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Eurasian Blackcap - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Sylvia atricapilla)
Photo © byMahsleb
Minsmere, UK, April 2009
Sylvia atricapilla


13.5-15cm (5¼-6 in)

  • Greyish-brown upperparts
  • Light olive-grey underparts
  • Crown is glossy-black in male - reddish-brown in female and juvenile.
Photo © by: Fuchsia


On several of the Atlantic islands that have resident Blackcap, there is a partly melanistic morph (Veiled Blackcap) which may occur in about 2% of the birds in Madeira and the Azores, less on the other islands (see image further down this page).


Widespread and generally abundant in the Western Palearctic.
Breeds in the British Isles (except western Ireland and northern Scotland), and from Iberia and France east to the Urals.
Range extends to 70 degrees north in coastal Norway, to the head of the Gulf of Bothnia in Sweden, southern Finland and almost to the White Sea in Russia. In the south found as far as southern Spain, the Balearics, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, Italy, Greece and northern Turkey east to the Caucasus. Also breeds on the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands and in northern parts of Morocco and Algeria.

Birds from central Europe eastwards and north to Scandinavia are migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa and in western Europe from Britain southwards, around the Mediterranean and in North Africa. Western and southern birds are resident or partially migratory, incidence of wintering is increasing in Britain and North-West Europe. Most British birds migratory, arriving in April-May and departing August-September with variable but generally small numbers wintering.

Photo © by tedk
Lancashire, UK, July 2011

Vagrants have been recorded in Iceland while it is seen quite commonly during migration in the nearby Faroe Islands.



There are 5 subspecies[1]:


Photo © by gold21
Mere Sands, Lancashire, August 2016

Deciduous, mixed and in some areas, coniferous, forest and woodland with tall shrubs, sometimes in scrub with taller trees nearby. Also in parks, large gardens and orchards. In winter occurs in a wide range of habitats with trees and bushes and a frequent visitor to garden birdtables in parts of Europe.



The diet includes insects and berries.


The female builds a cup shaped nest from vegetation and mud, placed in a hedge, bush, or brambles. 4-6 glossy, smooth, pale buff with dark markings eggs are laid. They are incubated by both parents who both feed the young.


"Veiled Blackcap", the partially melanistic morph found within subspecies S.a. heineken,
Artwork © by spizaetos
Madeira and Azores islands

Call: teck or tacc (louder than Lesser Whitethroat)
Song: Sings from a concealed perch. Beginning is similar to Garden Warbler but less sustained; ends with flutey notes.

Recording by Waxwings
Liguria, northern Italy, July 2016


  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. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  5. British Garden Birds
  6. Paper from "The Bulletin of the African Bird Club" about the Veiled Blackcap

Recommended Citation

External Links

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