Sedge Warbler

Acrocephalus schoenobaenus



The Sedge Warbler has quite a flat head and a dark streak that runs from its eye to the bill's base. It is sandy-brown on top with dark streaks, and the underparts are pale with an orangish-buff tinge on the flanks and breast. The rump is reddish brown and it has a stripe over the eye. The plumage dulls towards the end of summer. Juveniles resemble adults but they are more vivid in their colouring and have lightly streaked breasts.


Breeding usually takes place in wet areas in dense vegetation such as marshes, reedbeds and riverside scrub. Some breeding occurs in drier habitats such as bramble, hawthorn thickets, and crop fields.


Moves through vegetation to feed, and can be difficult to observe at it does so. When singing, it often claims a visible perch and may even perform a stilted songflight. If young are disturbed soon after fledging, they point their bill to the sky.


Diet includes flies, beetles, spiders, worms and small snails. Eats plum-reed aphids before migration, and also eats plant material such as berries during autumn.


Female builds nest and lays 4 or 5 eggs towards the end of April or during May. She incubates for 13-15 days, and hatchlings then stay in the nest for 10-14 days, where both parents feed them.


The Sedge Warbler is a summer visitor that arrives in the middle of April and departs breeding territories in July. Birds then go to an area of abundant food to fatten up for the 3900km flight to Africa. There are approximately 290 000 pairs in the UK and 20 000-100 000 in Ireland, with changeable numbers each year.

Observation Tips

The best bet for observers to locate the Sedge Warbler is if they familiarise themselves with the song, then listen carefully in suitable territory.


The Sedge Warbler has a noisy, repetitive song that is a combination of chirrups and chatters. Has a harsh 'tuk' call or a 'chirr', and most singing is performed during the day.
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