Adult male Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Subfamily: Saxicolinae
Genus: Luscinia
T. Forster, 1817

Several, see text


Calliope Gould, 1836
Cyanosylvia Brehm, 1828

Luscinia is a genus of smallish passerine birds, containing the nightingales and relatives. Formerly classed as members of the thrush family Turdidae, they are now considered to be Old World flycatchers (Muscicapidae) of the chat subfamily (Saxicolinae). The chats are a lineage of Old World flycatchers that has evolved convergently to thrushes.



Thrush Nightingale, Luscinia luscinia
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) song

The Luscinia species are stocky small birds, 13–16 cm long with an upright stance and a moderately short frequently cocked tail. They watch for insects, worms and other invertebrates from a low perch, and feed mostly on the ground, hopping, with frequent stops, on their strong legs. They are territorial during the breeding season, and most occur as far north as to be migratory.[1]

In the three species named as nightingales, the sexes are similar. They are plain brown above, whitish below with light streaking, and have a rufous tail. In the other Luscinia species, the male is much brighter than the cryptic, usually brownish-grey female. Males have a dark blue, black or brown back, and red, orange or blue on the throat and upper breast. Several have white or rufous patches on the sides of the tail, giving a pattern recalling that of the closely related wheatear (Oenanthe), or some of the less closely related Muscicapinae (e.g. Red-breasted Flycatcher, Ficedula parva). The songs of this genus are often complex and musical, especially in the "typical" nightingales.[1]

They are birds of Eurasia, occurring from the subarctic to the tropical regions. They are plentiful in temperate regions, and many of the birds in this genus are strongly migratory, wintering in tropical Africa, India or Southeast Asia.[1]

The breeding habitat is typically scrub or forest, and their cup nest is usually constructed low in a bush. The birds can be difficult to see in dense undergrowth, especially if not singing, but they may frequent somewhat more open habitats in their winter quarters.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics

Luscinia was used for nightingales and similar birds in Classical Latin already (e.g. in the AD 70s Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder), if not earlier. Etymologically, it might be derived from luscus (Latin for "half-blind", "half-understood" etc.) or clueō (Latin for "to be well-known") + (probably) Latin canō "to sing". Hence, it could be translated as "little-seen [as in the twilight] songster" or "famous songster".[2]

The species currently placed in Luscinia are:

Delimitation of Luscinia versus the genus Erithacus has been confused for long; species were rather indiscriminately placed in one or the other genus, or Luscinia was entirely merged into Erithacus. Recent research suggests that the genera should be rearranged, with the East Asian species (like the Siberian Blue Robin and the Japanese Robin, E. akahige) forming a distinct genus or belonging into Luscinia. No matter how they are eventually divided up, Erithacus and Luscinia are distinct and ancient lineages of the chats.[3]

Fossil remains of a probable Luscinia resembling to the larger members of the genus have been found at Polgárdi in Hungary. They date from the Messinian age, around 12 to 7.3 million years ago (Ma) during the Late Miocene subepoch. A Late Pliocene fossil from Rębielice Królewskie (Poland), of Piacenzian age (around 3 Ma), could be an ancestral Bluethroat. A supposed Sylvia warbler fossil from the late Gelasian of Bad Deutsch-Altenburg (Austria), about 2 Ma old, may be of a Luscinia instead; due to its recent age it probably belongs to a living species or its immediate ancestor.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Grimmett et al. (1999), Svensson et al. (1999)
  2. ^ Lewis & Short (1879), Glare (1968-1982)
  3. ^ Jønsson & Fjeldså (2006), Seki (2006)
  4. ^ Hír et al. (2001), Mlíkovský (2002)


  • Glare, P. G. W. (ed.) (1968–1982): Oxford Latin Dictionary (1st ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-864224-5
  • Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol, Inskipp, Tim & Byers, Clive (1999): Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
  • Hír, János; Kókay, József; Venczel, Márton; Gál, Erika & Kessler, Eugén (2001): Elõzetes beszámoló a felsõtárkányi "Güdör-kert" n. õslénytani lelõhelykomplex újravizsgálatáról [A preliminary report on the revised investigation of the paleontological locality-complex "Güdör-kert" at Felsõtárkány, Northern Hungary)] Folia Historico Naturalia Musei Matraensis 25: 41–64 [Hungarian with English abstract]. PDF fulltext
  • Jønsson, Knud A. & Fjeldså, Jon (2006): A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). Zoologica Scripta 35(2): 149–186. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00221.x
  • Lewis, Charlton T. & Short, Charles (eds.) (1879): A Latin Dictionary (1st ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Mlíkovský, Jirí (2002): Cenozoic Birds of the World (Part 1: Europe). Ninox Press, Prague. ISBN 80-901105-3-8 PDF fulltext
  • Seki, Shin-Ichi (2006): The origin of the East Asian Erithacus robin, Erithacus komadori, inferred from cytochrome b sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(3): 899–905. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.028 PMID 16529957
  • Svensson, Lars; Zetterström, Dan; Mullarney, Killian & Grant, Peter J. (1999): Collins Bird Guide. Harper & Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-219728-6

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Luscinia — Rossignols, calliope et gorge bleue …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Luscinia — n. A genus of birds including the nightingale {Luscinia megarhyncos}. Syn: genus {Luscinia}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Luscinia — (Гаррахов,Чехия) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: Harrachov 514, Гаррахов, 512 46 …   Каталог отелей

  • LUSCINIA — an quod lugens canit, an. quod canit ante lucem, ut Isid. an potius, quod in lucis canit, ut Vost. vult? in cantatricibus avibus praecipua est. Sen. Ep. 76. Habet vocem sed quanto dulciorem, mobilioremque lusciniae? Unde et Graecis ἀηδὼν, quia… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Luscinĭa — (lat.), Nachtigall …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Luscinĭa — Luscinĭa, die Nachtigall …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • luscínia — s. f. [Ornitologia] Gênero de pássaros insetívoros a que pertence o rouxinol …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Luscinia — Nachtigallen Orangenachtigall (Luscinia brunnea) Systematik Klasse: Vögel (Aves) Ordnung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Luscinia — Luscinia …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Luscinia —   Luscinia E …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.