Key facts

Scientific name: Luscinia megarhynchos

Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding pairs: 6.700 males

Conservation status: Red

Length: 16 – 17 cm

Wingspan: 25 cm

Weight: 16 – 40 g


Adult nightingales have plain brown upperparts with a rust coloured rump and tail. Their underparts are pale buff with a sandy breast and flank.

Nightingales’ heads are rusty brown and they have a white chin and throat. Their eyes are dark brown surrounded by a white ring and they have a black bill. Legs and feet are brown.

Juvenile nightingales are pale brown with buff spotting. Their bills, feet and legs are paler than the adults.


Nightingales build their nests near the ground will camouflaged amongst leaves. The cup-shaped nest is made from dead leaves and grass lined with finer grass, feathers and hair.

Nightingales lay 4-5 olive green eggs that are incubated by the female for 13-14 days during which time she is fed by the male.

Thc chicks fledge at  10-12 days and can fly 3-5 days later. Parent nightingales will feed them for another 2-4 weeks after which the female will lay a second clutch of eggs.


Nightingales eat invertebrates such as beetles, ants, flies, worms and spiders. They will also supplement their diet with seeds and berries in the autumn.


Where to see them

Nightingales can be found mainly in the south and east of the UK and breed mostly south of the Severn-Wash line.

They arrive in April and depart from July until September.


Frank Lambert/xeno-canto

Did you know?

It is very unlikely that a nightingale has ever sung in Berkeley Square; the habitat is wrong and there are few records of nightingales in inner London.

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