Red-breasted flycatcher -- 红喉姬鹟 (Ficedula parva)

Red-breasted flycatcher male vocalising
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Red-breasted flycatcher fact file

Red-breasted flycatcher description

GenusFicedula (1)

The red-breasted flycatcher is, at first glance, similar to a European robin in appearance; however, these species are not related. The scientific name of this species, Ficedula parva, is Latin for ‘small fig-eating bird’, parva meaning little (3). Both male and female red-breasted flycatchers have olive-brown upperparts, white underparts, white rings around the eyes, and a wide, black, pointed bill, characteristic of flying insectivores (2) (4). A good identification feature is the white patches on either side of the base of the tail which are very conspicuous when birds cock and spread their tails (2). Males have a greyish head and sides to the neck and a bright orangey-red bib on the throat, which females and juveniles lack (4). The song produced by the red-breasted flycatcher is a quiet, high-pitched series of descending notes tsit-tsip-tsee-tswii with the final note prolonged, or an even-pitched twittering sitta-sitta, siya siya (5).

F. p. albicilla and F. p. subruba were formerly considered subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, but most scientists now consider each of these to be a full species: F. albicilla (taiga flycatcher) and F. subruba (Kashmir flycatcher) (2).           

Length: 11 - 12 cm (2)
Wingspan: 18.5 - 21 cm (2)
10 g (3)

Red-breasted flycatcher biology

The red-breasted flycatcher spends the majority of its time off the ground in trees, and feeds primarily on insects, only occasionally feeding on fruit. The insects on which it feeds are either captured during flight or picked off foliage (6).

During the breeding season, red-breasted flycatchers are both territorial and monogamous. The female is largely responsible for constructing the nest, a fairly standard ‘open cup’ nest made from mosses, grasses and leaves and lined with finer materials, usually assembled around three to ten feet off the ground (7), usually in hole in a tree or wall, but occasionally in a  shrub (2).

The red-breasted flycatcher usually lays a clutch of between four and seven eggs each season. The eggs are whitish or blue-green and very finely covered with reddish-brown speckles, although these makings can be faint and poorly defined. For a period of 12 to 15 days the female incubates the eggs alone, whilst being fed by the male, after which all the eggs hatch simultaneously (8). The offspring hatch with very little, if any, down and fledge after around 11 to 15 days (2), with both parents feeding the young during this period. The red-breasted flycatcher will usually have just one brood a year, and from season to season will return to the same nesting site (2) (7). Red-breasted flycatchers first breed at around one year old (7).


Red-breasted flycatcher range

The red-breasted flycatcher breeds in north-western, central and eastern Europe eastwards to south-west Siberia, Turkey, the Caucasus and northern Iran. It winters mainly in Pakistan and north, west and central India, and irregularly in the southern Caspian region, Afghanistan, Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula. It is a regular autumn migrant in small numbers to western Europe and very occasionally north-east Africa (5).


Red-breasted flycatcher habitat

Mixed forest and open woodland is the preferred habitat of the red-breasted flycatcher (3) (4). It favours damp conditions and often breeds at high altitudes, between 800 and 3,000 metres (5).


Red-breasted flycatcher status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Red-breasted flycatcher threats

The main threat to the red-breasted flycatcher is deforestation and intensive forestry management, causing either the loss or disruption of this bird’s nesting sites (5). However, the threat against this species is currently not of huge concern and so it is not considered to be at risk of extinction (1).


Red-breasted flycatcher conservation

There are no known conservation measures in place for this species, as it is not currently threatened with extinction and is globally common. However, the red-breasted flycatcher may face future problems due to its preference for old forests for nesting, and thus attention should be paid to woodland conservation in order to preserve this species’ breeding habitat (5).

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Authenticated (01/09/10) by Geoff Welch, Chairman of OSME Council,

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Keeps eggs warm so that development is possible.
Animals that feed primarily on insects.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
Describes an animal, a pair of animals or a colony that occupies and defends an area.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Welch, G. (2010) Pers. comm.
  3. Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: Profiles of Birds Occurring in Britain and Ireland. BTO Research Report 407, BTO, Thetford.
  4. Bird Guides (November, 2009)
  5. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2006) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers.Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  6. Dempsey, E. and O’Clery, M. (2002) The Complete Guide to Ireland’s Birds. Gill and Macmillan Ltd, Dublin.
  7. Harrison, C. (1975) A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of European Birds. William Collins Sons and Co Ltd, London.
  8. Elphick, C., Dunning Jr, J.B. and Sibley, D. (2001) The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behaviour. Christopher Helm, London.

Image credit

Red-breasted flycatcher male vocalising  
Red-breasted flycatcher male vocalising

© Manjeet & Yograj Jadeja

Manjeet & Yograj Jadeja


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