Common nightingale

If you’re interested in finding out more about the exciting species of nightingales, it’s best to focus on the common nightingale, the species of the most extended and known family in the world.

What is known about this species?

It belongs to the muscicapidae family, although it was formerly classified as a member of the turdidae family. It is known by the scientific name of luscinia megarhynchos, or by the name of common nightingale.

luscinia megarhynchos

It is a migratory bird that lives in the forests of Europe and Asia, with a southern distribution, more than that of its companion the Russian nightingale. During the winter months it moves to southern Africa, returning to Europe in the spring months for breeding.

What does it look like?

It measures about 15 – 16 cm, a size very similar to robin, and weighs about 25 grams. At first glance there is not much difference between the male and the female, but the male has a strong chirp, with a register of whistles, bubbles and other well-distinguished sounds that help to differentiate it from the female.

It has a thin beak and a long tail. The coat and wings have a uniform ochre-brown colour, except in the tail area, which has a distinctive brownish red colour tone. The lower parts are lighter, with a creamy white colour. It is quite hidden and rarely leaves the protection of the thick vegetation but is easy to detect by its song, sound and emits throughout the day.


The young have a much lighter plumage before proceeding to the first molt of their feathers. Adults can sometimes be mistaken for Nightingales bastador and Common Reed Warblers, but this one has a darker colour than these two species.

Three subspecies have been recognized:

  • Luscinia megarhynchos megarthynchos: It is the nominal species, which was discovered in 1831.
  • Luscinia megarhynchos africana: Which extends over the African continent and was discovered in 1884.
  • Luscinia megarhynchos hafizi: It is the most widespread in Asia and was discovered in 1873.

The only difference between the subspecies of the common nightingale is in its size and that the shade of the plumage may be a little lighter.

What can we tell you about this bird?

The truth is that the nightingale has had a lot to do with popular culture, being recognized for its beauty over other birds, to the extent that some human singers are called “nightingales” in admiration of this bird. In 1611, with the publication of the first Spanish dictionary, a definition of the bird was created that praised the virtues of this bird, but without being able to describe it; “Avecita that with its song cheers and rejoices us in Spring, said in Latin Luscinia because it sings at dawn…”.

Since it is a migratory bird, the arrival of the nightingale in its place of origin is considered an announcement of the arrival of spring, because its song appears in the month of May, so that its presence during this season of the year is represented by beauty, rebirth, youth, love… In addition, many are the writers who have dedicated odes and poems to this species.

As far as their life is concerned, the nightingale is a species that feeds especially on invertebrate insects, living near the banks of rivers or lakes to be able to eat some water insect. Their nests are usually well hidden and during the breeding season, after being able to raise up to 6 euros after mating, it is the female that incubates the eggs. It takes two to three weeks for the chicks to leave the nest.

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