Habitat use by nightingales in a scrub-woodland mosaic at the edge of the range

Charles Holt, Katherine Fraser, Alan J. Bull, Paul Dolman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Capsule Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos with song territories in scrub vegetation also used adjacent woodland.

Aims To examine spatial use by Nightingales of vegetation mosaics and associated selection of vegetation height classes.

Methods We examined habitat selection by male Nightingales through territory mapping and radiotracking within a mosaic of dry scrub and woodland adjacent to water-filled gravel pits in eastern England.

Results Fourteen song territories were exclusively in scrub, 2 were exclusively in woodland, and 13 comprised both habitat types. Densities were greatest in scrub vegetation of 3–5 m height. Best-supported models for territory density indicated the importance of considering optimal vegetation height within management prescriptions. Despite song territories being in scrub, kernel home-ranges of all radiotracked Nightingales contained areas of mature trees. Birds also spent more time there than expected based on availability of woodland within kernels.

Conclusions Habitat quality has been implicated in the decline of Nightingales in lowland woodland in Britain (and an associated increase in the proportion found in scrub). Our results indicate that woodland habitat characteristics provide resources for Nightingales with song territories located in dry scrub and may be a factor in territory establishment, and are therefore relevant for conservation practitioners at such sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-425
Number of pages10
JournalBird Study
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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