The Blackcap is a small bird in the warbler family, with the male having the black cap and a greyish under body with a brownish-grey back, grey wings and a grey tail, while the female has a chestnut brown cap and a brownish body. The song is a delightful warbling sound, albeit not terribly tuneful.


What sound does a Blackcap make?

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Video footage of Blackcaps

Blackcap nesting and breeding habits

The nest, which is usually in dense vegetation such as a bramble bush, is a neat cup of dry grass, moss and other plant material, and lined with finer plant material and hair. Incubation period is approximately 12 -14 days, with the young remaining in the nest for 10-14 days before fledging. Two broods are usual with breeding starting in mid-May.

Blackcap history and population trends

The species is unique in that it is the first which has changed its migration route and destination due to the availability of food provided in UK gardens. This trend applies to an ever-increasing number of Blackcaps from mainland Europe. Overall, Blackcaps are doing well and enjoys a ‘green’ status.

Behaviour traits of Blackcaps

In the breeding season quite shy and often difficult to spot in dense undergrowth, but in the winter and especially in gardens, very bold and often aggressive towards other birds at feeding stations. Indeed, Blackcaps of both sexes will vigorously defend a food source and even chase off Robins.

Blackcap diet and food

Unusually varied for a warbler, Blackcaps switch from insects such as flies and caterpillars in the summer months, to berries and other fruit in the winter. In gardens, they readily take to suet blocks – and are apt at hanging onto suet block cages – and on the ground or from ground feeding trays will eat sunflower hearts and any of our husk-free mixes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common are Blackcaps in UK?

Blackcaps are fairly common in the UK, and generally speaking they’re the species of warbler most likely to be encountered in gardens. Although historically a summer migrant to the UK from Africa and southern Europe, increasingly more Blackcaps now also winter in the UK – and are joined by several thousand more in the winter from northern Europe (mainly Germany).

How do I attract Blackcaps to my garden?

Blackcaps will eat suet products and husk-free seeds like sunflower hearts, and especially during the winter and early spring when their natural food – which is mainly insects – are in short supply. Perhaps surprisingly, Blackcaps are fairly adept at using bird feeders in gardens.

Are Blackcaps rare in UK?

No, Blackcaps are not rare in the UK, and indeed the breeding population is around 1.6m pairs and increasing (probably because of milder winters as a result of climate change).

Do Blackcaps use nest boxes?

No, Blackcaps don't use nest boxes but instead build a cup-shaped nest in a hedge or other dense vegetation like a shrub.

Are Blackcaps solitary?

Blackcaps are solitary in that they don’t breed in colonies or flock together outside the breeding season, though some birds might migrate together.