Nature's flycatcher needs your help

01 Jun 2010 | No. 2010-06-25

Results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show that Spotted Flycatcher, a once common garden bird during the summer months, has declined by 81% since 1982.

  Four out of every five Spotted Flycatchers
that bred in Britain have disappeared since 1982

Since 1982 four out of every five Spotted Flycatchers that bred in Britain have disappeared. Spending the winter months in sub-Saharan Africa these acrobatic birds may well be facing problems there and the BTO, as part of its Out of Africa project, is working in Africa to find out just what pressures, not only Spotted Flycatchers face there but all of our declining summer migrants. Iconic birds like the Nightingale and the Cuckoo.

While scientists are working in Africa there are things that we can do to help here in our very own back gardens. Spotted Flycatchers feed by launching themselves from a perch in the pursuit of flying insects, and by gardening in a wildlife friendly way, planting nectar rich flowers and food plants for insects, we will be providing food for Spotted Flycatchers and many other wild birds.

Spotted Flycatchers are one of the few summer migrants to the UK that will regularly nest in our gardens, and we can help with this too. Spotted Flycatchers readily take to nest boxes of the open-fronted type, and by putting one up in your garden you will be providing a nesting opportunity for them.

Jeff Baker of the BTO, said, “The future for this bird is looking very bleak and we need to do what we can to help it while it is here in the UK. The simple act of changing the way in which we garden or putting up a nest box are just two of the things we can do to help make a difference.”

An ivy covered wall provides the ideal spot for a nest box. Overhanging leaves may hide the box but flycatchers like a clear view of the world when they are sitting on the nest. Ideally the box should be placed between two and four metres from the ground.

So go on, put up a nest box and help a Spotted Flycatcher today.

Notes for Editors

  1. Spotted Flycatcher is one of 23 summer migrants to Britain that are experiencing dramatic declines in their breeding numbers.
  2. Spotted Flycatchers have declined widely across Europe since the early 80s. A predator 'control' experiment has indicated that the abundance of nest predators may be determining the breeding success of Spotted Flycatchers, especially in woodland, where nest success was lower overall than in gardens. This makes gardens doubly important for breeding Spotted Flycatchers.
  3. The BTO has a nest box guide full of useful information on the building of nest boxes and on the siting of homemade or shop bought boxes.
  4. The BTO Out of Africa appeal aims to raise funds for the Out of Africa project to carry out continuing research in Africa to understand the problems birds like the Spotted Flycatcher are facing there. For more information on how you can help.
  5. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.

Contact information 

Paul Stancliffe (BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07845 900559 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Jeff Baker
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Email:press [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2010-06-25

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

Related content