German or Swedish pied flycatchers

Since the end of the 1950s, 20-30 pairs of pied flycatchers have bred within my area. During 1976 I found one pair occupying a nest box with the identical colour of grey-brown and white. Normally in Scandinavia and Western Europe the male is black and white and the female grey-brown and white. During all those years, I had only encountered black and white males. In central Europe including West Germany, a high proportion of males are grey-brown and white, and in Skane (southern Sweden) there are approximately equal numbers of each colour-type of male, so clearly this bird was an incomer well away from its normal breeding area.

A cold period had occurred in the last week of May that year interrupting the egg laying of the pied flycatchers. As soon as the average temperature rose above 10°C again, egg laying resumed. But the odd coupic had by this time already hatched out their young, six in all, all of which successfully left the nest. This pair must have come from a more southerly area to have commenced breeding so early. The female was tinged, and on a subsequent visit to the area immediately after midsummer, 1 found the same pair with a second clutch of eggs in a starling model of the 'All-year' nest box with a 5 cm entrance hole, compared with the 3.5 cm entrance hole of their previous nest box. This time there were five eggs, but four of the young died when newly born, and the fifth succumbed one week after hatching. Why this happened is not known. This was the only time that pied flycatchers arc known to have double brooded in this area.

When the coupic was studied from a hide, it was noticed that they were much more cautious than 'normal' pied flycatchers and were very quiet in the nest. They did not feed as often, though whether or not this w as due to a shortage of food is unclear. This pair did not return in 1977, nor have any similar birds been seen since.

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