Similar in length to European Robin but with much more attenuated form, most obvious in flatter crown, longer wings, and slim rear body extending into rather long taill. Marginally smaller and less robust than Black Redstart. Small, elegantly dressed, and graceful chat, with fine bill, rather long wings and tail, and slim rear body, Brilliant rufous-chestnut rump and tail always eye-catching whether flirted in flight or characteristically quivered on ground. Male blue-gey above, with white forehead and supercilium, deep rufous-orange to white below, with blackface and throat. Female brown-grey above, buff to white below, with pale eye-ring and characteristic demure expression. Sexes dissimilar, much seasonal variation in male.
Breeds in west Palearctic from upper to middle latitudes, mainly continental and lowland, in boreal temperate, steppe, and Mediterranean zonse. Requires sheltered but fairly open wooded or parkland areas with access to dry secure nest-holes in trees, rocks, walls, banks, or other places and without too dense ro tall unbroken undergrowth or herbage. At least in west of range prefers broad-leaved on mixed trees, but in some parts occupies open pine-woods, and is adapted to woodland edges, streamside and roadside trees, orchards, and gardens in human settlements.
Phoenicurus phoenicurus is a widespread summer visitor to Europe, which constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>6,800,000 pairs), but underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although declines continued in various countries during 1990-2000, they abated in much of EuropeŚmost notably in RussiaŚand the species was probably stable overall. Nevertheless, its population size remains far below the level that preceded its decline, and consequently the species is provisionally evaluated as Depleted.
Diet based largely on insects and spiders. four main feeding methods. 1) Picks items from ground, apparently does not probe for worms and rarely searches in leaf-litter, though this recorded in Africa. 2) Feeds in trees and other vegetation, picking items from trunks, branches, and leaves, including by hovering near foliage, etc. 3) Flies from perch on to prey on ground, normally returning to perch to eat it. 4) Takes aerial prey in brief flight from perch.
This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 26,000 km▓. It has a large global population, including an estimated 14,000,000-31,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
In North-west Europe egg-laying from end of April or early May. In Southern Europe: up to two weeks earlier, northern Finland: late May to late June. Two broods over most of range, but only one in northern range. Nest is a hole in a tree, rocks, or building, less often in bank, among tree-roots, or heap of stones, will use readily nest-box. Nest is a loose cup of grass, moss, and other vegetation, lined with wool, hair, and feathers. Clutch size is 5-7 (3-10) with an incubation period of 12-14 days with a fledging period of 14-15 days (13-17).
Migratory. Movement mainly nocturnal, with broad-front trans-desert passages across Africa and Middle East. 2 distinct populations: nominate phoenicurus breeds Europe, Siberia, and north-west Africa, and winters across Afrotropics north of equator; samamisicus breeds around Black and Caspian Seas and in northern Middle East, and winters in Arabia, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Autumn movement through Europe mainly south-westward. Leaves breeding grounds in second half of August, with peak passage through north-west Europe in early September and numbers there diminishing gradually during October. Relatively rare in autumn in North Africa, suggesting tendency for Mediterranean and northern Sahara to be overflown. First arrivals south of Sahara in first half of September, but not common there until mid-October. Spring passage in Africa more conspicuous than in autumn. Vanguard arrives northern Europe in first half of April; main arrivals there mid-April to mid-May, with passage declining into June.