Wood warbler

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Wood warbler
In Inversnaid, Scotland
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Phylloscopidae
Genus: Phylloscopus
P. sibilatrix
Binomial name
Phylloscopus sibilatrix
(Bechstein, 1793)
Range of P. sibilatrix
  Vagrant (seasonality uncertain)

The wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) is a common and widespread leaf warbler which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe, and just into the extreme west of Asian Russia in the southern Ural Mountains.

This warbler is strongly migratory and the entire population winters in tropical Africa.


The genus name Phylloscopus is from Ancient Greek phullon, "leaf", and skopos, "seeker" (from skopeo, "to watch"). The specific sibilatrix is Latin for "whistler".[2]

At the end of the nineteenth century the bird was also called "wood-wren".[3]


Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

This is a bird of open but shady mature woodlands, such as beech and sessile oak, with some sparse ground cover for nesting. The dome-shaped nest is built near the ground in low shrub. Six or seven eggs are laid in May; there may be a second brood. Like most Old World warblers, this small passerine is insectivorous.

The main nest predators of wood warblers breeding in the primeval habitat of Białowieża Forest, Poland, are mammals, especially medium-sized carnivores, which mostly predate nests at night using sound or olfaction. Therefore, nest survival declined with nest progression likely due to increased predator detection of older and louder chicks.[4]


The wood warbler is 11–12.5 cm long, and a typical leaf warbler in appearance, green above and white below with a lemon-yellow breast. It can be distinguished from similar species, like the chiffchaff P. collybita and the willow warbler, P. trochilus by its yellow supercilium, throat and upper breast, pale tertial edges, longer primary projection, and by its shorter but broader tail.

It is a summer visitor to the United Kingdom, seen from April until August. It has declined there in recent years. It is rare in Ireland, where there is a very small but apparently stable breeding population in County Wicklow.[5]

Various factors associated with forest structure, including slope, forest cover, proportion of broad-leaf forest, canopy height and forest edge length, all influence the occupancy rates of this declining forest species. Conservation measures are therefore required that provide and maintain the wood warblers preferred forest structure.[6] There is also a preference for forest in the non-breeding season; however, this habitat is declining in wintering areas such as Ghana. Despite the decline in forest habitat, there has been no change in the number of wood warblers as it appears that this species can use degraded habitats, such as well-wooded farms. However, further loss of trees will likely have a negative impact on this species in the future.[7][8]


It has two song types, often (but not always) given alternately; a high-pitched fluid metallic trill of increasing tempo pit-pit-pitpitpitpt-t-t-ttt lasting 2–3 seconds, and a series of 3 to 5 descending piping notes of lower pitch piüü-piüü-piüü. The contact call is a soft piping note, similar to the second song type, but shorter and given singly, piü.


  1. ^ BirdLife International. (2016). "Phylloscopus sibilatrix". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22715260A87668662. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715260A87668662.en. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 305, 355. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Saunders, Howard (1889). An illustrated manual of British birds. London: Gurney and Jackson. pp. 65f. OCLC 4671598 (all editions).
  4. ^ Maziarz, M.; Grendelmeier, A.; Wesołowski, T.; Arlettaz, R.; Broughton, R.K.; Pasinelli, G. (2019). "Patterns of predator behaviour and Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix nest survival in a primaeval forest" (PDF). Ibis. 161 (4): 854–866. doi:10.1111/ibi.12679. S2CID 92111041.
  5. ^ Perry, Kenneth W. "The Annual Report of the Irish Rare Birds Breeding Panel 2102" Irish Birds Vol.9 p.572
  6. ^ Huber, N.; Kéry, M.; Pasinelli, G. (2017). "Occupancy dynamics of the Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix assessed with habitat and remote sensing data". Ibis. 159 (3): 623–637. doi:10.1111/ibi.12472.
  7. ^ Mallord, J.W.; Orsman, C.J.; Roberts, J.T.; Boafo, K.; Skeen, R.Q.; Sheehan, D.K.; Vickery, J.A. (2018). "Apparent resilience of a declining Afro‐Palaearctic migrant to forest loss on the wintering grounds". Ibis. 160 (4): 805–815. doi:10.1111/ibi.12572.
  8. ^ Buchanan, Graeme M.; Mallord, John W.; Orsman, Christopher J.; Roberts, Japheth T.; Boafo, Kwame; Skeen, Roger Q.; Whytock, Robin C.; Hulme, Mark F.; Guilain, Tsetagho; Segniagbeto, Gabriel H.; Assou, Délagnon (2020). "Changes in the area of optimal tree cover of a declining Afro-Palaearctic migrant across the species' wintering range". Ibis. 162 (1): 175–186. doi:10.1111/ibi.12690. ISSN 1474-919X. S2CID 91617261.

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