The Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae. It, and similar small European species, are often called chats.
It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in forest in Europe and Asia. The distribution is more southerly than the very closely related Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia. It nests low in dense bushes. It winters in southern Africa.
The Nightingale is similar in size to the European Robin at 15-16.5 cm length. It is plain brown above except for the red-sided tail with red side patches. It is buff to white below. Sexes are similar.
The male's famous song is loud, with a impressive range of whistles, trills and gurgles. Although it also sings during the day, the bird is unusual in singing late in the evening, and its song is particularly noticeable at that time because few other birds are singing. This is why its name (in several languages) includes "night". Recent research has shown that the birds sing even more loudly in urban or near-urban environments, in order to overcome the background noise. The most characteristic feature of the song is a loud whistling crescendo. It has a frog-like alarm call.
The prominence of the nightingale's song has led to many cultural references, particularly in music and poetry. Examples include: