Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos


Justification of Red List Category
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 stable, 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.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 10,700,000-20,300,000 pairs, which equates to 21,500,000-40,500,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.50% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 43,000,000-81,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the overall trend from 1980-2013 was a moderate decline (EBCC 2015). However from 2000-2012 the European population was estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).


This species occupies two main habitat types in Europe: lowland open woodland with thickets and dense patches of vegetation of coppice stands, nettles and brambles, bordering waterbodies; and the edges and glades of broadleaf woodland, undergrowth-rich pinewoods and dry maquis, garrigue and shrubbery on sand and chalk (i.e. with no surface water). It is also found in various mixtures of the two, such as cultivated land with mature hedgerows and untended bush-rich suburban gardens and parks with leaf litter. In Russia it breeds in dense riverbank cover, in open hornbeam (Carpinus) woodland, in oak (Quercus) and beech (Fagus) forest, alder (Alnus), sea buckthorn (Hippophae) and hawthorn (Crataegus) thickets, and orchards. Farther south it occupies scrubby woodland, undergrowth-free orchards, edges of wadis, thickets, bramble and nettles. In Morocco it breeds mainly along streams in woodland, in low thickets (especially bramble) along rivers, coastal maquis, undergrowth of cork oak forest, holm oak coppice, brushwoods (Tetraclinis, Olea, Pistacia) and orchards, in plains and on lower slopes up to 1,300 m, occasionally in cultivated valleys to 1850 m. In Afghanistan it is found up to 2,300 m in shady tangles, thickets and scrub, usually near water as well as in orchards and gardens. In the African non-breeding grounds it uses dense forest edge and secondary growth, riverine and woodland thickets, savanna scrub, farmbush, thorny scrub, rank herbage along watercourses, overgrown clearings, tall grass patches, field margins and garden hedges. It breeds from late April to mid July in Europe, May-July in Afghanistan, mid-April to June in Morocco and May in Algeria. The nest is an occasionally domed bulky cup of dead leaves and grass, lined with fine grasses, feathers and hair. It is sited on or very close to the ground (most are below 0.5 m) in the base of a thicket or in low herbage. Clutches are four to five eggs. It feeds principally on invertebrates but takes berries and seeds in the late summer and autumn (Collar and Christie 2015). The species is migratory, wintering in the Afrotropics (Snow and Perrins 1998). The nominate race winters from Senegal east to western Ethiopia and Uganda. Birds from the africana and hafizi races winter in central Ethiopia and East Africa (Collar and Christie 2015).


Declines in the west of its range have been driven since the 1950s by modern agricultural development and an increasing tendency for 'tidying' of gardens and woodland. Nesting habitat along streams and rivers is being lost in Spain (Collar and Christie 2015). The species is also sensitive to climatic variations (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). In the U.K., it is thought that habitat modification as a result of grazing by deer may be a threat to this species (Newson et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
In the U.K., deer management plans, including the integrated exclusion and culling of deer, should be coordinated on a large scale and target areas of importance for the species. Further research on the relationship between deer abundance and habitat quality should also be undertaken (Newson et al. 2011). The species would also likely benefit from the maintenance of low-intensity farming practices and areas of woodland and thickets.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Dowsett, R.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Luscinia megarhynchos. Downloaded from on 17/04/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 17/04/2021.