Spotted flycatcher

David Chapman

The spotted flycatcher may not be the most colourful bird that breeds in Britain but its behaviour makes it one of the most charismatic and endearing of garden visitors.

The family name of the flycatchers, of which we have two species in Britain, came about because of their obvious pursuit of flying insects. 

The spotted flycatcher has a collection of favourite perches within its territory, these are usually obvious places such as fence posts, exposed branches or, in the case of this photograph, the edge of a bird bath.  From their chosen position the flycatcher will make an aerial sortie to catch an insect before returning to exactly the same perch.  Their mastery of flight is astonishing, combining both speed and dexterity in deadly combination. 

Spotted flycatchers will nest in woodland but they often inhabit gardens, particularly where there are mature trees.  They live in Britain only for the summer, flying to Africa for the winter, and will return to the same territories. 

Their numbers have declined dramatically in the recent past but thankfully they can be encouraged to nest in purpose built boxes.  If you think you might have a pair nearby then make, or buy, an open fronted nest box - the same as that for a robin - and erect it in a secluded spot, preferably in a climber on a wall, but not if you have cats.

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