Cetti's Warbler

Cettia cetti



Cetti's Warbler is stout with a longish, wide and rounded tail, and shortish wings also with roundish ends. The sexes are similar, and juveniles appear like adults. Birds are deep reddish-brown above, they have a pale throat, they are mostly greyish underneath, they have a grey head with a pale stripe above the eye, and there's a reddish tinge to the flanks and beneath the tail. The pale bill has a dark tip and the legs are pinkish.


Breeding takes place in thick vegetation with brambles or willows, usually damp and lowland areas. May frequent reedbeds when not breeding.


This is a timid bird with a loud song. It is fast in flight, making quick journeys between hiding spots in vegetation, and it regularly hops on the ground when feeding. Tail is often held erect and bobs up and down. Uses same breeding territories season after season.


Diet includes moths and their caterpillars, flies, beetles and snails.


Some birds have common female to male match ups, while some males breed with multiple females. Females incubate 4 or 5 eggs for about 16-17 days, and it is mostly her who tends to the young. Hatchlings fledge at about 14-16 days old and depart the nest at this time, though the brood remains united until young gains independence at about 15-30 days old.


Birds who breed in the region generally don't travel large distances, though some birds depart their breeding territories in September and return in April, possibly to winter in Europe. Birds from other regions may be migratory. More than 2000 males hold territories in the region each year.

Observation Tips

Hearing the Cetti's Warbler song is a much easier task than seeing this bird. The species is mostly exclusive to the south of the region, from Cornwall to Norfolk. Reserves in Dorset or Hampshire may provide listening opportunities in spring.


Has a dramatic, bold song that is a series similar to this: 'chee, chippi-chip-pi-chippi'. Also has a 'plut' call. The species is most often heard during spring, particularly at night, but may be heard sporadically year-round.
Back to Bird Index