Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)


French: Fauvette à tête noire German: Mönchsgrasmücke Spanish: Curruca capirotada
Other common names: Blackcap

Motacilla Atricapilla


, 1758,



Geographical variation very slight and largely clinal, and racial boundaries poorly marked; nominate race intergrades with dammholzi in Turkey, Crimea and NW Caucasus, and heineken and pauluccii intergrade widely in Spain and NW Africa. Proposed race riphaea (described from SE Urals, in W Russia) synonymized with nominate, koenigi (Mallorca) with pauluccii, obscura (Madeira) with heineken, and atlantis (Azores) with gularis. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. a. atricapilla (Linnaeus, 1758) – W Europe (S to Pyrenees and N Italy) E to SW Siberia, S to C Turkey, Levant (rare) and SW Russia; non-breeding W & S Europe, and NW, W & E Africa.
  • S. a. gularis Alexander, 1898 – Azores and Cape Verde Is.
  • S. a. heineken (Jardine, 1830) – W & S Iberian Peninsula, Madeira and Canary Is, and NW Africa in Morocco E probably to NW Algeria.
  • S. a. pauluccii Arrigoni, 1902 – E Spain, Balearic Is, Corsica, Sardinia, C & S Italy (including Sicily), and probably NE Algeria and Tunisia.
  • S. a. dammholzi Stresemann, 1928 – NE Turkey, Caucasus and S Caspian Sea region; non-breeding E sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    14 cm; 8·5–31 g. Medium-sized warbler with moderately long square-ended tail and long, pointed wings; a partially melanistic morph occurs in Atlantic islands,... read more


    Song, from inside bush or tree cover usually at c. 4·5–13 m above ground, occasionally... read more


    Breeds in almost any kind of forested area. Favours broadleaf deciduous forest and mixed woodland,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insectivorous during breeding season; largely frugivorous in rest of year. Invertebrate diet includes adults and larvae of most... read more


    Chiefly mid-Apr to Aug in most of range (one record of nestlings in Sept in Corsica); two main seasons, late Aug to late Nov and (less... read more


    Largely sedentary on Atlantic and Mediterranean islands. Partially migratory in Mediterranean Basin... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to very common in most of range. In Europe (which constitutes c. 75% of breeding range) one of the most numerous bird species... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R., Gargallo, G. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). 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 28 February 2020).