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Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Luscinia
Forster, 1817
See text.

Luscinia is a genus of small passerine birds formerly classed as members of the thrush family, but now considered to be Old World flycatchers.

The species are:

  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica
    Siberian Rubythroat, Luscinia calliope
    Rufous-tailed Robin or Swinhoe's Nightingale, Luscinia sibilans
    Thrush Nightingale, Luscinia luscinia
    Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos
    Indian Bluechat, Luscinia brunneus
    White-tailed Rubythroat, Luscinia pectoralis
    Rufous-headed Robin, Luscinia ruficeps
    Black-throated Blue Robin, Luscinia obscura
    Firethroat, Luscinia pectardens
    Siberian Blue Robin, Luscinia cyane

Formerly, some or all of the Luscinia species have been placed in the genus Erithacus and vice versa. Recent research (Seki, 2006) suggests that the genus should be split, with most species being retained in Luscinia and a new genus uniting East Asian forms like the Siberian Blue Robin with the East Asian Erithacus species.

These are species of the temperate regions of Europe and Asia, including the Himalayas. All the birds in this genus are strongly migratory, wintering in tropical Africa, India or Southeast Asia.

The breeding habitat is typically scrub or forest, and the cup nest is usually constructed low in a bush. The birds can be difficult to see in dense undergrowth, especially if not singing, but they may frequent somewhat more open habitats in their winter quarters.

The Luscinia species are stocky small birds, 13-16 cm long with an upright stance and short frequently cocked tail. They are territorial birds which watch for insects, worms and other invertebrates from a low perch, and feed mostly on the ground, hopping on strong legs with frequent stops.

In the three species named as nightingales, the sexes are similar. These birds are plain brown above, whitish below with light streaking, and have a rufous tail.

In the other Luscinia species, the male is much brighter than the usually brown or grey female. Males of most of these species have a dark blue or black back, and red, orange or blue at least on the throat and upper breast. Several have white or rufous patches on the sides of the tail, giving a pattern recalling that of a wheatear or Red-breasted Flycatcher.

The songs of this genus are often complex and musical, especially in the nightingales.


  • Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim (1999): Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
  • Seki, Shin-Ichi (2006): The origin of the East Asian Erithacus robin, Erithacus komadori, inferred from cytochrome b sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(3): 899–905. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.028
  • Svensson, Lars; Zetterström, Dan; Mullarney, Killian & Grant, P. J. (1999): Collins bird guide. Harper & Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-219728-6

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