Warbler & allies (Sylviidae)

BIRDS / PERCHING BIRDS /

Sylviidae is a family of passerine birds that was part of an assemblage known as the Old World warblers.
Sylviids are small to medium-sized birds. The bill is generally thin and pointed with bristles at the base. Sylviids have a slender shape and an inconspicuous and mostly plain plumage. The wings have ten primaries, which are rounded and short in non-migratory species.

 Typical Warblers (Genus Sylvia)

Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) Male Copyright Peter Drury

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) Male
Copyright Peter Drury

The Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) usually known simply as the blackcap, is a common and widespread typical warbler. It has mainly olive-grey upperparts and pale grey underparts. Both sexes have a neat coloured cap to the head, black in the male and reddish-brown in the female.

The male’s typical song is a rich musical warbling, often ending in a loud high-pitched crescendo. The blackcap’s closest relative is the garden warbler, which looks quite different but has a similar song.

The blackcap breeds in much of Europe, western Asia and northwestern Africa, and its preferred habitat is mature deciduous woodland. The male holds a territory when breeding, which is defended against garden warblers as well as other blackcaps. The nest is a neat cup, built low in brambles or scrub, and the clutch is typically 4–6 mainly buff eggs, which hatch in about 11 days. The chicks fledge in 11–12 days, but are cared for by both adults for some time after leaving the nest.

The blackcap is a partial migrant; birds from the colder areas of its range winter in scrub or trees in northwestern Europe, around the Mediterranean and in tropical Africa. Some German birds have adapted to spending the winter in gardens in Great Britain and Ireland. Insects are the main food in the breeding season, but, for the rest of the year, blackcaps survive primarily on small fruit. Garden birds also eat bread, fat and peanuts in winter.

Where these can be seen: In the bushes along the Hayling Billy Trail.


Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis) Summer Migrant
Whitethroat (Sylvia Communis) Copyright Peter Drury

Whitethroat (Sylvia Communis)
Copyright Peter Drury

The common whitethroat (Sylvia communis) is a common and widespread typical warbler which breeds throughout Europe and across much of temperate western Asia. This small passerine bird is strongly migratory, and winters in tropical Africa, Arabia, and Pakistan.

Both sexes are mainly brown above and buff below, with chestnut fringes to the secondary remiges. The adult male has a grey head and a white throat. The female lacks the grey head, and the throat is duller. The whitethroat’s song is fast and scratchy, with a scolding tone.

This is a bird of open country and cultivation, with bushes for nesting. The nest is built in low shrub or brambles, and 3–7 eggs are laid. Like most warblers, it is insectivorous, but will also eat berries and other soft fruit

Where these can be seen:In the scrub near Hayling Halt car park.

 Sylviidae Gallery