[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Luscinia svecica svecica | [UK] Red-Star Bluethroat | [FR] Gorgebleue ā miroir | [DE] Blaukehlchen-svecica | [ES] Pechiazul roja | [IT] Pettazzurro golarossa | [NL] Roodsterblauwborst

Roodsterblauwborst determination

copyright: J. del Hoyo

Marginally smaller than Robin, with markedly slimmer form and poroportionately longer legs. Small, graceful, elegant chat, with noticeably erect carriage and characteristic cocking and fanning of tail. Bright chestnut patches at bases of outer tail-feathers diagnostic, rest of plumage essentially dark brown above, silky buff-white below with dusky flanks. Breeding male has blue throat, bordered below with black-white-chestnut bands, female has white throat and black-splashed necklace. Marked racial variation in tone of upperparts and color and shape of spot on male's throat. Flight like European Robin but ends in characteristic low sweep into cover. Sexes dissimilar marked seasonal variation in male's foreparts.

Breeds from arctic and boreal upper latitudes to temperate and steppe middle latitudes and mountain regions, continental and mainly cool. Patchiness in south of range suggests approach to relict status. Best adapted to regions intermediate between forest and open plains or valleys, such as wooded tundra with marshy glades among spruce, dwarf willows, and junipers, woods of birch, and shrubby wetlands, ascending from sea-level to high Scandinavian fjells. Also on flood plains and banks of rivers and lakes in dense but low woody vegetation, sometimes with reeds and rushes or willows and alders.

Luscinia svecica is a widespread breeder across much of northern Europe, and occurs more patchily farther south, with Europe accounting for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>4,500,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few countries during 1990-2000, the stronghold population in Russia probably remained stable, and trends were stable or increasing across most of its European range.
This bird inhabits a large part of Eurasia, from Western Europe to the Bering Street and from the Caucasus to the arctic shores of Siberia. It breeds in wet habitats with lush scattered bushes. Several distinct populations can be recognized in Europe. The nominate race svecica inhabits boreal and arctic regions, e.g. in Scandinavia, but has since a few decades also small isolated populations at high altitude in the Alps and Carpathians. It migrates to the south-east and is wintering in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. The race cyanecula inhabits temperate regions of Europe, from northern France to Ukraine. The race namnetum inhabits the coastal regions of France, from southern Bretagne to Aquitaine. It winters mainly in Portugal. A small population, included in cyanecula but in fact not yet described, inhabits the centre and north of Spain. The total population of the European Union (12 Member States) is estimated at 40.000 breeding pairs. It is strongly fluctuating, but on the long term it seems to be quite stable. However since 1970's cyanecula began to increase in numbers and to expand its range. It represents only 5% of the total European population, not including the huge Russian population

Largely terrestrial invertebrates, mostly insects. In autumn, also some seeds and fruits. Feeds on ground, hopping, running briefly, and pausing, also takes items from low vegetation and will catch insects in the air. Searches for food by turning over leaves and soil. Adult catching caterpillar for its own consumption always shakes it to expel gut contents.

This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa and the Americas combined is estimated to be 4,280,000 kmē. It has a large global population estimated to be 500,000-5,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). 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]

Breeding starts late April in Central Europe, late May in Scandinavia, June in Finland. Nest site is on ground in dense vegetation, in tussock, under bush, or in hollow in low bank. Nest is a cup of grass stems and leaves, with roots and moss, lined with hair and finer vegetation. Building by female only. 5-6 eggs, incubation 13-14 days, usually tended to by female but male helps occasionally.

Mainly migratory, west Palearctic populations having extensive wintering area extending from Mediterranean basin south to northern Afrotropics, and east to Indian subcontinent. Northern race, nominate svecica (breeding Scandinavia east across northern Russia), winters patchily right across Mediterranean and over entire African winter range of the species; probably also in Indian subcontinent. South-west races, cyanecula (breeding Spain and central Europe) and namnetum (breeding western France), move between south and west, with concentration on autumn passage in southern Spain and western Portugal, majority then moving south into Africa. Return passage starts early, from late February or early March.