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Overview

Brief Summary

Only male blackcaps live up to their name, with their black caps. Females have brown caps. They are an extremely numerous breeding bird in the Netherlands. They make their nests mostly in deciduous forests, but are also found in large gardens and parks. They will even nest in the dunes if the trees are tall enough. In the winter, they migrate to the south, although the group that stays in the Netherlands is growing. It saves energy and they profit from the proliferous bird feeding tables. In addition, they are the first ones around to find the best nesting areas.
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Comprehensive Description

Longueur 13 cm, envergure 20-23 cm, poids moyen 18 g.

Cette fauvette est largement répandue de la plaine à la montagne, elle figure parmi les dix espèces d’oiseaux les plus contactées par le programme STOC (Suivi Temporel des Oiseaux Communs). Considérée comme abondante et généraliste en France, on la trouve dans les forêts alluviales, les forêts de feuillus ou mixtes avec sous-étage, les milieux buissonnants ainsi que les parcs et jardins.

La Fauvette à tête noire se nourrit d’insectes et d’invertébrés qui constituent l’essentiel de son alimentation en période de nidification. Durant le reste de l’année elle est en grande partie frugivore.

Migratrices partielles, nos Fauvettes à tête noire peuvent selon la latitude et la rigueur de l’hiver hiverner sur place ou au contraire gagner l’Afrique du Nord ou au moins le bassin méditerranéen. Le midi de la France constitue une zone importante d’hivernage pour des populations issues des pays voisins comme l’Allemagne, mais une tendance à se diriger vers des quartiers d’hivernage plus proches situés en Europe de l’ouest a été aussi mise en évidence. La migration d’automne est sensible en septembre- octobre notamment, celle de printemps a lieu surtout en mars. Le chant du mâle, particulièrement mélodieux et se terminant par un motif en « forte », a fait l’objet de plusieurs études scientifiques relatives notamment aux dialectes.

Le nid est édifié en général à faible hauteur (< 2 m) dans la végétation. Le mâle participe à la construction du nid. La ponte comprend 4 à 6 œufs, couvés par les deux parents. Les oisillons éclosent au bout de 11 à 12 jours, et sont nourris par les deux parents. Ils prennent leur envol au bout de douze jours environ, l’élevage des jeunes pouvant se prolonger à l’extérieur du nid durant encore deux semaines voire plus.
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Distribution

The Blackcap is a common and familiar bird over large parts of central and southern Europe. It is mainly migratory in the northern and eastern part of its breeding range. Increasingly in recent decades, however, it may be a short-distance migrant or resident in the west and south (Mullarney et al. 2000; Ehrlich et al. 2000).

Some Blackcaps now overwinter even in central and northern Europe, especially in urban and suburban areas (Aymi and Gargallo 2006). Fifty years ago, the Blackcap was considered a summer visitor to northern Europe and the British Isles. However, an increasing number of birds began overwintering in Britain and Ireland, in numbers growing from a few individuals in the early 1960s to the point where a recent survey of birdwatchers found that 31% of their gardens had Blackcaps visiting bird tables from October 2003 to March 2004. Work in the early 1990s showed that the birds overwintering in Britain and Ireland actually bred in south central Europe and that this newly evolved migratory behavior was associated with genetic differences. The main wintering areas associated with Blackcaps breeding in south central Europe (and therefore the ancestral wintering areas for the British and Irish birds) are southern Iberia and North Africa. The new wintering area is disjunct from the original, and birds wintering in Britain and Ireland display a completely different migratory orientation (Bearhop et al. 2005 and references therein). It has been suggested that the rapid evolution of distinct migratory pathways and wintering habits has been made possible by allochronic (i.e., differently timed) spring arrival of migrants from their respective wintering quarters resulting in assortative mating. In this scenario, individuals tend to mate with other individuals from the same wintering areas, which would facilitate independent evolutionary trajectories. Although differently timed spring arrival and the resulting non-random mating are likely important factors in the evolution of the new migration pattern, Rolshausen et al. (2010) concluded that differences in spring arrival dates are not sufficient to explain the observed degree of assortative mating.

Many Blackcaps from the eastern portion of their breeding range winter in sub-Saharan East Africa (Aymi and Gargallo 2006).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Mullarney et al. 2000: Small sylviid warbler (length 13.5-15 cm), stocky build, dirty gray above and light olive gray below. Male with small black cap (reaching only to upper part of eye; female and juvenile have red-brown cap). Bill and legs gray.

A partially melanistic morph (i.e., a form with increased dark pigmentation) occurs on Atlantic islands and rarely in continental Europe (Aymi and Gargallo 2006).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Depth range based on 2 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 9.885 - 10.083
  Nitrate (umol/L): 2.010 - 2.813
  Salinity (PPS): 34.758 - 34.950
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.360 - 6.373
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.355 - 0.371
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.624 - 1.816

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 9.885 - 10.083

Nitrate (umol/L): 2.010 - 2.813

Salinity (PPS): 34.758 - 34.950

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.360 - 6.373

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.355 - 0.371

Silicate (umol/l): 1.624 - 1.816
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Breeds in shady woodlands with dense understory and in parks and gardens with significant undergrowth. Nests low in bushes (Mullarney et al. 2000). In winter, tends to occur more in bushy areas rich in berries and other fruits. Found from sea level to treeline (Aymi and Gargallo 2006).

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / feeds on
adult of Sylvia atricapilla feeds on berry of Viscum album

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Ortega-Olivencia et al. (2005) identified the first known example of a native European plant that is pollinated primarily by birds. They found that the legume Anagyris foetida, a rare shrubby component of the Mediterranean scrub of the eastern and southern Iberian Peninsula, is pollinated mainly by three sylviid warblers: Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), and Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). These birds visit the flowers seeking nectar. Although their usual diet at other times of the year consists mainly of insects and spiders, fruit is often an important part of the Blackcap's diet in fall and winter (Ehrlich et al. 1994), and nectar can be important as well. The authors note that Anagyris foetida flowers during the autumn and winter, a period characterized by cold, high winds, almost daily mists that persist until nightfall, and abundant rainfall. These conditions are unfavorable to most insects that could serve as pollinators for Anagyris or as food for Blackcaps, a situation predisposing these two species to evolve a mutually beneficial relationship.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

The male (and sometimes female) Blackcap sings from cover below the canopy (Ehrlich et al. 1994).

Bearhop et al. (2005) reported that birds from recently evolved allopatric (i.e., geographically non-overlapping) wintering populations of Blackcaps tend to mate assortatively on their shared breeding grounds (i.e., birds from one wintering area are more likely to mate with birds from the same wintering area).

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 11.6 years (wild)
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Sister Taxon

The Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) is the Blackcap's closest extant relative (Aymi and Gargallo 2006).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Sylvia atricapilla

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 14 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGACTTTTCTCTACCAACCATAAAGACATCGGTACCCTATACCTAATTTTCGGCGCATGAGCTGGAATAGTGGGTACCGCCCTA---AGCCTCCTTATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCTGGCGCCCTACTAGGGGAT---GACCAGATTTACAACGTAATTGTCACGGCCCATGCTTTTGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTAATACCAATCATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATA---ATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGAATAAACAATATAAGCTTCTGACTACTACCCCCATCATTCCTCCTACTTCTAGCCTCCTCCACAGTAGAAGCCGGAGCAGGAACAGGATGAACCGTATACCCACCCCTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCCCATGCTGGAGCCTCAGTTGACCTG---GCTATCTTCTCTCTCCACCTAGCAGGTATTTCATCTATCCTCGGAGCTATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATTAACATAAAACCACCTGCCCTAACACAATACCAAACCCCTTTATTCGTATGATCTGTCCTAATCACTGCAGTTCTACTCCTCCTATCCCTCCCAGTCCTGGCTGCT---GGTATTACAATGCTACTTACTGACCGCAACCTCAACACCACTTTCTTCGACCCAGCAGGAGGAGGCGACCCAGTACTATACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACACCCAGAAGTATATATCCTTATCCTACCAGGATTCGGAATCATCTCCCACGTTGTAGCATACTACGCAGGAAAAAAA---GAACCATTCGGCTACATAGGCATAGTATGAGCTATACTCTCTATCGGATTCCTAGGATTTATTGTATGAGCCCACCACATATTTACAGTAGGAATAGACGTAGACACCCGAGCATACTTTACATCCGCCACAATAATTATTGCCATCCCCACTGGTATCAAGGTATTCAGCTGATTA---GCAACC
-- end --

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sylvia atricapilla

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 14
Specimens with Barcodes: 20
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Status in Egypt

Regular passage visitor and winter visitor?

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The Blackcap is common to very common over most of its range. In Europe (which accounts for ~75% of its breeding range) it is one of the most abundant birds. The total world population is probably close to 70 million pairs (Aymi and Gargallo 2006).

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Population

Population
Shirihai et al. (2001) estimated the population to exceed 10 million individuals, but in Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 25-49 million breeding pairs, equating to 75-147 million individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 75-94% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 79.8-196 million individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Population Trend
Increasing
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