[Authority] Boddaert, 1783 | [group] Old World warblers | [order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Sylvia borin | [UK] Garden Warbler | [FR] Fauvette des jardins | [DE] Garten-Grasmucke | [ES] Curruca Mosquitera | [NL] Tuinfluiter | copyright picture

Medium-siaed to large warbler, with rather stubby bill, somewhat domed head, plump body, rather long wings, and full but not long tail. Plumage plain dull brown above and pale buff below, lacks any prominent character but dark eye emphasized by short pale buff to greyish fore-supercilium and eye-ring. Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Breeds in middle and upper middle latitudes of west Palearctic in continental and marginally oceanic, mainly temperate climate. Preference for shrubby clusters of green alder, lower levels in shady broad-leaved scrub often moist and by water, although sometimes in copses of warm dry soils. Avoids pure coniferous stands, dense plantations, and towns, and occurs only occasionally in gardens and parks.

Sylvia borin is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which constitutes >75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is extremely large (>17,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in France during 1990-2000, other key populations in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Romania and Russia were stable, and the species probably remained stable overall.

Chiefly insects in breeding season, mainly plant material at other times. Searches vegetation to pick insects from foliage and twigs, sometimes hovering or sallying out to catch flying insects.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeds March-July in North-West Europe, April to mid July in West Germany, end May to second half of July in Finland. Nest site is built in low tree or bush or tall herbs. Nest, substantial cup, loosely constructed on outside and underneath, of grass and herb stems and leaves, with some twigs and roots, up to 30 cm long, plus a little plant down and cobwebs, lined with finer grasses and rootlets and long hair. 4-5 eggs are laid, incubation, 11-12 dayas, by both sexes, but male only during daylight hours and then less than female.

All populations migratory, wintering extensively in Africa south of c. 10 degrees N in west and 3 degrees N in east, south to South Africa. Within Europe, autumn heading chiefly south to south-west (and reverse in spring): to Iberia from western and central Europe (including Britain and western Scandinavia), to Italy from Finland and north-east Europe. Prolonged migration at both seasons. In Britain, movement south begins mid-July, larger number leaving from mid-August, with peak (including drifted continental birds) early September at eastern observatories, but later in west. Passage through Switzerland chiefly August, adults continuing to mid-September, juveniles markedly later, to mid-October. Prolonged passage early August to early November (mostly late August to early October) on Malta. Arrives in northern parts of winter quarters from mid-September, in southern Africa not until December. Leaves winter quarters from February. Passage through Mediterranean area mainly in early May- arrival at breeding grounds also mainly early May in south and central Europe, late May or early June in north.