[order] Passeriformes | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Hippolais icterina | [UK] Icterine Warbler | [FR] Hypolaïs ictérine | [DE] Gelbspötter | [ES] Zarcero Icterino | [IT] Canapino maggiore | [NL] Spotvogel

Spotvogel determination

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Medium-sized warbler, with long bill, rather flat crown, long wings, and relatively slim, square tail. Upperparts and wings bright greenish-olive to greenish-brown, with yellowish suffusion or sheen when fresh, altogether brightest and greenest Hippolais. Like H. polyglotta, basically green above and yellow below but with confusing pale variants. Markings include pale fore-face, distinct yellow supercilium and eye-ring, conspicuous yellow wing-panel, and blue-grey legs. One call diagnostec. Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Breeds in west Palearctic in middle and upper latitudes, boreal and temperate, mainly continental. Areas occupied are thus cooler than in other Hippolais, even reaching into low arctic. Mainly in lowland and river valleys, but in Ural climbs far into hills. An arboreal rather than a forest bird, liking sunny but fairly moist places, preferably with glades or along woodland edges. Javours crowns of well-spaced trees with plenty of tall undergrowth. In north of range occurs in forests of pure birch and in south also in pure oak.

Hippolais icterina is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, except for the far west and south, with the region constituting >75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>3,500,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in some western populations— most notably in Germany—during 1990-2000, key populations to the east, including the stronghold in Russia, were stable, and the species probably remained stable overall.

Chiefly insects, also fruit in late summer. Forages restlessly among foliage of trees and bushes, taking insects while perched or will fluttering. Will fly out from ends of branches to capture aerial prey. Foraging action typically slightly clumsy in comparison with Phylloscopus warblers.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 6,900,000-14,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeds mid May to mid July in central and north-west Europe, June-July in Finland. Nest site is built in fork or tree or bush, often ornamental or fruit. Usually 1-4 m above ground. Nest, neat, substantial cup of grasses, roots, moss, and plant down, lined with hair, fine grasses, and roots, often attached to supporting twigs with fine grass loops. 4-5 eggs are laid, incubation 12-16 days. Usually only female incubates, though male reported assisting in middle of day.

Migratory, entire population wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, chiefly south of equator. Arrives on breeding grounds late, and departs early. Autumn departure late July to early September, with peak passage early August in southern Sweden. Vanguard in spring reaches Malta mid-April; northward passage through Europe mainly late April to early June, arriving northern breeding areas late May.