Tag Archives: Blackcap

At last a vagrant in the garden

Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla.

All autumn we have been on the look out for vagrants and at last there is a Blackcap in our garden. Many of them have been spotted around the country in the  last month or so along with other vagrants. This Blackcap was eating berries from the bushes and did not come to the feeding trays. The autumn and beginning of winter was been mild and still there are berries to sustain these little birds. We hope it survives winter.

The male’s black cap

Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla

These last few weeks at least three Blackcaps have been in the garden. Around this time of year these annual guests appear and we blog about them. They now come for the apples we put out but also some small berries from the shrubs which there are not a lot of, after the cold and wet summer here in South Iceland.

As is often the case, the name of the species comes from the colour of the male’s black cap but the females have a brown cap.

In a few instances Blackcaps have managed to survive the winter here in the garden but they are usually too cold and wet for them. There is a lot of competition here for the feed we put out as Blackbirds, Redwings and Starlings often have the upper hand and chase the smaller ones away.

Newcomers in the garden

Glóbrystingur – European Robin – Erithacus rubecula

There are new guests in the garden. A European Robin, two female Blackcaps and a Brambling.  They are more than welcome and the Robin got a piece of melon, the Blackcaps an apple and the Brambling some seeds.

Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla

They seemed happy with the refreshments but as the day went on they had to fight with Starlings, Blackbirds and Redwings for food.

Fjallafinka - Brambling -
Fjallafinka – Brambling – Fringilla montifringilla

Still enough berrries

Hettusöngvari - Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla

The winter has been mild so far. The Blackcap is here again after having been away from some time. There are still enough berries on trees and shrubs so Blackcaps, along with other small birds and vagrants, are not as dependent on the food put out form them. At least not yet. The mild weather increases their chances of surviving the winter.



The first Blackcap

Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla
Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla

We spotted this season’s first Blackcap, a male, in the garden today. Blackcaps are annual vagrants and the first ones are usually seen in the end of October but most of them come in the first week of November. Blackcaps have sometimes stayed in the garden the whole winter. How well they cope depends on how mild the winter is. They mostly eat berries from shrubs and the apples that we put out. They also like fat and compete with the other birds for food.

Eating an apple
Eating an apple

This Blackcap was in our garden in Selfoss today.

Blackcaps claiming territory

There are a lot of Blackcaps in Iceland now. In the last couple of days we have had 4 -5 of both genders staying in the garden. They claim territories and therefore there has been a battle between them. It seems that one of them has taken ownership in the garden south of the house and another north of the house.


The Blackcaps like apples and pears a lot and are in constant competition with Thrushes and Starlings for these delicacies .

Blackcaps are vagrants in Iceland and have in a few instances managed to survive through the winter here in the garden. They have the most chance of surviving when the winters are mild. We’ll see what happens this winter.

This photo was taken yesterday, November 16, of a male Blackcap.