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L. s. svecica, Oppdal, Norway
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Luscinia
L. svecica
Binomial name
Luscinia svecica
Distribution of the bluethroat (orange: breeding range; blue: non-breeding range)
  • Motacilla svecica Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cyanecula svecica

The bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and similar small European species, are often called chats.

It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in wet birch wood or bushy swamp in Europe and across the Palearctic with a foothold in western Alaska. It nests in tussocks or low in dense bushes. It winters in the Iberian Peninsular, the northern half of Africa, and in southern Asia (among others including the Indian subcontinent).

The bluethroat bird is similar in size to the European robin at 13–14 cm. It is plain brown above except for the distinctive black tail with red side patches. It has a strong white supercilium. Despite the distinctive appearance of the males, recent genetic studies show only limited variation between the forms, and confirm that this is a single species.[2] Moults begins in July after breeding and are completed in 40–45 days, before the birds migrate.[3]

The male has a varied and very imitative song.[4] Its call is a typical chat chack noise.


Breeding distribution of the bluethroat subspecies

See the Wikispecies page.

Females of all subspecies usually have just a blackish crescent on an otherwise cream throat and breast. Newly fledged juveniles are freckled and spotted dark brown above.



The genus name Luscinia is Latin for the common nightingale. The specific epithet svecica is from Neo-Latin Suecicus meaning "Swedish". The colours of the male's breast were thought to evoke the Swedish flag, the yellow in the flag being more orange hued in the 17th and 18th centuries.[5]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Cyanecula svecica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  2. ^ Zink RM, RM; Drovetski SV; Questiau S; Fadeev IV; Nesterov EV; Westberg MC; Rohwer S. (2003). "Recent evolutionary history of the bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) across Eurasia" (PDF). Molecular Ecology. 12 (11): 3069–75. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.01981.x. PMID 14629386. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-04-04.
  3. ^ RSPB Handbook of British Birds (2014). UK ISBN 978-1-4729-0647-2.
  4. ^ Metzmacher M. (2008) Les Grillons, muses de la Gorgebleue à miroir blanc (Luscinia svecica cyanecula) ? Parcs & Réserves, 63 : 17-19.
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 233, 375. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

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