The Blackcap is a mainly grey warbler with distinct male and female plumages. They are about 13 cm (5.1 in) long with a 7-8 cm (2.8-3.1 in) wing length. Body mass is 16-25 g but can be up to 31 g for birds preparing to migrate. The adult male has olive-grey upperparts, other than a paler grey nape and a neat black cap on the head. The underparts are light grey, becoming silvery white on the chin, throat and upper breast. The tail is dark grey, with an olive tint to the outer edge of each feather. The bill and long legs are grey, and the iris is reddish-brown. The female resembles the male, but has a reddish-brown cap and a slightly browner tone to the grey of the upperparts.

Habitat and Distribution

Birds on the Mediterranean and Atlantic islands and in the west and south of the Eurasian distribution often winter within the nesting range, but populations elsewhere are migratory. Those birds wintering in eastern Africa are of the southwest Asian race. The bird 's breeding habitat is mature deciduous woodland, with good scrub cover below the trees. Other habitats, such as parks, large gardens and overgrown hedges are used. The preffered winter habitat is scrub and olive orchards.


The Blackcap feeds mainly on insects during the breeding season, then switches to fruit in late summer. They mainly pick prey off foliage and twigs, but may also hover, flycatch or feed on the ground. Berries, nectar, pollen are eaten sometimes.


Blackcaps first breed when they are one year old. The nest is a neat cup of roots, stems and grasses lined with fine material such as hair. It is constructed by the female and may be up to 4,5 m above ground. The clutch is typically 4-6 eggs, which are buff with grey and brown blotches and a few dark brown spots. The eggs are incubated for an average of 11 days, both parents do the incubation.

Calls and Songs

The male's song is a rich musical warbling, often ending in a loud high-pitched crescendo, which is given in bursts of up to 30 seconds. The main call is a hard tac-tac, like stones knocking together.