Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)


French: Rossignol philomèle German: Nachtigall Spanish: Ruiseñor común

Luscinia megarhynchos

C. L. Brehm

, 1831,



Hybridization with L. luscinia rare. Easternmost race previously referred to using the name hafizi, but golzii shown to have priority#R. Geographical variation partially clinal, from darker, shorter-winged and shorter-tailed in W to paler, longer-winged and longer-tailed in E, despite which it has been suggested that golzii might be a candidate for species status#R. Additional races have been suggested, but generally considered untenable; corsa, luscinioides, caligiformes, tauridae and baehrmanni all synonymized with nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. m. megarhynchos C. L. Brehm, 1831 – NW Africa, W & C Europe E to C Turkey and Levant; non-breeding Africa.
  • L. m. africana (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – Caucasus area and E Turkey E to N & SW Iran; non-breeding NE & E Africa.
  • L. m. golzii Cabanis, 1873 – E Iran E to Kazakhstan, SW Mongolia, NW China (N Xinjiang) and Afghanistan; non-breeding E Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–17 cm; 16–39 g. Nominate race is plain warm brown above, shading to rusty-brown tail and rump, whitish below, with slightly sandy-buff breast and flanks; large... read more


    Sings extensively at night (to attract mate, ceasing once pair established, except in egg-laying... read more


    In Europe in two main habitat types: lowland open woodland with thickets and dense patches of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly invertebrates (especially beetles and ants) all year; also berries and seeds in late summer and autumn. Stomachs of eleven breeding... read more


    Late Apr to mid-Jul throughout Europe; May–Jul in Afghanistan; mid-Apr to Jun in Morocco and May in Algeria; single-brooded in... read more


    Migratory, using two main pathways. Nominate race migrates over broad front across N Africa,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). European population in mid-1990s estimated at 3,184,886–4,617,751 pairs, with additional 50,000–500,000 pairs in Turkey... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos). 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 9 December 2019).