Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Key facts

Scientific name: Muscicapa striata
Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding birds: 36.000 territories

Conservation status: Red
Length: 14 cm
Wingspan: 23 – 25 cm
Weight: 14 – 19 g


Spotted flycatchers have grey-brown upperparts with darker brown upperwings. The scapulars, and median and lesser upperwing coverts have fine, pale buff edges. The uppertail coverts have pale grey edges and the rectrices are dark brown with narrow, white tips.

The underparts are off-white with a pale grey tinge on the breast, flanks and thighs, and the breast and upper flanks have fine grey-brown streaks. The underwing coverts are dull brown with broad pale buff edges.

The head is grey-brown with fine grey-brown streaks on the chin and throat. The forehead and forecrown are pale with dark brown streaks and the lores are white. The bill is dark brown with a paler base to the lower mandible, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are dark brown. Males and females are similar.

Juvenile spotted flycatchers resemble the adults but are have a scaled effect on the upperparts and spots on the underparts.


Spotted flycatchers breed from mid-May to mid-August in the edge of forests, parks, gardens, and woodlands. They are monogamous and produce 2 broods a season. The nest is situated in a hole in a tree, against a trunk or wall, although they will sometimes use old nests. The female builds the nest, sometimes helped by the male, which is a bulky cup-shaped structure made from twigs, rootlets, dead leaves, moss, and dry grass and lined with softer material such as hair and feathers.

Spotted flycatchers lay 2-7 white eggs with red blotches which are incubated by the female alone for 10-17 days. Chicks are fed by both parents and leave the nest about 12-17 days after hatching. If the first clutch is lost they will try for a new brood.


Spotted flycatchers eat mainly flying insects. It hunts by sitting on and exposed branch waiting for prey to fly past. It catches the prey in the air before returning to the perch to eat it. They will also eat spiders, worms, snails, as well as fruit and berries.

Spotted Flycatcher

Where to see them

Spotted flycatchers can be seen across the UK from May to October. Look out for them in churchyards, cemeteries, parks, gardens, and woodland.


Stanislas Wroza/xeno-canto

Did you know?

When spotted flycatchers moult, they replace the outer flight feathers before those nearer the body, unlike most passerines who moult starting with the feathers near the body before proceeding outwards along the wing.

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