Garden Warbler

Sylvia borin

14cm

Appearance

This is a fairly stout, brown bird that lacks any really clear markings. The sexes appear similar; brownish-grey above, buff underneath, short and stumpy grey bill, grey-tinged side of neck, and bluish-grey legs. As the spring passes, the plumage grows more grey. Juveniles are similar to adults, but they can have a deep-green tinge towards the end of summer in comparison to adults.

Habitat

Tends towards woodland with at least some deciduous trees, and uses copses, scrub and hedges as cover. May also be found on copses on farmland, and occasionally in gardens with the appropriate combination of plant life.

Character

The Garden Warbler is often on the move, though mostly hidden in foliage and vegetation, even when singing. Flicks its wings less than other warblers, appearing more at peace under observation.

Food

Diet includes (particularly when breeding) caterpillars, larvae and adult flies and beetles, aphids, worms and spiders. Feeds on berries and other fruit, such as figs on migration.

Breeding

Female lays 4 or 5 eggs during May and both parents incubate for 11-13 days. The hatchlings are tended by both adults for about 30 days, even after they depart the nest when they're about 9-13 days old, commonly before fledging. Occasionally there are two broods.

Population

The Garden Warbler is a summer migrant that's widely found across England and Wales, with around 170 000 pairs in the UK and 330-400 in Ireland. Birds arrive in April and May and depart in the middle of July. Some birds may arrive on the region's southern coasts if they stray from southerly migrations.

Observation Tips

Identification can be difficult without a visual on these birds, as their song is easily confused with that of the Blackcap, and they often sing from hidden places. They're lack of distinct features can also be used as an identifying factor.

Voice

Has an acute 'chek-chek' call and a melodic, full song consisting of many phrases. Songs can last for over a minute without a break, and are mostly voiced between April and July. Sounds very similar to the Blackcap, but is more tuneful overall.
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