Balearic Warbler

Sylvia balearica

This small but long tailed, large headed warbler, is a resident of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean where it is common, although is not present on the island of Menorca.

Balearic Warbler

Family:

Warblers

Length:

12cm

Wingspan:

13cm to 17cm

Weight:

8g to 12g

What does a Balearic Warbler look like?

The adult male in breeding plumage is predominantly grey above and pale grey below, with a blue grey head and a pronounced red orbital ring surrounding a dark orange iris. There is a darker grey area forming a mask from the base of the top of the beak extending around the top of the eye. The flight feathers are a dark grey almost black with lighter edges and the bastard wing (alula) is black, fringed white. The long tail is black, fringed grey with white tips. Chin and throat are a pale grey morphing to an almost white breast, belly and vent. The flanks are a dirty white or light buff colour. The bill is a pinky orange with a black tip, particularly across the upper mandible and the legs are pinkish light brown. In non breeding plumage the upperparts and wing coverts of the adult male have more of a brownish hue and the dark face mask is less obvious. The underparts are more buff coloured than white whilst the area around the throat loses its grey colouration and becomes white. The plumage of the breeding female is similar to the non breeding plumage of the male but lacks the blue hue and overall is more of a brownish shade. Non breeding females have brown upperparts and white underparts.

Balearic Warbler

Balearic Warbler perched on a branch

What does a Balearic Warbler sound like?

The call is a short medium pitched ‘chru – chru’ sound repeated often whilst the song is typically a series of warbles generally ending with a multi pitched trilling.

Balearic Warbler call / song

Hans Matheve, XC513940. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/513940.

What does a Balearic Warbler eat?

The Balearic warbler survives mainly on a diet of insects and spiders which it takes during ground foraging of from branches and leaves on low scrub and bushes. It will also take flies in flight and seasonally will supplement its diet with fruits.

Distribution

This bird is monotypic and endemic to the Balearic archipelago off the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, which includes the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Cabrera and Formentera. It is not found on the island of Menorca, the second largest island of the group.

Balearic Warbler

Balearic Warbler sat in a tree

Signs and Spotting tips

Whilst mainly occupying areas of dry scrubland, pine forests and juniper trees are also favoured by this small, solitary, but pretty bird. Whilst its markings are similar in part to the Marmora’s Warbler and even the Dartford Warbler, it is widespread throughout its range and its blue grey head, orange iris and bold red orbital ring aids positive identification. It can often be seen singing at the top of a bush or tree top. The bird is resident within its range and is a common site in the Boquer Valley in the north of Mallorca.

Breeding

At the start of the breeding season which runs from March through to June both parents construct a cup shaped nest lined with fine grasses and hair which is located in low lying scrub approximately half a metre above ground level. Two broods, each of between 2 – 4 eggs, are produced annually during the season and are incubated by both parents for up to two weeks. Fledging occurs some twelve days later.

How long do Balearic Warblers live for?

The lifespan of the Balearic Warbler is up to five years.

Similar birds to a Balearic Warbler

Other birds in the Warblers family