The Spotted Flycatcher is a long-winged, active, summer migrant which is found throughout Europe between May and October. Favorite habitats for this perky bird include suburban gardens, parkland and open woodlands.
Spotted Flycatchers are often seen darting out from cover in search of food, but when not sallying to and fro the Spotted Flycatcher will spend long periods of time on an exposed twig or branch, sitting quietly whilst pumping its tail before SNAP – a suitable meal passes by.
The Spotted Flycatcher is a sparrow-sized bird which, like all other species of flycatchers, has long wings, a squarish tail, short legs, big eyes and a broad-based bill. The plumage is somewhat drab, but the combination of grey, brown, and white streaks and characteristic behavioral traits means that the Spotted Flycatcher can be readily identified.
The adult Spotted Flycatcher’s face shows an indistinct white supercilium, with greyish cheeks and a white mustache. The throat is off-white, with thin dark streaks which extend onto the breast. The rest of the underparts are white. The bill, eye and legs are black. The call is a thin ‘tzee’ and the, frankly, poor song is made up of several wheezy notes.
The crown is pale grey with dark streaks, merging into the greyish-brown nape, mantle and rump. The tail is dark, with white outer tail feathers. The wings show pale edgings to all the main feather tracts. The tertials, secondaries and primaries are all dark brown.
In flight, Spotted Flycatchers are very agile and acrobatic as they catch assorted flying insects, including bees, butterflies and greenfly. They often twist and turn, close to the ground, before returning to the same perch.
After a moult in the late summer, the firstwinter Spotted Flycatcher basically resembles an adult bird, except for browner upperparts, broader edges to the wing and a prominent bar on the greater coverts. The underparts are much as those of the adult, as are the bare parts.
Juvenile Spotted Flycatchers have a heavily scalloped head, mantle and breast, contrasting with the broadly fringed greybrown wings and dark tail. The underparts are white. The bare parts are as the adult’s.