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Blackcap

Sylvia atricapilla

Caipín dubh

Status: Scarce summer visitor to woodlands in the midlands and northern Ireland from April to September. Also a scarce passage migrant mainly in spring and autumn to headlands on southern and western coasts.  Although Irish-breeding Blackcaps still migrate southwards in the autumn, some Blackcaps from the population that breeds in Central Europe migrate to Ireland to spend the winter.

Conservation Concern
: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is considered to be Secure.

Identification: About the same size as a Robin. Adult male Blackcaps have a distinct black cap, covering most of the head. The rest of the body is a rather grey-colour, while the vent is white. Adult female Blackcaps have pale brown cap, similar in extent to that of the male. The rest of the body is grey-brown, not as dark as the male.

Similar Species: Other Warblers.

Call: A hard "teck", frequently given in a long series. Also infrequently gives a "yu-teck" call. The song is one of the most beautiful songs of all Irish songbirds. It is a rich, melodic series of notes ending in an ecstatic series of flute-like notes.

Diet: Feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates during the summer. In winter, takes berries (Ivy, Rowan), as well as scraps from bird tables. Will use peanut feeders.

Breeding
: Widespread in lowlands throughout Ireland. Breeds in dense decidous woodlands and in mature hedgerows.

Wintering: The majority of the Irish population migrate south to winter in Iberia and North Africa. There is a small wintering population, mainly in the east and south of Ireland. Recoveries of ringed Blackcaps have shown that the majority of these wintering birds originate from Central Europe.

Where to See: Common and widespread in Ireland. In winter, Blackcaps are attracted to apples and fat balls in gardens.

Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey and Garden Bird Survey.

 

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