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Lesser Whitethroat  (Sylvia curruca) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)


[order] Passeriformes | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Sylvia curruca | [UK] Lesser Whitethroat | [FR] Fauvette babillarde | [DE] Klappergrasmücke | [ES] Tallarol xerraire | [IT] Bigiarella | [NL] Braamsluiper



spanwidth min.: 17 cm

spanwidth max.: 19 cm

size min.: 12 cm

size max.: 14 cm


incubation min.: 11 days

incubation max.: 14 days

fledging min.: 10 days

fledging max.: 13 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 6


Physical characteristics


Medium-sized, slim but not strikingly long-tailed warbler, with rather demure appearance and often more secretive behavior than S. communis. Dull grey-brown upperparts and dull white underparts with dusky head and white-edged dusky tail. Usually no contrasting wing-panel. Sexes closely similar, little seasonal variation.




Breeds mainly in middle and upper middle latitudes of west Palearctic, in continental warm temperate, steppe, and boreal zones, largely in lowlands but in Switzerland mainly at 1500-2000 m. Flourishes in habitats intermediate between extensive closed forest and open country, resorting to well-spaced often tall bushes, shrub, hedge row, plantations, well-grown gardens, parks, and similar situations where dense cover well broken with pronounced vertical structure, often facing glades, clearings, or grasslands


Other details


Sylvia curruca is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>4,800,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined in a number of countries during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia, Romania and Poland were stable, and trends were stable or increasing across the majority of its European range.




Chiefly invertebrates, also berries in late summer and autumn. Forages mostly in bushes and trees, taking insects from leaves, twigs, and bark. During early morning, forages in upper branches of trees, but during day mostly in middle and lower levels, occasionally on ground.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 9,500,000-16,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Shirihai et al. 2001), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




Breeds Mid April to July in North-estW Europe, up to two weeks earlier in Central Europe, Mid May to end June in Finland. Nest site is built in bushes and small trees, and occasionally perennial herbs, especially those with thorns, fine leaves or suckers on trunk, facilitating attachment on nest. Nest is a deep cup of grass and herb stems and leaves, usually with small twigs and rootlets, plus moss and spiders' webs and cocoons, lined with finer grass and rootlets, hair, and some plant down. 4-6 eggs, incubation 10-14 days, by both sexes.




All populations migratory, wintering in arid country south of the Sahara from the upper Niger east to Sudan and Eritrea, also in Egypt and Arabia. In autumn, European populations west of c. 30°E take heading between ESE and SSE (reverse in spring), reaching winter quarters via eastern Mediterranean. Thus, in France, not generally encountered west of breeding range. In Britain, departures and arrivals are concentrated on eastern and (especially) southern coasts. Southward movement begins mid-July in Britain, with peak departures from coast at end of August and beginning of September. Switzerland traversed mostly late August to late September. In transit through Israel and Sinai mainly August-October. Reaches western Sudan and Chad from mid-October. Northward movement starts early and is prolonged. Passage through Ethiopia and Eilat (southern Israel) begins late January, continuing to late April or early May. Recorded in southern Turkey from early March, and passage through central Europe late March to May. Peak arrival on south coast of Britain late April to early May, and in Fenno-Scandia and northern Russia not until mid- or late May.

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Taken on November 20, 2016