Barred Warbler

Sylvia nisoria



This is a large-billed bird, with a long tail and largish head. Adults of the species are seldom present in the region. Males are mostly grey above, greyish white underneath with dark bars, they have a yellow eye, buffish wing-bars with white ends to the inside feathers of the wing, and a pale tail tip. Females are more brown overall, barring is less vivid, and the eye is not as bright. Most of the birds occurring in the region are first-winter birds. These birds are greyish brown on top, pale below with dark barring (though not as dark as the adult), the edges of wing feathers are buffish, as are the wing-bars, and the eye is light brown.


The Barred Warbler tends towards coastal shrubbery and bush territory. When on breeding grounds in the east, it frequently cohabits areas with Red-backed Shrikes and Thrush Nightingales.


The Barred Warbler is timid and moves quickly through dense foliage and plant cover. When on breeding territory, the feathers on adult's heads may raise in crest-like fashion, and the tail flits up and down.


Diet includes beetles, ants, flies, and other invertebrates, and Barred Warblers will also eat berries, particularly blackberries and elderberries, when available.


This is not a breeding bird of the region. Female lays 4 or 5 eggs which both adults incubate. Hatchlings depart the nest after about 10-12 days, before fledging, but they remain nearby for a further 6 or so days, before setting out on autumn migration.


The Barred Warbler is a scarce passage migrant; approximately 150 birds are recorded each year, mostly during autumn. Majority of these arrivals are first-winter birds who have undertaken an untraditional migration journey.

Observation Tips

A common error is the misidentification of a juvenile Barred Warbler as a Garden Warbler. This is due to their similar colouring, and because of the Barred Warbler's habit of darting quickly between areas of cover; this doesn't allow observers prolonged opportunity for identification. The east coast, particularly Kent and the Shetland Islands, is a strong place to visit, particularly during autumn.


Tends to be quiet when in the region, but does have a 'tchrrr' call when disturbed, and a 'tchad-tchad' call too. Other calls resemble the Whitethroat's and the rattle of the Mistle Thrush.
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