© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.
- Family: Flycatchers – Muscicapidae
- Appearance: Robin-sized, with longish legs and a relatively short tail. Prominent eye-stripe extends from beak almost to nape. Tail has a black tip and rusty coloured edges near base. Males have conspicuous blue, red and black markings on the breast and throat; females are more modest in appearance.
- Size: Length 13–14 cm, weight 15–21 g.
- Nest: On the ground well concealed in vegetation, mainly made of grass, leaves, moss and lichen, lined with thin grass. Nest has a deep bowl shape.
- Breeding: 4–8 eggs laid May–June, incubated by female for 12–15 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 12–13 days, and learn to fly within 14–16 days.
- Distribution: Breeds only in the far north, in mountain birch stands and marshy areas near open fells. Sometimes known as the “Nightingale of the North”. Has declined in numbers. Finnish breeding population estimated at 30,000–80,000 pairs.
- Migration: Nocturnal. Leaves Finland in August–September, returning in May. Winters in NE Africa and Southern Asia.
- Diet: Invertebrates, berries, seeds.
- Calls: A harsh rattling “drak drak”, sometimes compared to the sound of a rope on a flagpole. Song beautiful and highly complex.
Adult Bluethroats’ distinguishing features include a bright yellowish white eye-stripe, rust-coloured markings on their black-tipped tails, and relatively long legs. In their summer plumage males have bright blue, rusty red and black markings on their breasts and throats. In autumn this colouring becomes less distinct. Females generally lack any blue and red markings, and instead have creamy white throat patches edged with black speckles on their neck and chest. Bluethroats have relatively long light brown legs, black beaks and dark brown irises.
The Bluethroats that breed in Finnish Lapland are of the nominate race (L. s. svecica). Birds of the more southerly race (L. s. cyanecula), occasionally seen in Southern Finland, have a silky white patch in the middle of their blue breasts, instead of red markings. Females of the two races cannot be distinguished in the field.