Wood Warbler { Birds of Europe } -a milestone hub

Wood warbler

Originally posted to Flickr  uploaded to commons by Dudubot. The image was taken at Inversnaid Loch Lomond Scotland.
Originally posted to Flickr uploaded to commons by Dudubot. The image was taken at Inversnaid Loch Lomond Scotland. | Source

Introduction

This is a milestone hub, being number 100 in this series. In the series we have reviewed 100 species of European birds which includes a diverse variety of species from the tiniest wren to the largest eagle. Some are rare some are common,but they are all unique in their lifestyles and habits. This bird is no exception and I hope you will find it as interesting as all the others in this series.

The Wood warbler belongs to the order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds} and the family Sylviidae within that order. The genus name of Phylloscopus derives from the Greek phullon meaning a leaf+ skopos indicating a watcher. The specific name of sibilatrix derives from Latin sibilare indicating to whistle.

They have been placed on the Red list of conservation concern in the UK {declines of 50% or over in the last forty years or so.},because of recent declines between 1981 and 2007.as such they have had an Species Action Plan formulated and is currently being implemented on the species behalf. this will attempt to halt and eventually reverse the decline. There are an estimated 6,500 males in summer. {female population unknown}.In Ireland they are Amber listed { declines of between 25-50%}due to its small and localized breeding population. { source BTO}

In Europe they are classed as 2 concern, most in Europe declining.The total European population is estimated between six and ten million pairs. The populations vary from country to country,here are a few selected examples. The Austrian population is estimated at between 50,000-90,000 Breeding pairs {BP}. Belgium 5,300-15,000 BP.Croatia 1,500-2,000 BP. France 100,000-400,000 BP. Germany 320,000-600,000 BP. Russia {the whole of Russia} is between eight and twelve million pairs. Sweden 200,000-250,000 BP. Ukraine 950,000-1,250,000 BP.{ Source Birdlife}

They are birds that breed in Europe and north west Asia and winter in tropical Africa.

The Gaelic name for the bird is Ceileiriche Coille. The Welsh name is Telor y Coed. The Irish name is Ceolaire Coille and the Croatian name is Sumski zuizdak

American yellow warbler

Source

What are Warblers ?

Warblers are mostly smaller than members of the Thrush family {including the Chats} and most of them fall into several new groups,best recognized by their generic names. Locustella warblers {such as the Grasshopper warbler**}, have grasshopper or Cricket like songs,and are very hard to see and identify due to their secretive habits. They have narrow heads,wings with curved edges and long under tail coverts beneath a rounded tail.

Acrocephalus warblers Such as the Reed warbler **,are in the main reed bed birds,with sharp bills,flattish heads,rather long tails and strong feet that allow a good grip on upright stems, Their songs are rich and hurried often with a repetative patterns.

Hippolias warblers are green or pale brown with spike like bills and the wing length is a vital clue to their identity. They have short under tail coverts and square tails and hurried rambling songs.

** This species has already been reviewed in the series.

Sylvia warblers are small, lively, perky,little birds with short bills,often with peaked heads and slim sometimes they have cocked tails. Some have bright coloured eye rings. Their calls are short and harsh but their song is beautifully rich.

Phylloscopic warblers, to which are subject belongs ,are mostly green and yellowish. They are delicate,slipping easily through the foliage and they have softer call notes and distinctive songs.

Other species of warblers-- In North America the warblers are represented by species such as the American Yellow warbler a beautiful little bird that occurs in Canada and most of North America down to South America.

Here we review the Wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix and as usual we commence with a description of the subject under review.

Wood warbler and habitat

Crossley's ID Guide to Britain and Ireland. Richard Crossley.
Crossley's ID Guide to Britain and Ireland. Richard Crossley. | Source

Description of the Wood warbler

At a glance--This species is five inches long and weighs seven to twelve grams. A bright clear green upper side and they have a long yellow stripe over the eye and a black line through the eye. The under side is silky white. the wings are brownish with pale yellow feather edges. Long wing tips often drooped beside the tail.

In More detail-- the upper parts generally are greenish yellow,slightly more greyish on the back., but more yellow on the rump and upper tail coverts.The yellow stripe is prominent over the eye. The sides of the head and neck olive yellow becoming pure light yellow on the throat and crop. The rest of the under parts are pure white,the flanks are washed with a faint olive yellow.

The wings are rather dark greyish brown the outer edges of the inner most secondary feathers are broadly edged with a light greyish yellow,while the rest of the flight feathers are narrowly edged with the same colour as the back. The secondary coverts are broadly edged with the greenish yellow of the upper parts and the smaller wing coverts are a similar colour,whereas parts of the wing are greyish brown.

The tail feathers are greyish brown edged with the same colour as the rump and upper tail coverts, the shafts being a dark reddish brown. The under surfaces of the tail and wing feathers is grey narrowly edged with greyish white.The smaller wing coverts are white the axillaries light yellow.

The bill is brown, the colour being a lighter shade on the edges and at the base of the lower mandible. The iris is dark brown. the feet a flesh brown colour. The female is similar to slightly duller in her colouring but they are difficult to tell apart in the field.

Courtesy of GreeneWild. Standard You Tube license https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syRKFuETIYE

General and historical information.

The Wood warbler reaches our shores later than the Willow Warbler or the Chiffchaff**, usually during mid to late April. It is rarely seen near the coast when on migration. They tend to arrive in dribs and drabs and the last to arrive may be some weeks later than the first and the woods which these birds inhabit are filled gradually over the same period.

The females tend to arrive a week to tn days after the males and they also arrive in slow degrees. As its name suggests, the Wood Warbler is a true occupant of woods,and whether the woods are large or small does not seem to matter to them as long as the general environment is suitable.Wooded banks and hills,such as those found in many parts of Wales seem to be a favourable resort for them,however, other types of woodland situations are also utilized.

Although they seem to favour Oak and Beech woods it is the nature of the undergrowth which is especially important to them. For instance thick tangled undergrowth is not suitable for their nesting requirements, thus in Oak and beech woods the undergrowth tends to be a scarcity,the ground being carpeted with nothing more than moss and decayed leaves which are much more to their liking. The importance of this type of environment was noted in detail in 'The British Warblers' by H E Howard ,1907.--

" I have wrote as to the probable effect on felling timber or the destruction otherwise of a breeding station. I had an interesting experience with some Wood Warblers in this regard. The timber was felled and the undergrowth cleared in a wood some hundred acres in extent,which for many years previously had been left untouched. In the following season,among other Warblers which now found therein a congenial home,some Wood Warblers appeared,and each in due time secured a female,and I believe reared their young successfully."

" The next year two males appeared on the third of may and on the morning of that date were somewhat hostile to each other, but on May 4th and 5th there were no signs of these two males, nor were there any fresh arrivals. On May the 6th the two males again appeared and were unusually restless in their behaviour,wandering from place to place,and when in the same nieghbourhood attacking each other. On May the 7th one bird only was singing and again on May the 8th, but on this latter date the second male was again in evidence pursuing individuals of other species in the immediate vicinity. After that date the two males vanished,and there were no other signs in the wood that year, nor did any individuals remain to breed the following season."

" The behaviour of these two males differed in one important particular from their normal behaviour of the species. They were restless,instead of roaming about within the precincts of the territory, they extended their wanderings, first in one direction ,then in another,and even went as far as seeking out resting places in the opposite end of the large woodland. Something was evidently amiss. A check had somehow been imposed on their normal routine of instinctive activity,and it is my belief that the birds deserted the woodland owing to it having become unsuitable so far as reproduction was concerned."

" The previous season they were there,content to remain in their territories and await the advent of the females. However, a change had since therein taken place in the character of the wood, the open leaf covered spaces, which would have afforded the necessary shelter for the nest were gradually being swallowed up in the jungle of undergrowth and the birds could not do otherwise than retire if they were to have an average chance of rearing offspring."

" There were,moreover, no females present. The responsibility for deserting the wood rested solely on the males who had preceded them, a fact which is of some importance for the males take little in any share in making the nest-so the question is ,how was their decision arrived at? It is more probable that these males were the offspring or the same individuals that nested in the wood the previous season,for instead of passing directly through it,as is customary with birds in search of new breeding grounds, they wandered restlessly about for some days before leaving,evidently expecting to find suitable territories. Hitherto the environment had answered all their requirements,and the true course of their instinctive procedure therefore ran smoothly, but they were now called upon to face an experience which in all probability they had never met with before,and the change compelled them to leave the woodland"

It is my opinion that if it were not for detailed observations such as the one mentioned above, modern day knowledge of species would be much poorer.

** This species has already been reviewed in the series.

Courtesy of Carduelis32. Standard You Tube License. Https;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWvFzxEAKLc

Bird keeping was a popular pastime.

Source

Wood Warbler in captivity.

In the days before it became illegal to keep wild birds { with a few licensed exceptions} bird catchers made a good living from procuring wild birds by any means {usually with nets} and selling them to bird keepers and also to the markets for food. This is part of our avian history and as such the next few paragraphs makes reference to this time.

Butler, 'British Birds with their Nest and eggs' reveals that " As an aviary bird the Wood Warbler would doubtless be interesting,though neither specially remarkable for bright colouring or vocal merit. I should however, expect to find it just as difficult to accustom to the change of diet-as the Willow Warbler. I am of the opinion that the few examples of Phylloscopus which from time to time appear at our bird shows are invariably hand reared,although Swaysland,speaks of them as being easily tamed, and of the present species he notes ' if allowed to fly about the room, its first thought is a selection of a perch,when it has satisfied itself on this point, it will show great expertness in catching flies from off the walls and ceilings,always returning to its favoured perch to eat them'

Butler continues " Possibly my own want of success in keeping the Willow Warbler may have been due to the fact that my birds were captured in July, for it has been asserted that, for some unexplained reason,Warblers become readily accustomed to captivity if caught on arrival in this country than just before the season of their departure. Not having captured any warblers in the spring months I am quite unable to decide this point."

Illustration

Henrick Gronvold-uploaded to Commons via Innotata
Henrick Gronvold-uploaded to Commons via Innotata | Source

Male and female

British Warblers H E Howard. 1907. Courtesy of the BHL
British Warblers H E Howard. 1907. Courtesy of the BHL

Breeding Nest and Eggs.

Once again I turn to the expert knowledge of H.E Howard, 'British Warblers' who made the following observations of Wood Warblers nesting. " As far as my experience goes the female completes the nest without any assistance from her mate. This work takes three to four days to complete, but she does not labour through the day fetching and fixing materials. If she did the nest would be probably completed in a couple of days."

" What happens in this, that at certain times she is seized with an impulse,which may last for fifteen minutes or more,to build,and during that time she devotes the whole of her energy to the task. Flying backwards and forwards to some spot a few yards away from the position selected, she carries leaves at one moment,a piece of decayed grass at at another,fixes them rapidly,and goes in search of more as if the completion of the nest were a matter of utmost importance. Then she ceases suddenly as she commenced and for a while neglects her responsibilities. The periods of activity recur at intervals until the nest is completed. The intermediate time is spent with her mate in search of food and mating."

The nest is somewhat similar to that made by the Chiffchaff,and as a rule is well concealed in a wooded bank or hollow in the ground. As with the Chiffchaff this species spends much of its time in the tree canopy so it is surprising therefore,that both these species of birds and the Willow Warbler nest on the ground. The position of the nest and the materials used are also similar to the choices of those birds, the only difference is the lining is composed of feathers. The nest is domed. The female will deposit five to six eggs,one being laid every twenty four hours until the clutch is complete.

The eggs are incubated for a period of thirteen days or so and the task is carried out by the female. The eggs are white and more or less densely speckled,spotted or blotched with purplish brown and intermixed with various shell spots. The markings are either scattered broadcast, partly confluent,so as to form irregular patches, or are partly collected into a zone towards the larger end.

At birth the young are naked except for a little down and their eye lids are sealed. When the young are hatched the female shows some considerable anxiety,flitting from branch to branch uttering a plaintive note,approaching the nest closely but looking around warily for a long time before entering. When she is frightened off the nest she flutters along the ground to draw attention away from the nest. In the nest the young have a general colour which is similar to that of the adults in spring, but somewhat brighter.

The upper parts incline towards grass green, the yellow throat and upper breast are deep sulphur yellow and the eye stripe is conspicuous. The inner most secondary feathers are broadly margined with yellow. The whole of the under parts are pure white. The upper mandible is horned brown and the lower a yellowish flesh colour.

The immature birds have upper parts slightly lighter and more olive yellow than in the case of the adults in spring. The yellow parts of the head and throat less brighter,but the under parts are similar.

The young are fed a nutritious diet of insects and caterpillars and are ready to leave the nest in a further thirteen days


Eggs of the Wood Warbler

Museum Weisbaden,  Germany
Museum Weisbaden, Germany | Source

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6 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 19 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

aviannovice,

Hi Deb, you are absolutely right on both counts. They are indeed a fascinating group of birds. Best wishes to you.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 19 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Warblers are such gorgeous little birds. To make things really interesting and confusing, there are so MANY of them!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 19 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

DDE,

Hello Devika, this in the one hundreth hub in the species and I think you have commented on all of them. That alone,from a fellow writer is a great honour so I not only thank you for your votes but for your loyalty. Best wishes to you my friend.


DDE profile image

DDE 19 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Wood Warbler is a pretty bird. I like the images. You have given me a perfect write on another different bird. Voted up, interesting and useful.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 19 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

AliciaC

Hi, you are very welcome. I agree with your comment on the images which I have chosen there are some excellent photographers out there. thank you for visiting and for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 19 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for this very detailed description of the wood warbler. The pictures are beautiful!

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