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.
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.
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.
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 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.