Melodious Warbler

Hippolais polyglotta

13cm

Appearance

The Melodious Warbler is quite burly in comparison to some of its cousins. Its bill is thicker than the Willow Warbler with pale sides, and its face is mostly unmarked, except for a subtle whitish ring around the eye. It lacks the pale wing panels of the Icterine Warbler, its wings don't have the lengthy feather projections and its legs are brownish rather than the Icterine's greyish-blue. The Melodious Warbler is greenish-brown above, the wings are tinged with brown, it is pale yellow underneath and the yellow brightens on the throat and breast. Majority of the birds found in the region are first-autumn birds which have yellowish faces and throats. Juvenile birds resemble pale adults; the yellow of the throat and breast is particularly understated.

Habitat

Prefers to breed in valleys with scrubby foliage; typical habitat includes tamarisks, brambles, oaks and poplars. Migrant visitors frequent headlands at the coast, though will still seek the cover of scrub.

Character

Can be quite a slow mover and can appear less than agile as it picks berries from trees; its belly often appears to be full and protruding. Occasionally darts out of foliage cover to catch insects, but mostly pecks amongst trees and ground cover for food.

Food

Diet includes adult and larval grasshoppers, bugs, flies, beetles, ants, spiders, blackberries, elderberries, cherries and figs.

Breeding

There is no record of the Melodious Warbler breeding in the region. Female lays 4 eggs which she incubates for 12-14 days; both adults tend to the young, which depart the nest at around 13 days old, but don't gain independence until a further 9 days.

Population

Though numbers of the Melodious Warbler are few in the region, with around 30 recorded each year, they are a regular migrant. These birds spend the winter months in West Africa, and head back north in April. Most of the birds seen in the region arrive in August and the beginning of September.

Observation Tips

Winds from the south-east may bring Melodious Warblers to the coasts, particularly the south and southwest coasts of the region; the beginning of September is the most likely time for such sightings.

Voice

Migrants are mostly silent, but they may have a 'tchet' call that is similar to a Sparrow. Birds that remain on their territories have repetitive songs including 'chur-churr' and 'koooeee'.
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