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Warblers and allies

Reed warbler perched on reeds

Image: Kaleel Zibe

‘Old World’ warblers, unrelated to the New World warblers, some of which appear as rare vagrants in the UK. Many species throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

In the UK, they can be separated into several groups – ‘leaf’ warblers are slender and greenish birds of woodland and scrub, with simple soft call notes, while ‘reed’ warbler types are browner and live in wet places, and the ‘Sylvia’ warblers are generally more patterned, prefer woods and bushy places and have short, hard call notes. Most are migrants but two species (plus small numbers of two others) remain in the UK in winter.

Aquatic warbler

The aquatic warbler is a regular but scarce autumn migrant to certain areas in southern Britain, visiting on its way between breeding grounds in eastern Europe and its winter home in West Africa. Its... More...

Aquatic warbler

Blackcap

A distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name 'northern nightingale'. Although primarily a summer visitor b... More...

Blackcap

Cetti's warbler

A small, rather nondescript bird, Cetti's warbler (pronounced chetty) is a skulking bird and can prove very difficult to see. It usually makes its presence known with loud bursts of song and the first... More...

Cetti's warbler

Chiffchaff

A small olive-brown warbler which actively flits through trees and shrubs, with a distinctive tail-wagging movement. Less bright than the similar willow warbler and readily distinguished by its song, ... More...

Chiffchaff

Dartford warbler

This small, dark, long-tailed warbler is resident in the UK and has suffered in the past from severe winters. Its population crashed to a few pairs in the 1960s, since when it has gradually recovered... More...

Dartford warbler

Firecrest

This tiny, restless jewel of a bird vies with the goldcrest for the title of the UK's smallest bird. Compared to the goldcrest, the firecrest is brighter and 'cleaner' looking, with a green back, whit... More...

Firecrest

Garden warbler

A very plain warbler with no distinguishing features (a feature in itself!). It spends a lot of its time in the cover of trees and bushes and can be more difficult to see than its relative, the black... More...

Garden warbler

Goldcrest

With the firecrest, the goldcrest is the UK's smallest bird. They're dull greyish-green with a pale belly and a black and yellow stripe on their heads, which has an orange centre in males. Their thin ... More...

Goldcrest

Grasshopper warbler

The high, insect-like reeling song of the grasshopper warbler is the best clue to its presence. Even when you hear one it can be difficult to locate it due to the ventriloquial effect of its singing. ... More...

Grasshopper warbler

Lesser whitethroat

As the name suggests, this warbler is smaller than its cousin the whitethroat. It sports dark cheek feathers that contrast with the pale throat and can give it a 'masked' look. When its flits from cov... More...

Lesser whitethroat

Marsh warbler

Few people hear this master singer in the UK because of its rarity. Similar-looking to the reed warbler, it is whiter below, more olive above and has pale legs. Like other warblers it is highly active... More...

Marsh warbler

Reed warbler

The reed warbler is a plain unstreaked warbler. It is warm brown above and buff coloured underneath. It is a summer visitor to breed in the UK, with the largest concentrations in East Anglia and along... More...

Reed warbler

Savi's warbler

Savi's warbler is right on the edge of its range here, and its numbers have always been very low and difficult to see in the UK. Like most of this family it is heard before it is seen, with a similar ... More...

Savi's warbler

Sedge warbler

The sedge warbler is a small, quite plump, warbler with a striking broad creamy stripe above its eye, and greyish brown legs. It is brown above with blackish streaks and creamy white underneath. It is... More...

Sedge warbler

Whitethroat

The whitethroat is a medium-sized warbler, about the size of a great tit. It has quite a long tail which it flicks and cocks as it darts rapidly in and out of cover. The male has a grey head, a white ... More...

Whitethroat

Willow warbler

Willow warblers are small birds with grey-green backs and pale under parts. They have a yellow tinged chest and throat and pale supercillium (the stripe above the eye). They are separated from the ver... More...

Willow warbler

Wood warbler

The attractive but unobtrusive wood warbler is the largest Phylloscopus warbler in Europe. It has bright yellow upper parts, throat and upper chest and white under parts. The species is widespread and... More...

Wood warbler