migrate back to western Africa for the winter in August.

Conservation

Past surveys have not provided sufficient data to determine the status of Pied Flycatchers in Britain, but some recent studies have suggested that the population has fallen since the early 1990s, for example, fewer nest boxes being used in long-established nest box schemes. Consequently, the Pied Flycatcher is now on the Amber list of species of conservation concern.

My Garden

Pied Flycatchers have not been seen in the neighbourhood, but a good place locally is Padley Gorge on the National Trust's Longshaw Estate (near Hathersage, Derbyshire).


Last revision: 26 Dec 2014
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2015.
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