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239 illustration

Thrush nightingale

Luscinia luscinia

The thrush nightingale is slightly larger than the sparrow and has a rather long tail. It is plain grey-brown above and grey to white below. It holds its body slightly upright on long legs and hops with a raised tail. It has a loud song featuring a range of whistles, trills and clicks.

The thrush nightingale breeds in Eastern and Northern Europe and overwinters in Africa. It is found in deciduous forests, river valleys, parks and gardens, particularly in damp areas. In the wild, the thrush nightingale is highly secretive.

The nest of the thrush nightingale is built on the ground, often among stinging nettles or resting on a platform of dead leaves. The female lays between four and six eggs and the incubation period lasts two weeks. The thrush nightingale begins to sing in early May immediately upon returning from its wintering ground. The singing stops when the chicks are hatched. The young are fed and cared for by both parents, and the pair usually produces only one brood per season. Thrush nightingales feed on small creeping invertebrates such as beetles, insect larvae and slugs, foraging among rotten leaves and around the base of shrubs.

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