|Garden warbler (Sylvia borin)|
There are 28 species currently included in the genus, including five species formerly treated in the genus Parisoma, a treatment which left Sylvia paraphyletic. Typical warblers occur in the temperate to tropical regions of Europe, western and central Asia, and Africa, with the highest species diversity centred on the Mediterranean.
They are strongly built, with stouter legs and a slightly thicker bill than many other warblers, and range in size from 11 cm length and 7 g weight (African desert warbler) up to 17 cm length and 36 g weight (barred warbler). The plumage is in varying shades of grey and brown, usually darker above and paler below, with bluish or pinkish tones in several species; several also have orange-brown or rufous fringed wing feathers. The tail is square-ended in most, slightly rounded in a few, and in several species has white sides. Many of the species show some sexual dimorphism, with distinctive male and female plumages, with the males in many having black or bright grey on the heads, replaced by brown, brownish-grey or similar dusky colours in females; about a third of the species also have a conspicuous red eye ring in males. Species breeding in cool temperate regions are strongly migratory, while most of those in warmer regions are partially migratory or resident. They are active warblers usually associated with open woodland, scrub, hedges or shrubs. Their diet is largely insectivorous, though several species also eat fruit extensively, mainly small berries such as elder and ivy, particularly from late summer to late winter; one species (blackcap) also frequently takes a wide variety of human-provided foods on birdtables in winter.
Taxonomy and systematics
The genus Sylvia was introduced in 1769 by the Italian naturalist Giovanni Antonio Scopoli. The type species is the Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). The genus name is from Modern Latin silvia, a woodland sprite, related to silva, a wood.
The typical warblers are now known to form a major lineage in a clade containing also the parrotbills and some taxa formerly considered to be Old World babblers. The other "Old World warblers" have been moved to their own families, entirely redelimiting the Sylviidae. Because of their distinctness, the Sylvia group might be considered a subfamily Sylviinae, but several Old World warblers are pending restudy with the new data. In particular the relationship to the African hill babbler (Pseudoalcippe abyssinica) and the Beijing babbler (Rhopophilus pekinensis) are not entirely resolved but certainly more distant.
A molecular phylogenetic study using mitochondrial DNA sequence data published in 2011 found that the species in the genus Sylvia formed two distinct clades. Based on these results, the ornithologists Edward Dickinson and Leslie Christidis in the fourth edition of Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, chose to split the genus and moved most of the species into a resurrected genus Curruca retaining only the Eurasian blackcap and the garden warbler in Sylvia. In an additional change they moved the African hill babbler and Dohrn's thrush-babbler into Sylvia. The split was not made by the British Ornithologists' Union on the grounds that "a split into two genera would unnecessarily destabilize nomenclature and results in only a minor increase in phylogenetic information content."
The genus as currently circumscribed includes the following species:
- Eurasian blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
- Garden warbler Sylvia borin
- Barred warbler, Sylvia nisoria
- Lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca
- Desert whitethroat Sylvia minula
- Hume's whitethroat Sylvia althaea
- Western Orphean warbler Sylvia hortensis
- Eastern Orphean warbler Sylvia crassirostris
- Arabian warbler Sylvia leucomelaena
- Asian desert warbler Sylvia nana
- African desert warbler Sylvia deserti
- Common whitethroat Sylvia communis
- Dartford warbler Sylvia undata
- Marmora's warbler Sylvia sarda
- Balearic warbler Sylvia balearica
- Tristram's warbler Sylvia deserticola
- Spectacled warbler Sylvia conspicillata
- Subalpine warbler Sylvia cantillans
- Moltoni's warbler Sylvia subalpina
- Sardinian warbler Sylvia melanocephala
- Menetries's warbler Sylvia mystacea
- Rüppell's warbler Sylvia ruppeli
- Cyprus warbler Sylvia melanothorax
- Yemen warbler Sylvia buryi – formerly placed in Parisoma
- Brown parisoma Sylvia lugens – formerly placed in Parisoma
- Banded parisoma Sylvia boehmi – formerly placed in Parisoma
- Chestnut-vented warbler Sylvia subcoerulea – formerly placed in Parisoma
- Layard's warbler Sylvia layardi – formerly placed in Parisoma
Formerly, some authorities also considered the following species (or subspecies) as species within the genus Sylvia:
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Sylviid babblers, parrotbills & white-eyes". World Bird List Version 6.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
- Del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A., & Christie, D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-96553-06-X.
- Helbig, A. J. (2001). The characteristics of the genus: Phylogeny and biogeography of the genus Sylvia. Pages 24–28 in: Shirihai, H., Gargallo, G., Helbig, A. J., & Harris, A. Sylvia Warblers. Helm Identification Guides ISBN 0-7136-3984-9
- Jønsson, K. A. & Fjeldså, J. (2006). A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). Zool. Scripta 35 (2): 149–186. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00221.x (HTML abstract)
- Snow, D. W., & Perrins, C. M. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic (Concise ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
- Scopoli, Giovanni Antonio (1769). Annus I historico-naturalis (in Latin). Lipsiae (Leipzig): C.G. Hilscheri. p. 154.
- Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 11. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 270.
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Alström, P.; Ericson, P. G. P.; Olsson, U.; Sundberg, P. (2006). "Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 38 (2): 381–397. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.05.015. PMID 16054402.
- Cibois, Alice (2003). "Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of babblers (Timaliidae)". The Auk. 120 (1): 35–54. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120[0035:MDPOBT]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 4090138.
- Voelker, Gary; Light, Jessica E. (2011). "Palaeoclimatic events, dispersal and migratory losses along the Afro-European axis as drivers of biogeographic distribution in Sylvia warblers". BioMed Central Evolutionary Biology. 11 (163). doi: . PMC . PMID 21672229.
- Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
- Sangster, G.; et al. (2016). "Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report". Ibis. 158 (1): 206–212. doi: .
- "Pachycephala rufiventris - Avibase". avibase.bsc-eoc.org. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
- Brambilla, Mattia; Vitulano, Severino; Spina, Fernando; Bacetti, Nicola; Gargalllo, Gabriel; Fabbri, Elena; Guidali, Franca; Randi, Ettore (2008). "A molecular phylogeny of the Sylvia cantillans complex: Cryptic species within the Mediterranean basin". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 48 (2): 461–472. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.05.013.
- Svensson, Lars (2013). "A taxonomic revision of the Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club. 133: 240–248.
- Svensson, Lars (2013). "Subalpine Warbler variation and taxonomy". British Birds. 106 (11): 651–668.
- Typical warbler videos on the Internet Bird Collection