Sylvia atricapilla (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 332 (1766) ; Hewitson, i. p. 126, pl. xxxiv. figs. 1, 2 ; Naumann, ii. p. 492, Taf. 77, figs. 2, 3, Taf. 368, figs. 1, 2 ; (Gould), B. of E. ii. pl. 120 ; (id.) B. of Gt. Brit. ii. pl. 60 ; Newton, i. p. 418 ; Dresser, ii. 421, pl. 66 ; Saunders, p. 47 ; Lilford, iii. p. 56, pl. 28 ; Seebohm, Cat. B. Br. Mus. v. p. 23.
Fauvette a tete noire,, French ; Tutinegra real, Portug. ; Pulverilla, Span. ; Capinera, Ital. ; Monch, German ; Zwartkop, Dutch ; Munkefugl Dan. ; Sorthoette, Norweg. ; Svarthufvade-sangare, Swed. ; Mustapaakerttu, Finn. ; Tschernogolovka, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Crown glossy black ; upper parts generally ashy brown washed with bluish on the nape and rump ; wings dark brown, externally margined with brownish ash ; tail uniform ashy brown ; under parts ashy grey, the chin, abdomen, under tail-coverts and under wing- coverts white ; bill dark horn ; legs plumbeous ; iris brown. Culmen 0.45, wing 2.95, tail 2.45, tarsus 0.85 inch. The female has the crown rusty red, the upper parts browner without any trace of ashy blue, and the under parts ashy brown, where in the male they are ashy grey. In the winter the upper and under parts are tinged with buffy brown.
Hab. Europe, from North Africa to about 66° N. Lat., in Scandinavia, and from the Azores and Canaries to the Ural range and Persia, wintering in Africa as far south as Senegal, Nubia, and Abyssinia. It has once been recorded from Siberia ; Great Britain north to Ross-shire, rarer in Ireland.
Frequents woods, groves, and gardens, avoiding open places, and creeps about amongst the foliage being far less at home there than on the ground. Its call note resembles the syllables tack, tack, and its alarm note is a low harsh sharr. Its song is rich and sweet, not much below that of the Nightingale in melody, and is generally uttered from some elevated perch. It feeds chiefly on insects, but also on fruit and berries. The nest is placed in a bush or low tree, and is loosely constructed of grass, straws, and rootlets, and lined with fine bents and horse¬hair. The eggs are subject to considerable variation, but there are generally two forms, the one resembling the eggs of the Garden Warbler, and the other having the ground colour and clouding pinkish, and the markings reddish-brown. In size they average about 0.73 by 0.57. Sylvia heinekeni from Madeira is merely a melanism of this species.
122. Sylvia atricapilla