Whitethroat

Sylvia communis

SUBFAMILY

Sylviinae

TAXONOMY

Sylvia communis Latham, 1787. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common whitethroat, greater whitethroat; French: Fauvette grisette; German: Dorngrasmücke; Spanish: Curruca Zarcera.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.5 in (14 cm); 0.4-0.9 oz (10-24 g). Medium-sized warbler with gray-brown upperparts, whitish underparts, buffy flanks, gray (male) or brownish (female) cap and side of face, and a bright white throat. Folded wing shows significant rufous edging of coverts, secondaries and tertials. Long tail with white outer tail feathers.

DISTRIBUTION

Breeds in Western and Central Europe, southern and coastal Scandinavia, Turkey, North Africa, and Western and Central Siberia. Winters in sub-Saharan Africa.

HABITAT

Open scrubland, farmland and forest edges, with mix of herbaceous and low woody vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

Typically solitary or in pairs. Skulking, but inquisitive. Male song a short, scratchy warble. Territorial. Engages in song-flight display, rising vertically from shrub, then swooping back down.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages in low and mid-height vegetation, gleaning arthropods.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Male builds 'cock nests'. Nest a loose, deep cup of grasses in dense, low, tangled vegetation. Three to six eggs incubated 11-13 days, mostly by female; young brooded and fed by both parents, leave nest after 10-12 days, remain with parents 2-3 weeks.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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