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Common Nightingale - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Rufous Nightingale; Western Nightingale

Photo by Nigel Blake
Little Paxton, Cambridgeshire, May 2006
Luscinia megarhynchos


A grey-brown chat (16 - 17cm)

  • Warm brown above
  • Rusty-brown tail and rump
  • Whitish below with sandy-buff breast and flanks
  • Prominent large black eye with pale narrow eyering
  • Indistinctive grey supercilium

Similar Species

The warm colour and the rusty-red tail are good fieldmarks to distinguish from the similar Thrush Nightingale3. However both species are easily told apart by song.


Breeds in southern England and from Iberia and France east to central Poland, Hungary, the Balkans and Greece, also in the Ukraine, Caucasus and northern Turkey, and parts of the Middle East. Breeds on most larger Mediterranean islands and the coastal strip of North-West Africa. First breeding for Malta was in 1995.
The breeding range extends outside Europe into Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Afghanistan2.
Migratory, leaving breeding areas in late July-early October and passing through the southern half of the Region to winter in sub-Saharan Africa and returning from early April-mid May.

Photo by AJDH
Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, June 2010

Vagrant to Iceland and Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Nepal.


Like all species of the genus Luscinia it was formerly placed in the thrush Familiy Turdidae.


Clements1 accepts three subspecies:

The races differ only slightly in colour and size. They are not always separable.


The habitat is varying through the range of this species. In W and N Europe it prefers open woodland with thickets, usually near water. In S Europe also dry maquis, edges of broadleaf forest without water or pinewoods with rich undergrowth are taken.2


Juvenile, subspecies megarhynchos
Photo © by bievreJJ
Sillans, Plaine de Bièvre, Isère, France, 19 July 2020


The diet includes insects.


The male sings at night.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2005. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334726
  3. Jonsson, L. 1992. Birds of Europe. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-5238-1

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1