Bird Families

Flycatcher bird - habitat, lifestyle, diet


Second edition. First published in 1956 by S.M. Semyonov. 1956. Materials on nutrition of the pied flycatcher during the nesting period // Ways and methods of using birds in the fight against harmful insects. M .: 38-39.

Text of the scientific work on the topic "Materials on the nutrition of the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca during the nesting period"

Frolov V.V., Korkina S.A. 1997. About the status of rare bird species of the Penza region on the example

passerines // Fauna, ecology and protection of rare birds of the Middle Volga region. Saransk: 46-49. Khokhlova N.A. 1972. Ecological analysis of the location and number of birds on the shores of the Gorkovsky reservoir // Uch. app. Gork. University 164: 11-21.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2003, Express Issue 245: 1357-1358

Materials on the diet of the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca during the nesting period

Second edition. First published in 1956 *

In 1953, in the Voronezh Nature Reserve, the author collected materials on the nutrition of the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca chicks from 18 nests, mainly by applying bandages to the esophagus. In total, from 5 to 26 July, 937 food samples were obtained and 1275 specimens were collected. arthropods: spiders, millipedes and insects. In addition, 152 copies were collected. animals that remained in the nests after the chicks left. Thus, in total, the food collection for pied chicks is 1427 specimens. animals.

Food was taken from the chicks during the first 13 days of their stay in the nest (usually pied chicks flew out of the nest on the 15th day), about an hour after the bandages were applied.

About 100 species of animals were found in the diet of pied flycatcher chicks - representatives of the arachnid classes Arachnidae, millipedes Myriapoda (Julidae), insects Insecta and gastropods Gastropoda. Insects were found both in the adult phase and in the larval stage. The largest number was spiders - 511 pieces, which is more than 35% of all collected animals. There were many larvae of butterflies Lepidoptera and hymenoptera Hymenoptera (caterpillars and "pseudo-caterpillars"), living openly on tree-shrub and herbaceous vegetation - 241 specimens, or 16%. Almost one number includes adult Diptera (176 specimens) and Coleoptera beetles (170 specimens) - more than 12 percent each. Slightly more than 7% (103 pieces) are represented by adult butterflies. Then there are adult hymenoptera, camels Raphidioptera (83 pieces) and kivsaki (81 pieces) - 5% each, cockroaches Blattoptera, Orthoptera Orthoptera, cicadas Cicadinea and bugs Hemiptera (there are 49 of them) and, finally, beetle larvae (13 pieces).

Almost two-thirds of the animals brought by pied birds to their chicks belong to flightless forms, and only a third are capable of one way or another.

* Semyonov S.M. 1956. Materials on nutrition of the pied flycatcher during the nesting period // Ways and methods of using birds in the fight against harmful insects. M .: 38-39.

degree to flight, in most cases very slow. Fast-flying animals, such as Tabanus horseflies or other flies, are very rare prey for pied birds. Pied flycatchers, therefore, do not live up to their name of flycatchers.

In the first 4 days, chicks are fed mainly by spiders and larvae of Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera; from 5 days of age, adult insects - beetles, dipterans and butterflies - sharply increase in the diet of chicks. The increase in food for insects with wings and a thick chitinous cover coincides with the beginning of intensive feather growth in chicks.

A significant part of the animals is hunted by the pestle on the ground, where the bird flies after it sees the prey. Most often, birds "remove" animals from the branches of trees and bushes during fluttering flight, least of all they get food in the air. The radius of the hunting area, within which food for chicks is obtained, does not exceed 50 m, and the male, as a rule, takes it somewhat closer to the nest than the female.

The frequency of feeding chicks reached 39 times per hour, the average frequency was 21-22 times per hour.In the last days of the chicks' stay in the nest, the frequency of feeding decreased slightly. In the first 3-4 days, the male brings food to the chicks much less often than the female. From day 4-5 to day 9-10, both parents arrive at the nest with food in general the same number of times. In the last days of the stay of chicks in the nest, the male feeds the chicks 1.5-2 times more often than the female.

Of the 1427 animals mentioned, about 600 animals can be classified as pests of forestry and agriculture, or a little more than 40%. The rest are more or less useful or "indifferent" animals.

Noteworthy is the extermination of such pests as larvae of various sawflies and adult insects of this group (pine Diprion pini, red Neodiprion sertifer, spiderweb Pamphiliidae, cereals Cephidae and other sawflies), numerous butterflies and their caterpillars (moths -mantria dispar, oak leafworm Tortrix viridana, Pyraloides fireflies and others), some beetles (Elateridae clickers, Phyllopertha hortícola) and dipterans (mosquitoes, horseflies).

At the same time, even in larger quantities, the pestle destroyed predatory and parasitic animals useful for the economy, especially spiders, as well as useful beetles, hymenoptera and dipterans. However, this still does not give grounds to speak about the negative significance of the pied flycatcher in the conditions of the Voronezh Reserve.

A rich assortment of food, the ability to catch various insects (both adults and larvae), the presence of a large number of pests in food, an easy attraction to artificial nests - all this gives reason to believe that the pied flycatcher can be successfully used to combat forest pests.

Description and features of the flycatcher

Among the feathered tribe, there are many representatives who bring undoubted benefits and are orderlies of forests, gardens and parks, active exterminators of harmful insects. These include flycatcherbird weighing only up to 25 grams.

She is reckoned by scientists to the order of passerines. Its representatives stand out in a separate family, which, in turn, is subdivided by biologists into two vast genera, famous for a huge variety of species.

These are real and variegated flycatchers. In size, such birds reach no more than 15 cm and are similar in size to sparrows - their congeners, but stand out according to their external features by the color of their plumage, which is known for its diversity and depends on the species of these birds.

For the most part, real flycatchers have discreet colors, among them brown, gray, olive colors with white and black blotches can be distinguished. But the colors of the variegated flycatchers are much richer. Representatives of this genus are red, orange, blue and yellow, and are famous for other bright scales of plumage.

The wings of such birdies, whose span is about 20 cm, look rather long in comparison with the size of their insignificant body, but they are not wide at all. Their legs are weak and do not allow their owners to move far and quickly on them.

The beak is powerful and has a remarkable structure, without specifying which flycatcher description will not be complete. It is wide and flattened; a ridge stands out at the beak.

Elastic bristles can be seen along the edges of the beak and at the base, which in some species even cover the nostrils. The tail of most species is straight and short, usually ending in a cutout.

The range of such birds is quite extensive. In Europe, these birds are found almost throughout the continent. To the east, their habitat extends up to the ridge of the Ural Mountains and further across the expanses of Siberia.

They are also found in Central and South Asia, they find refuge in the Caucasus and even further south, even in Africa, where they are also often found flycatcher... And here what kindmigratory or wintering this representative of the feathered tribe directly depends on its habitat.

The winged wanderers inhabiting the northern regions migrate during unfavorable periods, flying to India for the winter, a little to the west - to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and further south - to African countries. For this reason, these birds are usually classified as migratory.

What eats

The very name of these birds speaks about the nature of nutrition and food preferences. Flycatchers are wonderful and gambling hunters for insects, including butterflies, flies, dragonflies. The bird is hunting very interestingly: it hides in the dense foliage of a tree and suddenly jumps up to grab a flying insect in its tenacious beak and instantly return to ambush.

If the weather does not allow the flycatcher to fly, then in the foliage of the trees the bird finds beetles, ants or spiders for itself.


Fragment of the song of the pied flycatcher

The song is the chirping of "pichi-pici-cooli-lychee" or "citrus-citrus-three-twist-three", the cry is a sonorous "pii". Shouting abrupt "vign-vign", the bird from time to time flaps its wings impulsively and slowly moves its tail up and down.


Female incubating clutch

The pied flycatcher is common in the forests of Europe and on the adjacent islands, in the central parts of Western Siberia, as well as in North Africa. Winters in tropical and North Africa. It nests in mixed and deciduous forests, preferring light and sparse groves, forest edges, orchards with old, hollow trees, as well as forest areas rich in hollows, overgrown with aspen and black alder.

Gray flycatcher

The plumage of the bird is gray-brown or gray, according to the name. The tummy is light with rare dark feathers. The legs and beak are dark. The tail and wings are long. The young are distinguished by their brown color. The species lives in Europe and in the west of Asia. He goes to Africa for the winter.

Broad-billed flycatcher

The species, like the gray flycatcher, belongs to the genus true flycatchers, and is very similar to it in appearance. The body length of the bird is 13-14 cm, weight is about 13 g. Females and males are colored the same, in olive-gray tones, with a whitish belly.

The habitat includes Eastern and Southern Siberia, Japan, the Himalayas. The broad-billed flycatcher hibernates in the south of the Asian continent.

Small flycatcher

The species is distributed throughout Eurasia. This bird is small, with a body weight of about 11 g. The back of the male is brown-gray, the breast, head and neck are ash-gray with a red stripe on the throat, which young animals and females do not have. There are white stripes on the sides of the tail and below the belly.

Pied flycatcher

Adult males are colored bright, black and white. The back is black with a gray loin, the head is black with a white spot on the forehead, the tummy is white. The wings and tail are brownish black with white ornaments in the form of spots or stripes. In young animals and females, instead of black plumage, it is gray-brown, and the tummy is painted grayish-white. Body length is 16 cm, weight - up to 20 g. The bird lives in the forests of Europe, winters in Africa.

White collar flycatcher

The species is common in Europe and northern Asia. The body length of the bird is 13 cm. The head of the male is colored black with bright white spots on the throat and forehead. The back, upper wings and tail are also black. All other areas of the body are white. Females are distinguished by brown plumage on the head without white spots, gray color of the wings and back. The legs and beak of the birds are black and gray.

Taiga flycatcher or mugimaki flycatcher

An inhabitant of the taiga, which stands out among its relatives with a bright red breast. The back of males is black with a white stripe on the shoulders and behind the eyes. The tummy is white and the breast is rusty red. The plumage of females and young animals is dominated by a gray-brown color, the breast is yellowish, lighter than that of males.


When a bird lives in nesting places, it does not fly away far from its site, but hunts nearby. When the chicks grow up and stand on the wing, the flycatchers gather in flocks to fly away for the winter.There they keep in flocks, together looking for food for themselves and spending the night in the trees.

The main diet of birds is flying insects. Sometimes it can eat a spider. They hunt most often, trapping their prey in ambush. She finds a convenient place where she can safely look out for prey. All surroundings should be visible from this perch. As soon as the pied flycatcher sees its prey from its hiding place, it immediately breaks off and flies after it. It grabs the insect on the fly with its strong and tenacious beak.

Since the bird has long and narrow wings, it can fly quickly and make various maneuvers. Sometimes it can hover in the air for a short while in order to peck prey right from the leaf, as hummingbirds do.

Sometimes her hunt is different. She sits on a branch in the crown of a tree, and looks out for caterpillars, waving her tail. When a flycatcher has noticed a victim, it will definitely catch it. Sometimes she looks for insects on the ground.

What does a flycatcher (centipede) eat

The flycatcher is a predator, it feeds on various small arthropods, crawling and flying insects, arachnids. Its diet includes flies, spiders, silverfish, termites, ticks and many insects that harm gardens and vegetable gardens. In the human house, they catch cockroaches, moths, bedbugs, fleas and other domestic insect pests.

In the apartment, the flycatcher does not spoil furniture and plants, does not touch human food and generally tries to avoid direct meetings with the owners of the apartment. And to have such assistants on the garden plot is extremely useful.


The pied flycatcher's menu is varied. These are mainly the larvae of various insects: sawflies, ladybirds. The bird will not give up on spiders and cicadas. Flies make up only 1/3 of their diet. Most often, they collect sedentary insects that live on tree branches and grass.

Pied flycatcher with prey photo

In addition to insects, earthworms can also become prey. In the autumn season, when the main food becomes less, the pestle does not deny itself the pleasure of eating berries.

Migratory or wintering

Flycatchers are migratory birds. Many species go to winter in Africa, such as the pied and the gray flycatcher. Others, including the small flycatcher, travel to the southern regions of Asia.

Reproduction and life expectancy

The nesting period is marked by a draft singing flycatchers males, who not only attract females with such melodies, but also jealously guard their territory. And this is a signal to start procreation actions.

With the exception of only certain species of flycatchers, both parents are engaged in arranging a nest in representatives of this family of birds. Together, pairs of birds usually perform the functions of feeding offspring, which is not easy at all.

Gray flycatcher nest

Flycatchers have to fly up to the cubs, according to the most conservative estimates, up to five hundred times a day, delivering food in the beak to the chicks. This intensive feeding lasts about two weeks.

And during this period, the spouses-flycatchers are of great benefit, destroying insects, the total weight of which is several kilograms, and the total number of pests reaches one and a half million. And this is undoubtedly a huge contribution to the preservation of flora on the planet.

Gray flycatchers prefer to nest in the forest. They start building a secluded place for their chicks quite late, by mid-May. And they build a dwelling place for future offspring, using dry grass, straw and plant fibers.

Interestingly, unlike other numerous and diverse species of this family, only the female is involved in these problems. And as a scanty bedding for the nest, these birds are wool and feathers.

Clutch of this variety, usually with up to six speckled, greenish eggs, occurs in June.The plumage of the chicks that soon appeared to the world is characterized by a more brown tint than that of individuals in an adult state.

The clutch of pestles is somewhat different in appearance, has up to seven bluish eggs. But the duration of incubation is, like that of the above-mentioned relatives, about a crescent.

Pied flycatcher eggs

For building nests, small flycatchers prefer shaded forests consisting of tall trees. They raise their chicks in dense thickets of fir trees, sometimes in spruce-deciduous areas.

Its nesting areas are quite extensive in comparison with congeners from other species, and often occupy up to three hundred meters. Eggs are whitish with red blotches. Chicks that hatch after two weeks of incubation are covered with gray down.

Having strengthened, the cubs keep for some time near the parental nest, but soon, having grown bold, they strive for an independent life, settling in dense bushes. This usually happens towards the end of the summer.

Paradise flycatchers seek to hide their nest, which is built from leaves, blades of grass and twigs, in the dense crown of forest trees. At the bottom of the dwelling of future chicks, moss is invariably lined. Their clutch usually contains up to five eggs.

Gray flycatcher chicks

The lifespan of birdies depends on the type of flycatcher. It is usually calculated for a period of up to five years. In the wild, full of dangers, this period is often reduced and is no more than three children. It should be noted that many of the species are endangered.

These include the paradise flycatcher. To restore the population of these wonderful birds, a variety of measures are being taken, mostly aimed at preserving the natural environment where such birds live. For this, ash, alder, maple and oak forests are planted.

Related species

The flycatcher family includes 275 bird species. All of them are small in size and live in Eurasia and Africa. Their food consists of various insects and spiders. Some species belonging to the family are very bright in color. This applies to species that live in the subtropics and tropics. And those that live in areas with a temperate climate are migratory. They nest in the northern territories, and fly to warm countries for the winter. They live in forests of any type. In addition, they can be seen in the city, for example, in a vegetable garden or garden.

Male and female: the main differences

Sexual dimorphism is manifested in variegated flycatchers in brighter and more saturated plumage of males. Females do not look so flashy. Representatives of the genus real flycatchers do not differ in color of individuals of the opposite sex.

Behavior and lifestyle, flycatcher venom

Flycatchers are active mainly in the dark, although they can often be seen during the day in the shaded corners of the forest, garden or home. In response to unfavorable climate changes (cold, drought), centipedes are able to migrate to more suitable places for life.

Flycatchers are sprinters in the world of centipedes. They are capable of moving at a speed of 40 cm / sec. During the run, the insect lifts the body, and in a calm state it practically presses against the surface on which it sits. The structure of the paws allows it to move along surfaces with different textures and to stay on sheer planes. Good sight and sense of smell makes the centipede an excellent hunter, from which no insect can escape.

Thanks to its flexible body, the centipede easily penetrates into any crevices. While hunting, it takes a wait-and-see attitude, and as soon as an insect appears within reach, it quickly rushes at it, bites through the integumentary layer of the body, and injects poison, and then slowly eats it. The large number of legs allows the centipede to catch and hold several insects at once.

For pets and humans, flycatcher venom is harmless, unless the person is allergic to insect bites. The centipede bites only in self-defense, and it rarely succeeds in biting through the skin of a person, cat or dog. If, nevertheless, the insect manages to do this, then the sensations from its poison will be similar to the sting of a bee, and the burning and itching will pass without a trace in a few hours.


The mobile black-and-white flycatcher inhabits a variety of forests - light deciduous, mixed, small groves, old gardens and parks. Like any insectivorous bird, the pied flycatcher flies to us when its main food appears - insects. In our latitudes, this usually happens in April. The male arrives home a week earlier than the female. Arriving in his native forests, he chooses a suitable territory and begins to sing. The pest's song is short, simple, consisting of various sonorous trills. Jumping on branches in the crowns of trees, the little singer notifies the neighborhood that the place is occupied, and the female can fly to him - there is a living space.

Flycatcher pairs prefer to live close to each other - 30-50 m, but not closer. This must be taken into account if you are going to invite birds to your garden plot. Having chosen a suitable shelter, the couple begin construction work. The nests of these birds are different: it depends on where, in which hollow or gap it is built. The main material is dry leaves, pine bark scales, strips of birch bark, roots, twigs. The tray in some nests does not differ from the main material, in others it can be lined with cow or elk wool.

Forest leopards build a nest from forest material. And what about the city? Where can they get enough leaves or thin twigs? So they use what there is a lot in the city. For example, paper, bus tickets, scraps of old newspapers. Not only flycatchers do this: once a magpie's nest was found, which consisted almost entirely of thick aluminum wire!

The coloring of the female pied flycatcher is dominated by grayish-brown tones.


When construction is completed, the female lays 3 to 11 (on average 5-8) pale blue eggs and begins to incubate. This is a long and rather boring occupation. Only the male, bringing food to his friend, entertains her a little. But after 12-14 days, when the chicks hatch, both parents quickly become not bored. Children need to be fed, and in the early days - also warmed. The female, like a true mother, often sits with children, the male brings food. Later, she tirelessly flies from the nest for food and back. However, some males are not limited to one family, but are quite capable of starting another one on the side. It is difficult to predict whose chicks they will feed and take care of. Sometimes the poor abandoned female scurries back and forth with insects in its beak alone, and the male flaunts in front of another friend.

One joy: the chicks are growing pretty quickly. After 15-16 days they leave the nest, but for another week the parents feed them and the brood keeps together. And then - an adult independent life! After the broods disintegrate, the pestles gradually leave for warmer countries. They fly for a long time, without haste, making stops along the way to refresh themselves. Little flycatchers hibernate in Central and North Africa, so the path is not short.


During the nesting period, pied flycatchers bring food to chicks up to 500 times a day. For the entire time of feeding the offspring, parents make about 5,000 flights for food. If you calculate how many insects are destroyed by one pair of flycatchers during the nesting season, you get a very impressive number: their total weight can reach a kilogram. Not bad for a bird weighing no more than 20 g!

Of course, the flycatcher catches not only flies. Her favorite technique is hunting from the perch. The bird sits on a comfortable branch and carefully examines the surroundings.Suddenly it takes off sharply, sometimes hovering in the air like a hummingbird, grabs a small thing flying by an insect and sits back. Thus, flies, and mosquitoes, and beetles, and butterflies fall into the voracious beak.

The bird does not catch more than half of the prey, but collects from branches, leaves and even from the ground. These are caterpillars, small leafhoppers, beetle larvae, sawfly larvae. Interestingly, for more successful hunting, there are special tactile bristles at the base of the flycatcher's wide beak, which help in catching prey.


The male pied flycatcher has several morphs that differ in color. The darkest one has a contrasting black and white color, the lightest one can hardly be distinguished from the female. There are several transitional options between these extremes. Perhaps this is due to the hormonal status of males. It affects more than just coloration. There are differences in nesting strategy and in which males the females prefer. The Pied Flycatcher is a treasure trove of information for an ornithologist. Her gullibility makes the bird a very convenient object for study.