[Authority] Temminck, 1820 | [group] Old World warblers | [order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Sylvia conspicillata | [UK] Spectacled Warbler | [FR] Fauvette a lunettes | [DE] Brillen-Grasmucke | [ES] Curruca tomillera | [NL] Brilgrasmus | copyright picture

copyright: E. Roualet

Small warbler, with short bill, quite high crown, seemingly large head, and short wings. Averages slightly smaller than Subalpine Warbler, with slightly longer bill, shorter wings, and shorter tail. Breeding plumage essentially grey to sandy-brown above, with strikingly orange or cinnamon fringes to wing-feathers, pink below, with white chin and grey throat. Sexes dissimilar, some seasonal variation.

Breeds in lower middle latitudes of west Palearctic, principally in Mediterranean zone, in warm dry lowlands and hilly country. Feeds in short vegetation, along rough stone walls and on ground, flying only low, except early in breeding season. Vegetation on rock outcrops consists of coarse grasses, thistles, small shrubs, prickly pear, and stunted trees.

Sylvia conspicillata is a widespread summer visitor to southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>180,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Trend data were not available for several countries during 1990-2000?including the stronghold population in Spain?but there was no evidence to suggest that the speciess status deteriorated significantly.

Mainly invertebrates but recorded taking fruit in spring and autumn. Invertebrates taken include grasshoppers, larval Lepidoptera, flies, Hymenoptera, small beetles, and spiders, also insect eggs. Fruit includes berries of blackberry, mulberry and Myoporum.

This species has a very 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 mar-June in Malta, mid March to late June in North Africa, March-May in Canary Islands. Nest site is built in low, dense vegetation, matted grass, tussocks, small shrubs, thistles, etc, usually from ground level to 1,5 m. Nest, neat but loosely constructed deep cup of dried grass stems, rootlets, and leaves, often including rag, wool, cobwebs, and paper. 3-5 eggs are laid, incubated for 12-13 dyas, young fledge after 11-12 days.

Varies from migratory to sedentary in different parts of range. Chiefly migratory in southern France, with a few remaining to winter in Camargue- some winter in Murcia (south-east Spain), but migratory elsewhere in Iberia and apparently exclusively a summer visitor to Corsica, Sardinia, and mainland Italy. Some winter sporadically on islands off Italy. Resident on Malta and Cyprus. In north-west Africa, present all year, but some breeding areas entirely vacated. Probably only a minority go beyond northern edge of Sahara. Passage movements inconspicuous within Europe and across African coast, presumably due to relatively low numbers as well as to overflying- no evidence of concentrations. Destination and distance of movement of individual populations little known.