[order] Passeriformes | [family] Sylviidae | [latin] Sylvia rueppelli | [UK] Ruppells Warbler | [FR] Fauvette de Rüppell | [DE] Maskengrasmücke | [ES] Curruca de Ruppell | [IT] Bigia di Rüppell | [NL] Ruppell-grasmus

Ruppell-grasmus determination

copyright: Eldert Groenewoud

14 cm; wing-span 18-21 cm. Close in size and shape to Whitethroat but with 10% longer bill and proportionately slightly shorter wings and tail; largest of scrub-haunting warblers in Mediterranean region. Medium-sized, robust, and evenly balanced warbler, with quite long bill, quite long and square tail, and general character more like Whitethroat than Sardinian Warbler. ( distinctive, with black forehead and throat divided by white moustachial stripe; rest of plumage grey above with conspicuous pale tertial-fringes and -tips and white-edged black tail; basically cream below with grey flank. ) grey-brown above, buff-cream below, sometimes showing black mottling on throat and pale moustachial stripe but others lack distinctive markings though all and juvenile show conspicuous pale tertial fringes. Eye orange to chestnut, bare ring orange-brown to -red.

Within limited east Mediterranean breeding range, occurs in dry warm climates between July isotherms 25-30°C, minimum average July temperature experienced thus being the highest of any European Sylvia. Habitat consists of dry thorny scrub on rocky slopes or in narrow rock fissures and ravines, or undergrowth of old, open woods of oak or cypress predominantly in mountains, up to 1600 m in Crete.

Sylvia rueppelli breeds almost entirely in Europe, where it is a summer visitor to Greece and Turkey. Its European breeding population is large (>200,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined to some extent in its Turkish stronghold 1990-2000, it remained stable in Greece, and probably underwent only a slight decline overall. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Secure. Accidental in Faeroes, Britain, France, Finland, Rumania, USSR, Italy, Malta, Algeria.

Insects, with some fruit in autumn, mainly under cover

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 410,000-1,200,000 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]

Breeding period in Crete: main laying period 2nd half of April extending into 1st half of May; similar period elsewhere in Greece. Nedt built in thick, often thorny, scrub; 45-75 cm above ground. Nest is a well-built cup of grass leaves and stems and some vegetable down, lined with finer material. Eggs are sub-elliptical, smooth and glossy; white, tinged green or buff, with profuse fine speckling, spotting, and mottling of green, olive, brown, and grey, sometimes with dark cap at broad end, and occasionally with fewer, larger blotches. Clutch: 4-6 eggs which are incubated for about 13 days. (Fledging period not recorded.)

Migratory, entire population moving south to winter mainly in Chad and Sudan. Leaves breeding grounds chiefly late August to September. Comparatively late arrival (from October) in winter quarters suggests birds use intermediate staging-posts. Vacates winter quarters mid-February to late March, with peak passage on North African coast mid- or late March to early April. First arrivals on southern coastlands of Turkey in early or mid-March, but main arrival in south-east Europe late March to early April.

no map available