Lesser Whitethroat

Sylvia curruca

12.5-13.5cm

Appearance

The Lesser Whitethroat has a proportionately short tail, and is slightly smaller than the Whitethroat. It is greyish overall, with greyish-brown back and wings and paler underparts; the throat in particular is whitish. The head is grey tinged with blue, the bird's face darkens around the eyes and cheeks, legs are deep grey, the grey bill has a dark tip, and the outside feathers of the tail are white. Juveniles birds are similar to adults.

Habitat

Tends towards scrub of hawthorn or blackthorn, hedgerows, shrubs, and embankments or industrial areas overtaken by vegetation.

Character

This is an inconspicuous bird whose song is often the thing to give its presence away. It is territorial during spring but socialises at other times of year, forming small migration flocks and feeding with other warblers in Africa during winter.

Food

Diet includes beetles, ants, flies, midges, caterpillars and some fruits, particularly elderberries and blackberries.

Breeding

Female usually lays around 4 or 5 eggs and both adults incubate these for 10-15 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart the nest after about 10-13 days, before fully capable of flight. Adults may have a second brood.

Population

The Lesser Whitethroat is a summer migrant to the area, with approximately 74 000 visiting pairs each year. It arrives in the region during May and April, following a trip from Africa where it spends winter. Birds depart the region from the middle of July, headed south and south-east through Italy, the Mediterranean and Egypt.

Observation Tips

This bird is most regularly observed in the south and southeast of England. The Lesser Whitethroat is best located by listening for its song, which can be heard between the end of April and beginning of June. May also stopover on coastal locations during spring and autumn, on migration passage.

Voice

Song is rattly and non-melodic, maintaining one note followed by a warbling phrase. Call include 'tac, tack' or a 'stic, stic'; may also use a 'chek' call if disturbed.
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