Old World Warblers

Old World Warblers

Warblers

Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla - Male

 

Male Brown Songlark The "Old World Warblers are songbirds that are sometimes referred to as sylviid warblers or true warblers .

 

Distribution / Range

The True Warblers mostly breed in Europe and Asia; and to a lesser extent in Africa.

Most of those occurring in the temperate regions are strongly migratory and travel to Africa or tropical Asia for the winter.

 

Description

Most Warblers have a dull plumage, except some of those that occur in Asia, which have bold markings.

Males and females look alike in most species.

 

Song / Vocalizations

Many of the True Warbler species are excellent singers.

Subalpine Warbler, Sylvia cantillans

 

Garden Warbler Sylvia borinSylviidae

True warblers (or sylviid warblers) and parrotbills.are mostly found in Asia, and to a lesser extent in Africa. Some travel into Europe. One species occurs on the west coast of North America. These small birds have longish tails.

  • Genus Sylvia - typical warblers (c.20 species). Paraphyletic* or contains Parisoma (*Paraphyletic = some, but not all, of the descendants from a common ancestor)

Temperate Eurasian superspecies ("atricapilla-borin group")

Parisoma superspecies

  • Banded Warbler, Parisoma boehmi : Found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania. Occur in dry savanna.

  • Layard's Warbler, Parisoma layardi : Found in Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. Inhabits subtropical or tropical dry shrubland

  • Rufous-vented Warbler, (also known as the Chestnut-vented Warbler or Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler), Parisoma subcaeruleum / Sylvia subcaeruleum. Breeds in southern Africa in Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. It inhabits fynbos, scrub, thickets and dry riverbeds. This common species has a large range, with an estimated extent of 2,800,000 km². Measures about 14-15 cm in length and weighs around 16 g. The upper plumage is grey-brown, and the tail is black with a broad white band at its tip. This warbler has a white eye ring. The throat is grey with heavy dark streaking, the breast and belly are grey, and the vent area is bright chestnut. The legs are black and the eyes are grey. Males and females look alike, but the juvenile has has an unstreaked throat. The call is a loud fluted cheerup-chee-chee. Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Parisoma layardi, is the only similar species, but is paler, has more white in the tail, and lacks the chestnut vent. The Rufous-vented Warbler builds a cup nest flow in vegetation. It pairs for life and is usually seen alone or in pairs. They feed on insects and other small invertebrates.

Lesser Whitethroats curruca clade

  • Brown Warbler, Parisoma lugens

  • Yemen Warbler, Sylvia buryi

    Red Sea Warbler, Sylvia leucomelaena

  • (Western) Orphean Warbler, Sylvia hortensis
    • Eastern Orphean Warbler, Sylvia (hortensis) crassirostris

  • Lesser Whitethroat, Sylvia curruca

  • Hume's Whitethroat, Sylvia althaea

  • Small Whitethroat, Sylvia minula: Found in the dry lowlands of Xinjiang westwards to Turkmenistan and possibly into Iran. Following Gloger's Rule. It's pale and sandy in coloration, with a white throat. ,

    Three subspecies are usually recognized:

    • Sylvia minula munila - includes chuancheica
    • Sylvia minula margelanica
    • Sylvia minula jaxartica

    The latter two might constitute a separate species, Margelanic Whitethroat.

Whitethroat communis-melanocephala assemblage

  • Barred Warbler, Sylvia nisoria - tentatively place here

  • Desert Warblers are typical warblers which consist of two distinctive forms.
    • African Desert Warbler, Sylvia deserti Found n northwest Africa at the fringe of the Sahara Desert. Basic color pale sand
    • Asian Desert Warbler, Sylvia nana Found in south central temperate Asia. This form is migratory, wintering in north easternmost Africa, Arabia and India. It has occurred as a rare vagrant as far west as Great Britain. Basic color gray sand

    This small "warbler" has a sand-colored back and head, whitish underparts and yellow eyes. Males and females look alike. It feeds on insects and berries. The song is a distinctive jingle often given in an advertisement flight. It breeds in semi-desert and other arid environments, as long as some bushes for nesting occur. The nest is built in low shrub, and 4-6 eggs are laid.

    Whitethroat, Sylvia communis

  • Spectacled Warbler, Sylvia conspicillata : Found in north west Africa, southwest Europe from Iberia to Italy, and then further east on the eastern Mediterranean islands and coastal regions, where it inhabits dry open country with bushes. . It is mainly resident in Africa, but other populations migrate to winter in more widely in north and west Africa and Egypt. This bird is a rare vagrant to northern and western Europe. It also occurs in tome Atlantic islands. The subspecies orbitalis has been proposed for those of the Cape Verde Islands. The presumed subspecies for the Madeira birds, bella is today usually included in this taxon, as are the nirds of the Canary Islands, where the species is quite common except on El Hierro and known as zarzalero y ratonero (Álamo Tavio 1975). These are very small "warblers" and are intermediate between Whitethroats and Tristram's Warbler in coloration. Spectacled Warblers are brown above and buff below, with chestnut wing patches and a white throat. Adult males have a grey head and the white eye ring which gives the species its name. Immature birds can be confused with both the Whitethroat and the Subalpine Warbler, and identification is difficult in the field. The song is a fast high warble. About the precise relationships of this bird, not much can be said with certainty. It seems though as if its intermediate appearance, apart from the autapomorphic white eye ring, indicates its relationships reasonably well. It is not the closest living relative of at least Tristram's Warbler though.(Helbig 2001, Jønsson and Fjeldså 2006) 3-6 eggs are laid in a nest in a bush. They mostly feed on insects.

  • Tristram's Warbler, Sylvia deserticola : Found in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, and Western Sahara. This bird species inhabits subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.

  • Dartford Warbler, Sylvia undata : Found in the warmer parts of south west Europe and northwest Africa. Its breeding range lies west of a line from southern England to the heel of Italy. It is a mainly resident breeder, but there is some limited migration. Like many typical warblers, this species has distinct male and female plumages. The male of this small Sylvia has a grey back and head, reddish underparts, and a red eye. The reddish throat is spotted with white. The female is paler below, especially on the throat, and a browner grey below. The song is a distinctive rattling warble. It probably forms a superspecies with Tristram's Warbler and this in turn seems close to Marmora's Warbler and the Balearic Warbler (Helbig 2001, Jønsson and Fjeldså 2006). Altogether, this group of typical warblers bears an uncanny resemblance to the Wrentit, the only species of Sylviidae from the Americas (compare Wrentit with Dartford Warbler photo linked below). Still, the Wrentit is less closely related to the genus Sylvia than to the parrotbills (Cibois 2003, Pasquet 2006). Its visual similarity to the Dartford Warbler group is an astounding example of convergent evolution between birds closely related enough to already share many similarities evolving half a world apart in similar Mediterranean shrub habitat. This small, 13 cm, passerine bird breeds in heathlands often near coasts, with gorse bushes for nesting. Like its relatives, the Dartford Warbler is insectivorous, but will also take berries. The nest is built in low shrub, and 3-6 eggs are laid. Dartford Warblers were named for Dartford Heath in NW Kent, where the population became extinct in the early 20th century. They almost died out in the United Kingdom in the severe winter of 1962-3 when the national population dropped to just 10 pairs. They recovered in some areas but numbers are once again on the decline.

  • Marmora's Warbler, Sylvia sarda: Occurs on Mediterranean islands, typically including Corsica and Sardinia, where they inhabit open country with thorny bushes and heather.. The smaller Balearic Islands subspecies is increasingly given specific status as Balearic Warbler, Sylvia balearica. They are generally resident but some birds migrate south to winter in north Africa. They are rare vagrants to northern and western Europe. These are small, long tailed, large-headed birds, overall very similar to their close relatives in thr Dartford Warbler group. Marmora's Warblers are grey above and below, lacking the brick-red underparts of the Dartford Warbler. Adult males have darker patches on the forehead and between the eye and the pointed bill. The legs and iris are red. The song is a fast rattle. Immature birds can be confused with young Dartford Warblers, which are also grey below, but Marmora's have a paler throat. Their iris is dark. The Balearic Warbler is 20% smaller than the nominate form. It is also paler below, with a pinkish tinge. 3-5 eggs are laid in a nest in a bush. They mostly feed on insects.
    • Balearic Warbler, Sylvia (sarda) balearica

  • Rüppell’s Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli) Rüppell's Warbler, Sylvia rueppelli

    Cyprus Warbler, Sylvia melanothorax

  • (Western) Subalpine Warbler, Sylvia cantillans
    • Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Sylvia (cantillans) albistriata
    • Moltoni's Warbler, Sylvia (cantillans) moltonii

  • Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala
    • Sylvia (melanocephala) momus
    • Fayyum Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala/momus norissae - doubtfully distinct, extinct (c.1940)

  • Menetries' Warbler, Sylvia mystacea
  • Genus Parisoma - paraphyletic* with Sylvia? (*Paraphyletic = some, but not all, of the descendants from a common ancestor)
  • Genus Pseudoalcippe - formerly in Illadopsis (Timaliidae)
    • African Hillbabbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica : Found in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. It lives in subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist montanes, and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland. The distinctive black-headed subspecies is sometimes split as the Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Pseudoalcippe atriceps, but Fry et al. (2000) state it has the same vocalizations and behaviour as other races, and do not give separate species status.
  • Genus Rhopophilus - formerly in Cisticolidae
    • White-browed Chinese Warbler Rhopophilus pekinensis : Found in China, North Korea, and South Korea.
  • Genus Lioparus - formerly in Alcippe (Timaliidae)
    • Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. It lives in temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
  • Genus Paradoxornis - parrotbills (18 species). Formerly in Paradoxornithidae; polyphyletic (derived from more than one ancestral type)
  • Genus Conostoma - formerly in Paradoxornithidae; tentatively placed here
    • Great Parrotbill Conostoma oemodium : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal.
  • Genus Fulvetta - typical fulvettas. Formerly in Alcippe (Timaliidae)
    • Spectacled Fulvetta Fulvetta ruficapilla : Found in China, Laos, and possibly Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.

    • Chinese Fulvetta Fulvetta striaticollis : Found in China and India.

    • White-browed Fulvetta Fulvetta vinipectus : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.

    • Streak-throated Fulvetta Fulvetta cinereiceps (possibly polyphyletic = derived from more than one ancestral type) : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.

    • Ludlow's Fulvetta Fulvetta ludlowi - tentatively placed here: Found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal.
  • Genus Chrysomma - formerly in Timaliidae
    • Yellow-eyed Babbler Chrysomma sinense

    • Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre: Found in South Asia.
      • Myanmar Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre altirostre - extinct (1940s)

    • Rufous-tailed Babbler Chrysomma poecilotis :Endemic to China.
 

To Timaliidae

  • Genus Graminicola
    • Rufous-rumped Grassbird ("-babbler") Graminicola bengalensis: Found in Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.
 

Grey-backed Camaroptera, Camaroptera brevicaudataTo Cisticolidae

  • Genus Bathmocercus - rufous-warblers
    • Black-capped Rufous-warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris: Found in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical swamps, and subtropical or tropical moist montanes. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.
    • Black-faced Rufous-warbler Bathmocercus rufus: Found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes

  • Genus Sceptomycter - sometimes merged into Bathmocercus. Cisticolidae?
    • Mrs Moreau's Warbler Sceptomycter winifredae: Found only in Tanzania. This bird species inhabits subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.

  • Genus Poliolais - Cisticolidae or more basal like bulbuls?
    • White-tailed Warbler Poliolais lopezi
  • Genus Camaroptera
  • Two to 14 of the 15 tailorbirds
 

New family Acrocephalidae

Marsh- and tree warblers or acrocephalid warblers. Found mostly in southern Asia to western Europe and surroundings ranging far into Pacific, some in Africa. Usually rather large "warblers.", The plumage is mostly olivaceous brown above with much yellow to beige below. Frequent open woodland, reedbeds or tall grass.

  • Genus Acrocephalus - marsh-warblers (about 35 species)
  • Genus Hippolais - tree warblers (8 species)
  • Genus Chloropeta - yellow warblers
    • Yellow Flycatcher-warbler Chloropeta natalensis : Found in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and dry shrubland.
    • Mountain Flycatcher-warbler Chloropeta similis : Found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist montanes and moist shrubland.
    • Papyrus Flycatcher-warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris : Found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Its natural habitat is swamps. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.
 

To Malagasy warblers

See Cibois et al. (2001)

  • Genus Thamnornis
    • Thamnornis Thamnornis chloropetoides : Found only in Madagascar. It lives in subtropical or tropical dry forests and dry shrubland.
  • Genus Cryptosylvicola
    • Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi : Found only in Madagascar.
 

New family Megaluridae

Grass warblers and allies or megalurid warblers. Occurs in the Old World and into Australian region, centred around Indian Ocean; possibly also one species in South America. Mid-sized and usually long-tailed species; sometimes boldly patterned but generally drab plumage. Typically forage on the ground.

  • Genus Bradypterus - Megalurid bush-warblers (more than 20 species).
  • Genus Megalurus - typical grassbirds. Probably polyphyletic (derived from more than one ancestral type)
    • Marsh Grassbird Megalurus pryeri : Found in China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and Russia. Its natural habitat is swamps. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.
    • Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis : Found in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.
    • Little Grassbird Megalurus gramineus : Found in Australia and in the Indonesian half of New Guinea.Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris
    • Fly River Grassbird Megalurus albolimbatus : Found in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It lives in freshwater lakes and freshwater marshes. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.
 

New family Cettiidae

Typical bush warblers and relatives or cettiid warblers. Generally drab plumages. Mostly found in shrubland and undergrowth. Occur in continental Asia, and surrounding regions, ranging into Africa and southern Europe.

  • Genus Pholidornis - formerly in Remizidae; tentatively placed here
    • Tit-hylia Pholidornis rushiae : Found in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Uganda. This bird species inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Genus Hylia - tentatively placed here [2]
    • Green Hylia Hylia prasina : Found in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, swamps, moist montane forests, and moist savanna.
  • Genus Abroscopus - Abroscopus warblers
    • Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis: TFound in Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. This bird species inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
    • Yellow-bellied Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. It lives in temperate forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
    • Black-faced Warbler Abroscopus schisticeps : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
  • Genus Erythrocercus - monarch-warblers. Formerly Monarchinae.
    • Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii : Found in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. It lives in subtropical or tropical swamps and moist montanes.
    • Yellow Flycatcher Erythrocercus holochlorus :Found in Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland.
    • Livingstone's Flycatcher Erythrocercus livingstonei : Found in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It lives in subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland.

  • Genus Urosphena - stubtails
    • Timor Stubtail Urosphena subulata : The Timor Stubtail is found in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
      • Babar Stubtail Urosphena subulata advena - extinct (mid-20th century)
    • Bornean Stubtail Urosphena whiteheadi : Found in Indonesia and Malaysia.
    • Asian Stubtail Urosphena squameiceps : The Asian Stubtail is found in China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.
  • Genus Tesia - tesias
    • Chestnut-headed Tesia Tesia castaneocoronata : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes.
    • Javan Tesia Tesia superciliaris : Found only in Indonesia.
    • Slaty-bellied Tesia Tesia olivea : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes.
    • Grey-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. This bird species inhabits subtropical or tropical moist montanes.
    • Russet-capped Tesia Tesia everetti : Found only in Indonesia.
  • Genus Cettia - typical bush-warblers (about 15 species)
  • Genus Tickellia
    • Broad-billed Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni : Found in Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes.
  • Genus Phyllergates
    • Mountain Tailorbird Phyllergates cucullatus : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes.
    • Rufous-headed Tailorbird Phyllergates heterolaemus : Found only in the Philippines. They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes.
 

Aegithalidae

  • Genus Leptopoecile - tit-warblers. Tentatively placed there.
    • White-browed Tit-warbler Leptopoecile sophiae
    • Crested Tit-warbler Leptopoecile elegans : Found in China and possibly India. Inhabit boreal forests.
 

New family Phylloscopidae

Leaf-warblers or phylloscopid warblers. Found in Eurasia, ranging into Wallacea and Africa. Of variable size and often a bright green above and yellow below, or greyish-green to greyish-brown plumage. Catch insects in flight.

  • Genus Phylloscopus - leaf-warblers (c.55 species). Polyphyletic.
  • Genus Seicercus - polyphyletic (derived from more than one ancestral type)
    • Golden-spectacled Warbler Seicercus burkii
      • Grey-crowned Warbler Seicercus (burkii) tephrocephalus
      • Whistler's Warbler Seicercus (burkii) whistleri
      • Bianchi's Warbler Seicercus (burkii) valentini
      Emei Shan Warbler aka Marten's Warbler Seicercus omeiensis : Found in China and Myanmar. It lives in temperate forests and moist montane forests.
    • Plain-tailed Warbler Seicercus soror : Found only in China. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.
    • White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis - paraphyletic* : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montane forests. (*Paraphyletic = some, but not all, of the descendants from a common ancestor)
      • Bar-winged White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus (affinis) intermedius
    • Grey-cheeked Warbler Seicercus poliogenys : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montane forests.
    • Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos : The Grey-Hooded Warbler is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.
    • Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps : Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montane forests.
    • Yellow-breasted Warbler Seicercus montis :Found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It lives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montane forests.
    • Sunda Warbler Seicercus grammiceps : Found only in Indonesia.
 

African Warblers

 

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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