Belongs to: warblers

Compare with: marsh tit

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Best time to see: Apr to end Sep

Key facts

Best known for its clear flute-like song, which even rivals the nightingale

Habitat: open woodland with well-developed undergrowth

Widespread summer visitor, increasing consistently for several decades


Uniformly grey-toned with distinctive black cap in male, rust in female; 13–15 cm

Generally keeps well hidden in vegetation, with short jerky flights from one patch of cover to the next

Feeds on insects, plus fruit and berries in autumn; clear flute-like song 


Nest is a frail cup of dried grass lined with hair in bushes or coarse vegetation

Two broods May to July; 5 white eggs, blotched reddish

Breeding birds migrate to sub-Saharan Africa, being replaced in winter by migrants coming in from Europe

© Alan Williams

© David Harrison