L 12½-14 cm. Breeds in woodland, gardens, parks, forest edge, generally with some dense vegetation and open areas; in N Europe prefers spruce forest with some deciduous element (e.g. birch), also mixed forest. Migratory in N Europe. Wary but by no means shy. Food insects, snails, worms. Nests in hollow stump, bank, crevice etc.
IDENTIFICATION: Small and brownish with rusty-red ‘bib’ (covers entire breast and face). Narrow yellow wing-bar (most obvious on juveniles). Often looks rather big-headed. Has thin and rather long legs. At times ruffles up feathers so that it looks rounded and compact, but more often looks rather slim. Droops wings, hops rapidly on ground with feet together, curtseys and cocks short tail. Perches motionless, makes a sudden movement, stands still again and so on. - Juvenile: Whole plumage finely spotted. Lacks red bib.
VOICE: Call a short, hard ‘tick’. When nervous, not least at roosting time and ‘reveille’, the ticking calls are protracted into long rapid series, ‘tick-ickick- ick-...’, sounding like a watch being wound up. Alarm an extremely thin and sharp, ventriloquial ‘tsiiih’. On nocturnal migration a thin, hoarse ‘tsi’. Song often begins with a few high, drawn-out, thin notes, then the verse drops in pitch and speeds up with fast runs of trembling and excited clear squeaky notes; tempo and volume vary, no two verses are the same.