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: a small brown European bird that sings a beautiful song especially at night
Full Definition of NIGHTINGALE
: an Old World thrush (Luscinia megarhynchos syn. Erithacus megarhynchos) noted for the sweet usually nocturnal song of the male; also: any of various other birds noted for their sweet song or for singing at night
Eurasian nightingale (Erithacus megarhynchos)—H. Reinhard/Bruce Coleman Inc.
Any of several small Old World thrushes (family Turdidae) renowned for their song. The name refers in particular to the Eurasian nightingale (Erithacus megarhynchos), a brown bird, 6.5 in. (16 cm) long, with a rufous tail. It sings day and night from perches in shubbery. Its strong and varied song, with prominent crescendo effects, has been regarded for centuries throughout Europe and Asia as the most beautiful of all birdsongs. The thrush nightingale, or sprosser (E. luscinia), is a closely related, more northerly species with slightly darker plumage. The term is also applied to other birds with rich songs (e.g., the wood thrush).