Wood Warbler

Phylloscopus sibilatrix

12cm

Appearance

The tail is relatively short, the wings long, and overall the plumage appears vivid and fresh. The sexes are similar; yellowish-green on top, white underneath with a distinctive yellow throat and breast, pinkish-brown legs, yellow strip above the eye and a dark one through it. The flight feathers are edged with yellow, and this creates a yellowish tinge when birds are stationary. The plumage dulls during summer, becoming more grey. Birds in their first winter are slightly less vivid and more brown overall than the adult.

Habitat

The Wood Warbler has a preference for oakwoods with fairly scarce plant life on the ground, and a high canopy; upland territories of this description are ideal. Breeding may also take place in beech woods in the area. When in other parts of Europe, pine, alder and birch are suitable, and winter is spent in forests in Africa.

Character

The Wood Warbler is alert and rarely still, though it lacks the tail-flit of other Warblers. It has a hover-like manoeuvre which it uses to get insects from the underside of leaves. The wings may sag when perched and it has a stunning way of flying, comparable to a butterfly, when displaying. Usually seen alone when not breeding, and moves quickly through branches and cover.

Food

Diet includes insects such as moth caterpillars, spiders, craneflies.

Breeding

Female lays 5-7 eggs which she incubates for 12-14 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart the nest at about 11-13 days old, but continue to be fed for a two or three more days. The brood is occasionally divided between both parents, and sometimes a second brood is raised. Males defend a territory and may attempt to find a second female partner.

Population

This is a summer visitor, and the Wood Warbler holds below 7000 breeding territories in the region, with a maximum of 20 in Ireland. Arriving at the end of April or start of May and departing in July and August, Wood Warblers travel from the region to the south of Europe and on to the Sahara Desert.

Observation Tips

The features of the Wood Warbler's plumage help to separate it from other species. Amidst appropriate wood habitats in spring, the song may give the bird's presence away.

Voice

Has a piercing 'tsip' call and a mellow 'pew-pew'. The Wood Warbler may shiver as it sings, and rarely sings twice in a row from the same perch. The song incorporates 'tsic, tsic' sounds that gather pace into an impressive trill.
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