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Key facts

Scientific name: Luscinia svecica
Status: Scarce migrant, occasional breeder

Breeding birds: 0-1 pairs

UK passage: 85-600 birds

Conservation status: Amber
Length: 13 – 15 cm
Wingspan: 20 – 23 cm
Weight: 12 – 25 g

What do bluethroats look like?

Adult male bluethroats in summer plumage have brown upperparts and pale buff flanks. Their lower breast and belly are white, and they have an iridescent blue bib with a reddish-brown or white patch on their throats.

Below the bib are black and rust-coloured stripes separated by a thin band of white. They have dark brown tails with rust outer rectrices and reddish undertail coverts.

Bluethroats have brown heads with conspicuous white eyebrows that extend from the forehead to behind the eyes. They have dark brown eyes, black bills with a yellow base, and grey-brown legs and feet.

Out of breeding season, male bluethroats have some white feathers in their bibs.

Adult female bluethroats have a white throat and breast with a band of black spots on the upper breast. Occasionally they may have some blue and rust on the lower breast. On the head they have a broad white moustache bordered with a black malar stripe.

Juvenile bluethroats are spotted brown with reddish tails.

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How do bluethroats breed?

Bluethroats build their nests on the ground hidden in a shallow hole. It is a deep cup built by the female and constructed from grass, bark, roots, and moss, and lined with softer materials such as animal hair.

Bluethroats lay 4-7 pale blue or green eggs with brown speckles, which are incubated by the female alone for 15 days. Both parents feed the chicks which leave the nest 13-14 days after hatching.

If there is a second brood, the male will take care of the first brood of chicks alone.

What do bluethroats eat?

Bluethroats eat mainly insects including beetles, flies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, and dragonflies. They will also take small snails and worms, as well as seeds, fruits, and berries.


Where can I see bluethroats?

Bluethroats can be spotted in the UK on passage between March and May and again between August and October. They are found on the east coast hopping along the ground in grassland and scrubby areas.

What do bluethroats sound like?

Lars Edenius/xeno-canto

Did you know?

There are two subspecies of bluethroats that visit the UK – red-spotted bluethroat (L. svecica svecica), and the rarer white-spotted bluethroat (L. svecica cyanecula). The two subspecies can be distinguished by the spots on their throats.

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