Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Bluethroat (Cyanecula svecica)


French: Gorgebleue à miroir German: Blaukehlchen Spanish: Ruiseñor pechiazul

Motacilla svecica


, 1758,

Sweden and Lappland


Sometimes placed in Erithacus. Geographical variation marked, but considerable intergradation of races; phylogenetic analysis reveals considerable genetic variation, with S all-blue and white-spotted forms ancestral to N red-spotted races#R. Proposed race tianshanica (Pamir, Tien Shan) included in pallidogularis, and saturatior sometimes included too; race pallidogularis misspelt in HBW. Race luristanica listed as magna in HBW, but this name is permanently invalid#R. Eleven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. svecica (Linnaeus, 1758) – Red-spotted Bluethroat – Scandinavia, N, C & E Russia, NE China and NW North America (Alaska, rarely extreme NW Canada#R); non-breeding S Europe, and N & N tropical Africa, Arabia and S & E Asia.
  • C. s. volgae (O. Kleinschmidt, 1907) – NE Ukraine and C & E European Russia; non-breeding NE Africa and SW Asia.
  • C. s. pallidogularis Zarudny, 1897 – plains of Kazakhstan and Transcaspia E to Tien Shan and Pamirs; non-breeding SW Asia and N India.
  • C. s. saturatior Sushkin, 1925 – C Asian mountains (Sayan, Altai, Tien Shan, Pamir); non-breeding S Asia.
  • C. s. abbotti Richmond, 1896 – C & NE Afghanistan and NW Himalayas from NW Pakistan E to NW Himachal; non-breeding N India.
  • C. s. kobdensis (Tugarinov, 1929) – SE Siberia in S Altai, W Mongolia and NW China (Xinjiang) E to Tarim Basin; non-breeding S & SE Asia.
  • C. s. przevalskii (Tugarinov, 1929) – C China (C & E Qinghai to Nan Shan and E to Ala Shan and Ordos Plateau); non-breeding E China.
  • C. s. namnetum (Mayaud, 1934) – W France; non-breeding SW Portugal and Morocco.
  • C. s. cyanecula (Meisner, 1804) – White-spotted Bluethroat – Netherlands and N & E France E to Belarus and NW Ukraine; non-breeding SW & S Europe and N Africa.
  • C. s. azuricollis (Rafinesque, 1814) – Iberian Bluethroat – NC & NW Iberian Peninsula; non-breeding unknown, but probably W Africa S of Sahara#R.
  • C. s. luristanica Ripley, 1952 – Caucasian Bluethroat – E Turkey, Caucasus area and NW Iran; non-breeding Arabia and NE Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 12–25 g. Male nominate race is grey-brown from crown to rump, blackish tail with rust-red outer bases; strong whitish supercilium bordered dark; bright... read more


    Song, by both sexes (chiefly male, female gives partial song), from bushtop, low tree or in short... read more


    Main requirement when breeding appears to be copious low dense vegetation (1–2 m high) with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily invertebrates, chiefly insects, with some seeds and fruit in autumn. Insects include adult and larval beetles of many families,... read more


    Late Apr to Jul in C Europe, from late May in Scandinavia; early Apr to Jun in Armenia; Jun–Jul in Ladakh; May–Jul in China;... read more


    Migrant. Timing of autumn migration correlated significantly with timing of breeding, suggesting... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). European population in mid-1990s estimated at 545,126–1,376,505 pairs (great majority in Norway, then Sweden and Finland), with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Bluethroat (Cyanecula svecica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).