This mainly plain, solitary, short billed, stocky little warbler is widespread throughout Europe and a long distance migrant to Africa, crossing the Sahara Desert without pause.
The adult male has a round head and face with a short thick bill. The upperparts are a pale buff brownish grey with a pale grey patch on the side of the neck and a thin pale white eye ring. The underparts are paler than the upper, being almost white with a light buff coloured chin and throat extending to the flanks. Eyes are a dark brown and the beak is brown. Legs are a brownish grey. The female is as the male and although smaller the juvenile is also similar to the adult in overall appearance.
Garden Warbler perched on a branch
The garden warbler’s call is a low ‘chek-chek’ or ‘churrr’ sound with an alarm call of repeated single notes, ‘whet’ and ‘duij’. The song, most commonly sung by the male whilst perched under the cover of bushes or tree foliage, is a fast and varied rich, melodious, medium to high pitched, warble.
Garden Warbler song / call
Rick Sharloch, XC651781. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/651781.
Close up of a Garden Warbler
During the breeding season, the garden warbler feeds mainly on insects and spiders which it collects off leaves and branches from surrounding trees. Once breeding has concluded the bird changes its diet to include berries and fruits which it eats in abundance in order to build up its fat reserves in preparation for its long migration south which normally takes place between late July and September.
A pair of Garden Warblers
Garden warblers breed in the United Kingdom, most of Continental Europe and eastwards into Turkey and the Caucasus. Winter migration takes them south to sub-Saharan and South Africa. They prefer open woodland of broadleaf trees or mixed deciduous/coniferous forests, urban parks and domestic gardens. Shrubs or scattered bushes, particularly blackthorn and hawthorn, are also favoured.
In order to attract a mate a bird will normally use one of two methods, dependent upon its species, which is either looks or voice. It is rare to find a bird which uses both. For example beautiful colourful proud looking birds will puff up their plumage and pose or promenade in order to attract a mate, rarely will they attempt to serenade them. This often leaves them exposed to predation. Conversely those birds with an enchanting melodious repertoire are often plain and non-descript looking and issue forth their songs hidden and safe in bushes or thickets. As with the Nightingale, the garden warbler is a prime example of the latter. During the summer when garden warblers are nest building and breeding they can often be identified by their song. However, the song can be almost identical to that of the Blackcap so this is not always an accurate identification method. Whilst their overall appearance may be uninspiring the whitish belly and grey patches on the neck are an aid to positive identification. Although normally solitary they will mingle and feed with other warblers.
Garden Warbler nest with eggs
Breeding occurs from April through until July, depending upon geographical location and climate. The cup shaped nest, constructed by both parents from grasses, leaves and roots, is built low down in a tree or bush and lined with animal hair and fine grasses. One clutch of 4 – 5 buff coloured eggs with brown and purple blotches is produced annually and incubated by both parents for up to twelve days. Fledging takes place ten days later.
Garden Warbler chicks
Life expectancy of the garden warbler is up to five years although examples of ringed birds living past ten years are not uncommon and captive specimens up to eighteen years have been recorded.
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.
Not to be confused with the Great Reed Warbler, this relatively nondescript, solitary little bird is an annual visitor to the UK from sub-Saharan Africa, arriving in mid April and departing early in October.
Mainly confined to lowland heaths in southern England, the Dartford warbler is an elusive little resident breeder with distinctive plumage and physical characteristics.
Until recently this small, solitary, old world leaf warbler was classified as being a member of the family Sylviidae, but following extensive research and reclassification, now falls within the family of Phylloscopidae.
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.
Within its range and to differentiate it from other similar species, it is often referred to as an Eurasian Blackcap. This sexually dichromatic, stocky little warbler, is a member of the genus Sylvia and is sometimes nicknamed the Northern Nightingale due to its beautiful and frequent song.