Named after the 18th century Italian zoologist and Jesuit priest, Francisco Cetti this small plain looking bush warbler is frequently heard but difficult to spot.
Male and female adults are similar in appearance and are predominantly brown and grey. The throat is light buff to white, morphing into pale grey underparts which extend to the vent which is the area between the belly and the undertail coverts. The undertail is a rusty brown as are the flanks with the sides of the breast having a pale brown hue. Upperparts are a dark reddish brown with the short round wings and long round tail uppers a darker brown still. The head is round with greyish brown cheeks and ear coverts and a narrow whitish stripe over the top of the eye. The face is grey and the short fine bill is dark brown with a pink base to the lower mandible. The legs are brown with a reddish hue. Juvenile cetti’s warblers are similar in appearance to the adult although duller in colour tone.
This little bird is one of the UK’s loudest song birds which is why it can frequently be heard, but due to its colour and size is far more difficult to see. Whilst both male and females sing the male does so with far more frequency. Often singing under cover the song is a loud staccato ‘chewee – chewee – chew – chew – chewee – chewchewchewchwee’. The volume and clarity of the song can carry it over a considerable distance.
Cetti's Warbler song
Jon Lowes, XC621546. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/621546.
Cetti's Warbler singing
Whilst occasionally feeding on seeds the diet of the cetti’s warbler consists of a selection of aphids, insects and their larvae, spiders, snails, worms and small molluscs which it forages from the ground or low down on undergrowth in ditches and below hedges. It prefers tiny insects which are easily digested.
Cetti’s warblers were first sighted in the UK in the early 1960’s and the first record of them successfully breeding here was in 1973. They are classified as a resident breeder and their conservation status is ‘secure’.
Cetti’s warblers inhabit wetlands or areas bordering wetlands where there is a predominance of undergrowth or reeds and including streams and overgrown ditches. Often choosing wetland bird reserves the main geographical areas of habitation within the UK are the south coast of England from Kent to Cornwall, Norfolk, Humberside, both sides of the Bristol Channel and the Lancashire coast.
A small but stocky, mainly brown coloured bird, the cetti’s warbler is recognised predominantly by its signature call. Once heard, patience is required and you may be rewarded by a glimpse of one as it flits through the undergrowth or reedbeds or perhaps chance to identify one by its long, cocked tail. Rarely do they venture more than three metres into the air so limit your observations to ground level and try to catch them when they are on the ground foraging, breeding or nesting.
The female builds a deep cup shaped nest out of leaves and grasses which is lined with fine material and feathers and located in thick dense vegetation about a foot above the ground. Between April to June up to two broods are produced each consisting of 3 – 5 bright red eggs. Incubation lasts sixteen to seventeen days and fledging occurs approximately two weeks later. After fledging the chicks are still fed by their parents, becoming independent around one month after hatching.
Juvenile Cetti's Warbler
Life expectancy for cetti’s warblers is up to seven years.
The most common way to pronounce Cetti's Warbler is 'Chetti's Warbler'.
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