Dartford Warbler

Sylvia undata

12.5cm

Appearance

The Dartford Warbler has dark, smallish wings, a narrow, longish tail and a big head with a dome-shape. The sexes differ. Males are a deep brownish grey on top and reddish underneath; they have white bellies, dark grey heads and a reddish eye-ring. There are white dots on the throat, the eye is red and the legs are yellowish tinged with pink. Females resemble males, but they are more pale and browner. Juveniles are similar to females, but the back has a slight reddish tinge and it is more buffish below.

Habitat

When in the region, dry areas of heath, and territory with gorse and heather are ideal for the Dartford Warbler.

Character

Is usually of quite timid character, however it will sometimes sing from open perches, particularly on the branches of low foliage. When flying, the wings flit and it sits lows in the air, moving beneath the branches of bushes. When stationary, the tail wags and moves above its back, and there's a suggestion of a crest on the feathers on the head. Juveniles may form groups based on the location of their territories.

Food

Diets includes spiders and small beetles, caterpillars and flies; may also eat berries during the autumn.

Breeding

Nesting usually starts in April; the female lays between 3 and 5 eggs, which she incubates for 12-14 days. Both parents tend to the young, which depart nests after about 12 days, gaining independence another 10-15 days after that.

Population

This is a resident bird, and many adults stay on the same territory throughout the year. Juvenile birds move away from where they were born, and may even migrate during the autumn. Breeding territories in the region exceed 3000, and while numbers of birds vary each year, it's though that more than 1000 pairs breed in majority of years.

Observation Tips

The Dartford Warbler is a protected species, so observers must take this into account; birds are not to be disturbed at the nest. Spring is the prime time for viewing these birds; it is not uncommon for males to sing from visible perches during spring, as they lay claim to territory.

Voice

Has a 'tchrr-tche' call and a song that is abrasive and quick, occasionally given in flight.
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