Thrush Nightingale Bird (Luscinia luscinia)

Thrush nightingale

Thrush nightingale birds, also known as Luscinia luscinia or the sprosser, are small birds belonging to the genus Luscinia of the family Muscicapidae, native to woodlands of temperate Europe and Asia. It has been introduced in North America, where it has become established in New England and Washington state (U.S.), and British Columbia (Canada).

A medium-sized bird, it has olive-brown upperparts, paler underparts, streaked flanks, and white outer tail feathers which contrast with the blackish tail; the undertail coverts are also white except on central rectrices, which are orange-brown with black bars.

It’s a medium-sized species of nightingale with brown upperparts, pale buff underparts, white facial markings, and black on the tail, wings, and face. The sexes are similar in size and plumage pattern except for some differences in the wing length of females.

Thrush nightingale birds description

Thrush nightingale

The thrush nightingale bird, Luscinia luscinia, is a small migratory European songbird belonging to the typical warbler family, Sylviidae. It is often referred to as the musician of the woods due to its ability to create what many people believe to be one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

It has been compared to the sound of string instruments such as violins and harps. One of the reasons that it creates this pleasant sound is because it does not sing with its throat like other birds. Instead, it sings by forcing air across three tiny openings at the end of its trachea: two lateral slits and one central slit.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Thrush nightingale bird is Luscinia luscinia

Habitat & distribution

The Thrush Nightingale Bird is a migratory species, spending its winters in West Africa. They breed across most of Europe and Asia, but also in many parts of North America. They prefer open woodland with dense undergrowth where they can hide their nests.

Song Thrush Bird (Turdus philomelos)

The population trend for the Thrush Nightingale Bird has been steadily declining over the last century, with the causes believed to be habitat loss and degradation and changes in winter feeding habits due to climate change.

Thrush nightingale bird size and weight

The thrush nightingale bird can vary in size depending on where it is found geographically. Generally, the average size of a thrush nightingale bird is 16 cm in length with a weight of 25-30 grams.

Feathers and plumage

Thrush nightingale

The Nightingale is a species of medium-sized brown thrush. It has wings and a tail that is black with orange bars, a white stripe below the eye, long dark legs, and a short thick bill.

The breast is grey or whitish in coloration, the flanks are brown or orange-brown while the belly is white to cream. Its most distinctive feature is its sprosser made up of six feathers that span from its rump to its forehead where they form a crest.


During the molting season, these birds will lay down on the ground to shed their old feathers and regrow new ones. This may take up to 12 hours depending on their age and size, so it is best for them to be under cover when they are molting.

When they have finished molting, they return to the nest or roost where they began preening their feathers until they are fully dry. They usually repeat this process about once a month in order to keep themselves looking good. They also use sprossers which help to clean out any dirt from their plumage that would have gotten caught during molting.

Nesting behavior

It builds its nest close to the ground in dense shrubs or bushes, from which it darts out, catches prey, and returns to cover with remarkable speed. This bird is one of the best sit-and-wait predators in the bird world.

Corn Bunting Bird (Emberiza calandra)

The nightingale thrush nests on the ground under hedges, where it will wait for a large insect to come by then dart after it and eat it. They have an extremely quick return time when they do this, often coming back before you can even see them leave.

Diet and foraging

In the spring and summer, a thrush nightingale bird mainly eats insects. Beetles, ants, and bugs are common choices of food. In the winter, however, a thrush nightingale bird’s diet includes much more vegetation than in the warmer months. Mice and small birds are sometimes hunted too. It mainly forages in undergrowth at ground level or on the ground itself looking for its prey.

Sounds and vocal behavior

Male and female thrush nightingales sing the same song, but different songs are sung in different seasons. They have a very high-pitched sound which often makes it difficult to find them when they are hidden amongst the foliage of trees. Males will sing more than females as they can defend their territory from other males, however, this is not always true for all species of thrush nightingales. In fact, some do not even have territories.

While they mostly only produce one kind of song, sometimes they may produce a completely different sounding song at certain times during the year which is called song-shift

Sometimes during mating season, male birds may also sing an entirely new type of courtship song to attract mates.


Thrush nightingale

The female thrush nightingale lays 3 to 6 eggs between May and June and then incubates the eggs for 13 to 14 days before hatching. Fledglings remain in the nest for 11 to 14 days, and they are fed by both parents.


The thrush nightingale bird has a lifespan of 5-10 years.

Movements and migration

The thrush nightingale bird is known for its ability to imitate other birds and other sounds in nature. Its migration patterns are primarily dictated by the availability of berries, but also by the general conditions of where it is living at the time.

Common Nightingale Bird (Luscinia megarhynchos)

In Eastern Europe, for example, this bird migrates northward in the summer and southward during winter to avoid harsh winters. It can be found year-round in more temperate regions such as southern Italy, however.

These birds are typically found singly or in pairs and often roost high up on trees near water sources. They feed mainly on insects and larvae during their breeding season but will switch to berries when they migrate or if they find themselves in a colder climate.

Diseases and threats

The Thrush Nightingale Bird is a European bird that is currently classified as a species of the least concern. However, recent declines in their population are causing biologists to worry about the future of this species.

The main threats to these birds are invasive plant species and habitat fragmentation. These invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed, will take over the land and make it unusable for these migratory birds.

Population status

The Thrush Nightingale Bird has a population status of vulnerable, meaning that there is a high risk of the species becoming endangered. This is due to declines in populations due to habitat degradation, change, and fragmentation as well as being hunted for food or trapped for traditional medicine.

Conservation and management

The Thrush Nightingale is the most common migrant in Europe, so any fluctuations are due to human influences. It has a large range and the populations seem stable over time. It is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List but will be continuously monitored to detect any changes in population numbers or distribution patterns.