Old World Flycatcher (Muscicapidae)

BIRDS / PERCHING BIRDS /

Old World flycatcher (Subfamily Muscicapinae)

Ficedula flycatchers (Genus Fecedula)

The genus is found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Several species are highly migratory, whereas other species are sedentary.

The flycatchers in the genus Ficedula are typically small with slender bodies and rounded heads. In many cases they are sexually dimorphic in their plumage, with the males being brightly or strikingly coloured and the females being duller or drabber.

Pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) On Migration
Pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) Copyright Peter Drury

Pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
Copyright Peter Drury

The European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) is a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family. One of the four species of Western Palearctic black-and-white flycatchers, it hybridizes to a limited extent with the collared flycatcher. It breeds in most of Europe and western Asia. It is migratory, wintering mainly in western Africa. It usually builds its nests in holes on oak trees.

The European pied flycatcher is mainly insectivorous, although its diet also includes other arthropods. This species commonly feeds on spiders, ants, bees and similar prey.

This is a 12–13.5 centimetres (4.7–5.3 in) long bird. The breeding male is mainly black above and white below, with a large white wing patch, white tail sides and a small forehead patch. The Iberian subspecies iberiae (known as Iberian pied flycatcher) has a larger forehead patch and a pale rump. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles have the black replaced by a pale brown, and may be very difficult to distinguish from other Ficedula flycatchers, particularly the collared flycatcher, with which this species hybridizes to a limited extent.

Where these can be seen:A rare visitor seen only on migration. Found on the perimeter of the salt marsh.

Chats and Allies (Subfamily Saxicolonae)

Robin (Genus Erithacus)

The robins are small passerine birds comprising the genus Erithacus. They were formerly classed as members of the thrush family, but now considered to be Old World flycatchers of the chat subfamily (Saxicolinae).

European robin (Erithacus rubecula) Resident
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) Copyright Peter Drury

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Copyright Peter Drury

The robin, is a small insectivorous passerine bird, specifically a chat, that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher. Around 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in colouration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upper parts and a whitish belly. It is found across Europe, east to Western Siberia and south to North Africa; it is sedentary in most of its range except the far north.

British robins are largely resident but a small minority, usually female, migrate to southern Europe during winter, a few as far as Spain. Scandinavian and Russian robins migrate to Britain and western Europe to escape the harsher winters. These migrants can be recognised by the greyer tone of the upper parts of their bodies and duller orange breast. The European robin prefers spruce woods in northern Europe, contrasting with its preference for parks and gardens in the British Isles.

Where these can be seen:The population increases i the winter but these birds can be seen all the year round, singing from the shrub tops along the Hayling Billy Trail.

Chats (Genus Saxicola)

Stonechats or chats, are a genus of 15 species of small passerine birds restricted to the Old World. They are insectivores occurring in open scrubland and grassland with scattered small shrubs.

European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) Resident
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) Copyright Peter Drury

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
Copyright Peter Drury

The European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a subspecies of the common stonechat. Long considered a member of the thrush family Turdidae, genetic evidence has placed it and its relatives in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.

The stonechat is 11.5–13 cm long and weighs 13–17 g, slightly smaller than the European robin. Both sexes have distinctively short wings, shorter than those of the more migratory whinchat and Siberian stonechat. The summer male has black upperparts, a black head, an orange throat and breast, and a white belly and vent. It also has a white half-collar on the sides of its neck, a small white scapular patch on the wings, and a very small white patch on the rump often streaked with black. The female has brown upper parts and head, and no white neck patches, rump or belly, these areas being streaked dark brown on paler brown, the only white being the scapular patch on the wings and even this often being buffy-white.

European stonechats breed in heathland, coastal dunes and rough grassland with scattered small shrubs and bramble, open gorse, tussocks or heather. They are short-distance migrants or non-migratory, with part of the population (particularly from northeastern parts of the range, where winters are colder) moving south to winter further south in Europe and more widely in north Africa.

Where these can be seen: These can be seen at low tide, searching for food amonst the exposed seaweed.

Wheatear (Genus Oenanthe)

The wheatears are passerine birds of the genus Oenanthe. They were formerly considered to be members of the thrush family Turdidae, but are now more commonly placed in the flycatcher family Muscicapidae. This is an Old World group, but the northern wheatear has established a foothold in eastern Canada and Greenland and in western Canada and Alaska.

Northern wheatear or wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) On Migration
Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Copyright Peter Drury

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Copyright Peter Drury

The northern wheatear or wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It is the most widespread member of the wheatear genus Oenanthe in Europe and Asia.
The northern wheatear is larger than the European Robin at 14½–16 cm length. Both sexes have a white rump and tail, with a black inverted T-pattern at the end of the tail.

The plumage of the summer male has grey upper parts, buff throat and black wings and face mask. In autumn it resembles the female apart from the black wings. The female is pale brown above and buff below with darker brown wings. The male has a whistling, crackly song. Its call is a typical chat chack noise, and the flight call is the same.

The northern wheatear is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in open stony country in Europe and Asia with footholds in northeastern Canada and Greenland as well as in northwestern Canada and Alaska. It nests in rock crevices and rabbit burrows. All birds spend most of their winter in Africa.

The northern wheatear makes one of the longest journeys of any small bird, crossing ocean, ice, and desert. It migrates from Sub-Saharan Africa in Spring over a vast area of the northern hemisphere that includes northern and central Asia, Europe, Greenland, Alaska, and parts of Canada. In Autumn all return to Africa, where their ancestors had wintered. Arguably, some of the birds that breed in north Asia could take a shorter route and winter in south Asia; however, their inherited inclination to migrate takes them back to Africa.

Where these can be seen: These are seen on migration and can be found on the coastline pickig their way through seaweed in search of food.

 Old world flycatchers and chats Gallery