Eurasian Blackcap-Sylvia atricapilla


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Sylviidae
  • Genre: Sylvia
  • Species: Sylvia atricapilla

Identification characters

It is 15 cm in size. It is a bird with a melodious song. The body is grey-brown. The breast is black in the male,
and scarlet in the female.


The Eurasian Blackcap is a breeding species throughout most of Europe and western Asia, with the eastern limit of the species near the Mongolian border. It is a migratory species in the cold areas of central and northern Europe and sedentary in the western and southern parts of the European continent. The species is also present and also sedentary in northern Africa and a few nearby islands. Migratory specimens migrate to the Mediterranean Sea and to northern, western and eastern Africa. In Romania, the Black-headed Sylvia population ranges from 2 130 766 to 2 639 637 breeding pairs.

Living environment and biology of the species

While nesting, the black-headed godwit can be found in forest habitats, being characteristic of deciduous forests, but during this period it can also be found in localities, where there are orchards, parks or gardens rich in trees and bushes. In winter it is a species often associated with fruit-rich sites, including olive groves, gardens or palm plantations. Eurasian Blackcap is an omnivorous species, but feeds largely on insects. During the breeding season, its diet includes flies, caterpillars, mayflies, dragonflies, moths, beetles and spiders, all of which are mainly collected from leaves and branches or even caught in flight. When the young are large, towards autumn, they also start feeding on seeds and fruit. In winter it is a frequent visitor to human-made feeders, and there are even changes in the migration of some western European populations, brought about by the constant presence of this food source in the cold season.

The breeding season lasts from April to August, but varies across the range, with some areas having populations where a pair consistently produces two litters of young in a year. Early in the season, the male begins building several nests, of which the female chooses one in which to lay her young.

The chosen nest is completed by both partners from grass, twigs and roots and is cup-shaped. The inside is lined with hairs and grass hairs. The nest is usually placed in a bush or shrub, in small trees or in dense vegetation, fern bushes being preferred. The female lays a clutch of 2-7 dark-spotted grey-brown eggs, 19.7-14.7 mm in size. Incubation lasts between 10 and 16 days and is carried out by both partners. After hatching, the chicks are fed by the two adults and can fly from the nest after 10-15 days. They are not fully independent and need parental care for another 2-3 weeks.

Threats and conservation measures

Threats include habitat alteration, fragmentation and loss, poor forest management, pollution, and the need to ban new urban development, including scattered settlements in forest habitats important for breeding, feeding or resting, to match forestry work to the biology of the species to avoid disturbance during critical periods, to maintain undergrowth in logged forests, and to maintain and enhance corridors between areas of spontaneous grassland including trees. Scattered lines of trees and groups of non-productive trees, maintaining a mosaic of habitats with the presence of tree and shrub stands in open agricultural areas, reducing the use of insecticides and herbicides in agriculture and forestry. Where necessary and in the absence of alternatives, the use of substances with minimal toxicity and persistence should be justified and applied on the breeding grounds of the species only outside the breeding season An inventory of breeding, migration, feeding and aggregation areas important for the conservation of the species should be carried out. It is also useful to promote studies on the biology of the species.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres- Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests – Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 460.
    Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing, Bucharest, p. 86.
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