Pied flycatcher

Latin name: Ficedula hypoleuca pied flycatcher

Length: 13cm

Where: Mostly oak woodland; Inversnaid Nature Reserve; Ross Wood

When: April to July

The dapper little pied flycatcher is a relative newcomer to the National Park, only beginning to breed here in the 1960s. Its name gives a perfect description – a striking black and white bird that darts from its perch to snatch flying insects. Like many birds it’s only the male that has the smart suit. The females prefer to dress down in shades of brown and grey to make themselves less visible while they are sitting on the nest.

Pied flycatchers come here to breed in spring, flying thousands of miles from their winter quarters south of the Sahara in West Africa. Their favourite summer haunts are our cool, leafy sessile oakwoods, where they nest in old, hollow trees. These nest sites have become harder to come by over the last century, but a nest box scheme in the Park has helped increase their numbers. To have the best chance of spotting one you need to be quick – by July most of the birds leave their breeding territories to start their journey back to Africa once more.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods