The Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa grisola or atricapilla), Fig. 46, belongs to the family Muscicapidae (Flycatcher kind) and sub-family Muscicapinae, arrives in England during May, rarely in April, and is fairly common in England and some parts of Ireland, but not so frequently seen in Scotland. It frequents gardens, orchards, plantations and woods, and the banks of streams, where it may be seen either taking a short flight in search of insects, or perched on a rail, gate, bridge, or branch, making frequent swoops at passing flies, and returning to its vantage place. At times it half jumps, half flutters, from its perch, and seizes flies, gnats and other insects within easy reach, taking most kinds, including aphides, beetles, butterflies, moths, and sawflies.

The Spotted Flycatcher is about 5 in. in length, chestnut-brown on the head and back, wings and tail darker brown, breast and under-parts greyish-white to greyish-brown, and the bill and legs are dark brown in colour. The female is slightly smaller than the male. The nest is made in a hole in a tree or wall, or in the fork of a tree, on beams in outhouses, in fruit trees nailed to walls, or ledges of rock, and on stumps of trees. It is constructed of stems of grass, horsehair, moss, lichens, feathers and wool. The eggs, usually five in number, are pale green or bluish-white, mottled with rust-coloured streaks. The parent birds feed the young almost incessantly with insects, sometimes bringing only one, and at other times two, three, four, five, or even more flies of different sizes at a visit, and have been known to bring food to the nestlings 537 times during the course of a day. The Spotted Flycatcher departs from the British shores about the middle of September.

The Spotted Flycatcher.

Fig. 46. - The Spotted Flycatcher.