[Authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [group] Old World warblers | [order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Sylvia curruca | [UK] Lesser Whitethroat | [FR] Fauvette babillarde | [DE] Klapper-Grasmucke | [ES] Tallarol xerraire | [NL] Braamsluiper | copyright picture

copyright: E. Roualet

Medium-sized, slim but not strikingly long-tailed warbler, with rather demure appearance and often more secretive behavior than S. communis. Dull grey-brown upperparts and dull white underparts with dusky head and white-edged dusky tail. Usually no contrasting wing-panel. Sexes closely similar, little seasonal variation.

Breeds mainly in middle and upper middle latitudes of west Palearctic, in continental warm temperate, steppe, and boreal zones, largely in lowlands but in Switzerland mainly at 1500-2000 m. Flourishes in habitats intermediate between extensive closed forest and open country, resorting to well-spaced often tall bushes, shrub, hedge row, plantations, well-grown gardens, parks, and similar situations where dense cover well broken with pronounced vertical structure, often facing glades, clearings, or grasslands

Sylvia curruca is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>4,800,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined in a number of countries during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia, Romania and Poland were stable, and trends were stable or increasing across the majority of its European range.

Chiefly invertebrates, also berries in late summer and autumn. Forages mostly in bushes and trees, taking insects from leaves, twigs, and bark. During early morning, forages in upper branches of trees, but during day mostly in middle and lower levels, occasionally on ground.

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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not 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 Mid April to July in North-estW Europe, up to two weeks earlier in Central Europe, Mid May to end June in Finland. Nest site is built in bushes and small trees, and occasionally perennial herbs, especially those with thorns, fine leaves or suckers on trunk, facilitating attachment on nest. Nest is a deep cup of grass and herb stems and leaves, usually with small twigs and rootlets, plus moss and spiders webs and cocoons, lined with finer grass and rootlets, hair, and some plant down. 4-6 eggs, incubation 10-14 days, by both sexes.

All populations migratory, wintering in arid country south of the Sahara from the upper Niger east to Sudan and Eritrea, also in Egypt and Arabia. In autumn, European populations west of c. 30 degrees E take heading between ESE and SSE (reverse in spring), reaching winter quarters via eastern Mediterranean. Thus, in France, not generally encountered west of breeding range. In Britain, departures and arrivals are concentrated on eastern and (especially) southern coasts. Southward movement begins mid-July in Britain, with peak departures from coast at end of August and beginning of September. Switzerland traversed mostly late August to late September. In transit through Israel and Sinai mainly August-October. Reaches western Sudan and Chad from mid-October. Northward movement starts early and is prolonged. Passage through Ethiopia and Eilat (southern Israel) begins late January, continuing to late April or early May. Recorded in southern Turkey from early March, and passage through central Europe late March to May. Peak arrival on south coast of Britain late April to early May, and in Fenno-Scandia and northern Russia not until mid- or late May.