This understated warbler is grey-brown with its distinctive black or red-brown cap (crown and forehead), and a little smaller than a house sparrow. The male has grey-brown upper parts, pale grey underparts and a grey face and throat, and a glossy black cap. The female is similar but has browner upperparts, buff underparts, and a red-brown cap. Both sexes have dark colour bills and grey-brown legs. Juveniles also have a red-brown cap.
Average Length: 13 cm
Average Lifespan: 2-5 Years
Average Wingspan: 20-23cm
During the breeding season, blackcaps take mostly insects from leaves and foliage to feed their young. However, in wintertime, they are particularly partial to fruits and berries, especially mistletoe berries.
How to feed: Bird tables and suet feeders
What to feed: They will sometimes visit bird tables in the winter, and they may feed from suet bars, especially those impregnated with dried flies.
As they are primarily migrants to the UK, the breeding birds normally arrive in early springtime to find a nesting site. The nest is a neat cup built by the female from vegetation including grass, stems and mud, and is usually in a hedge, bush, or brambles. Blackcaps will occasionally use shelves in huts and other outbuildings on which to build their nests. They will lay 1-2 broods between late April and mid-June. Females normally lay around 4-5 eggs, which will be incubated by both sexes for around 2 weeks. Blackcap chicks fledge quite quickly after hatching, with only 11-12 days before they are ready to flap their wings.
Blackcaps are listed as green under the birds of conservation concern and as least concern on the red list. No conservation actions are currently recommended for this species as populations are significantly increasing. Threats to them would likely be the same as many other species however, with factors such as climate change and habitat loss.
Fill your bird tables with lots of fruits and berries if you want to attract blackcaps and place them near to hedges.
Keep a constant supply of fresh, clean water available year-round.
Planting large amounts of hedges, shrubs and trees will provide a great habitat for blackcaps.
Did you know that blackcaps arefantastic at spotting cuckoo eggs in their nests? Blackcaps reject cuckoo eggsat a rate of ~90% even though they are very infrequently parasitised. Instudies they also mobbed cuckoo dummies when presented with them, showing veryaggressive behaviours that would suggest they evolved these behaviours inresponse to being highly parasitised in the past.
BirdLife International (2022) Speciesfactsheet: Sylvia atricapilla. Downloaded fromhttp://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2022.
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