Phylloscopus trochilus - Pouillot fitis
- Size: 13 cm
- Wingspan: -
- Weight: 8 à 10 g
The Willow Warbler is a bird slightly larger than the Chiffchaff, but more slender and paler. The upper parts are a pale brown tinged with olive. The wings and tail are darker, but the light fringes of the feathers are of the same colour as the coverts. The underparts are white, tinted with yellow to yellow-olive mainly on the chest and flanks.
Now let's take a look at the specific identification criteria of the adult of the nominate subspecies of Middle Europe (vs the Chiffchaff):
- Primary projection: The Willo Warbler has the long wing of a long-distance migrant. The tips of the primaries protrude significantly more from the tertiaries than in the Chiffchaff.
- Leg colour: It is quite variable, yellowish, reddish, pale brown, with the foot of a more marked hue, but never dark brown to blackish like the Chiffchaff.
- The head: A clear and long pale yellow eyebrow, sometimes yellow in front and white behind, outlines the eye. Its sharpness makes the pale orbital ring less visible than in the Chiffchaff. The beak is long and tinged with yellow along the commissure (fine and dark in the Chiffchaff). Finally, the ear coverts are beige (brown in the Chiffchaff).
The juvenile is characterised by a much yellower plumage which makes it resemble for example a Subalpine Warbler. The voice and silhouette are different. The Subalpine Warbler often bristles the feathers of the crown and has light lores, while the Willow Warbler has a clear dark loral line.
The adults of the northern European subspecies acredula are paler, more grey-brown on the upper parts, with a more discreet yellow on the head and on the chest.
Finally, the adults of the central and eastern Siberian subspecies yakutensis have a grey-brown upper part without olive (except on the fringes of the remiges) and a white underside, tinted with greyish on the chest.The yellow only occurs on the undersides of the wings and is not visible. The very prominent brow is white.
Subspecific information 3 subspecies
- Phylloscopus trochilus trochilus (s Sweden, w and c Europe)
- Phylloscopus trochilus acredula (Scandinavia. except s Sweden. to e Europe and w Siberia)
- Phylloscopus trochilus yakutensis (c and e Siberia)
Voice song and cries
The song of the Willow Warbler is very typical and unmistakable. It is a suite of varied whistled notes, emitted in a descending cascade, the first ones quite short and similar, the following ones fuller and melodic, lasting from 4 to 5 seconds.
The call is a u it, clearly bisyllabic compared to the single uit of the Common Chiffchaff.
In the breeding season, the Willow Warbler is not a woodland bird like its cousin the Chiffchaff can be.
In winter, it visits all kinds of wooded environments, particularly the acacia savannah.
Behaviour character trait
The Willow Warbler is a great migrant which spends the boreal winter in Africa, mostly south of the Sahara, including those of the far east Russia birds, which distance to be covered can exceed 12,000 km, or 24,000 km round trip, to be covered in stages of more than 200 km.
The Warbler is aptly named Phylloscopus for it spends its time fluttering in the bushes, inspecting the foliage for its prey, even taking a hovering flight for reconnaissance, rarely resting. It rarely goes down to the ground.
The wing of the Willow Warbler is finer and longer than that of the Chiffchaff, which gives it an easier and faster flight, like a small warbler. Retakes of ringed birds have shown that the Willow Warbler can make nocturnal migratory stops of more than 200 km.
The Willow Warbler primarily feeds on insects, their eggs and larvae and the prey spectrum is very broad.
The breeding period runs from April to July, depending on latitude. In temperate Europe, birds mainly arrive from the beginning of April.
The breeding range of the Willow Warbler stretches across the full length of the Eurasian continent from the British Isles to the far eastern reaches of Russia. In terms of latitude, it is found throughout the entire European and Russian Arctic regions, southwards to Central Europe. The southern boundary goes through the northern regions of Spain, where it is rare, the south of France, skirting around the Alps to the north, then eastwards along a central latitude up to northern Ukraine, south-western Russia, northern Kazakhstan, and on through the south and south-eastern regions of Russia. However, this wide range is not evenly occupied. The population's centre lies distinctly in the European continent. The winter range is in Africa south of the Sahara to the Cape. A small minority of the population winters on the northern fringes of the Sahara and in Ethiopia.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The Willow Warbler is a common species, not threatened, although a moderate decline has been reported in Europe since the 1980s. In contrast, it is noted to be expanding towards the north in Russia, possibly as a result of climate warming. The species is affected by the drought conditions prevalent in its wintering grounds and by habitat loss due to human activity in its breeding zones.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
- Les passereaux d'Europe, tome 2, P. Géroudet, M. Cuisin
- Birds of the World, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- xeno-canto, Sharing bird sounds from around the world,
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: 23-05-2021 - Updated: 23-05-2021
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