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Birds of the World. Acrocephalus. A-Z of bird genera part 5

Updated on October 14, 2015

Australian Reed warbler.

Taken Victoria, Australia
Taken Victoria, Australia | Source


The genus Acrocephalus contains a group of birds collectively known as the Reed,Marsh and Sedge warblers.There are many species of Reed warblers that occur. They are generally small warblers, and insectivorous. The genus name of Acrocephalus, translates as flat head,which is an apt description for many in this group. The species that breed in the temperate regions tend to be migaratory

** The Eurasian Reed warbler and the Eurasian Sedge warbler have been covered in great detail in my series 'Birds of Europe' here at hub pages.

Moustached warbler.


A look at the species.

Acrocephalus melanpogon, is the Moustached warbler, a species that breeds in southern Europe and southern temperate Asia, with a few occurring in west Africa.The south west European birds tend to be resident while those that breed in south eastern Europe tend to winter in the Mediterranean and the Asiatic race migrates to Arabia and also Pakistan.

The further north in Europe these birds become more scarce but there are records from as far north as Poland and Denmark, where they are classed as rare vagrants as they are in the UK.

It is a species of Upright aquatic vegetation,especially reeds and sedge. It is a medium sized warbler about five and a quarter inches long, and that is slightly larger than the similar Sedge warbler **. The bird has a black crown and the forehead is typically flattened and a prominent eye stripe of a light colour. The ear coverts are grey. The bill strong and pointed. The upper plumage is brown and streaked with black,the under parts are lighter the chin and throat are white.The short rounded tail is often cocked in the manner of a wren. The sexes can not be distinguished in the field.

The diet consists of insects and water snails. The breeding season commences from April. The nest is an untidy structure built in low dense vegetation. The female deposits three to six eggs which are incubated for about fifteen days. There are no current conservation concerns.

Aquatic warbler


Aquatic warbler.

Acrocephalus paludicola, is the Aquatic warbler a species that breeds in temperate eastern Europe and western Asia,which tends to winter in West Africa, It is estimated that half the worlds population winters in swamps in Senegal.

This bird is the rarest and most threatened Passerine bird found on mainland Europe. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature { IUCN }, class the species has being vulnerable, due to loss of habitat,with the exception of a very small population that occurs in western Siberia the breeding is confined to mainland Europe.

This plain but beautiful bird has a heavily streaked brown plumage,with paler under parts with variable streaking and a whitish eye stripe. The bill like the previous species is strong and pointed.

The species breeds in swampy sedge meadows which consist of low vegetation. The nest is composed of reeds and placed in low vegetation on marshy ground or low in a clump of sedge growing in shallow water. The female will lay three to five eggs. The ground colour being brown,but they are heavily marked and spotted with yellow-grey .

Great Reed warbler


Nest and eggs of the Great Reed Warbler.


The Great Reed warbler.

Acrocephalus arundinaceus,is the Great Reed Warbler and as the common name suggests,it is the largest warbler over eight inches in length. It breeds throughout main land Europe and Asia,wintering in sub-Saharan Africa.

The adult has primarily brown upper parts,while the under parts and chin are a paler buff colouring.Typically the forehead is flattened and like many of its congeners the bill is strong and pointed. It is very similar to the Eurasian Reed Warbler **, but the eye stripe is stronger. The sexes can not be distinguished in the field.

Reed beds are the preferred location for nesting purposes. The nest is composed of reeds and is a basket-like structure hung in the reeds. Three to six eggs are deposited in the nest. The female undertakes the task of incubation, a period that lasts for fourteen or fifteen days. The resulting chicks will leave the nest in a further twelve to fourteen days. Many eggs are lost to predators and the eggs may be ejected from the nest by the Cuckoo which will lay her own egg for the female warbler to raise on her behalf.

In common with other warblers this species feeds on a diet of insects, spiders and other invertebrates. Outside the breeding season they will supplement their diet with fruit and berries.

Black-browed Reed warbler

Taken in Central Thailand,.
Taken in Central Thailand,. | Source

The Black browed Reed Warbler

The Black-browed Reed Warbler, Accrocephalus bistrigiceps is a species that occurs in Cambodia,China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,Japan, North and South Korea,Malaysia, Mongolia,Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines,Russia, Singapore ,Thailand and Vietnam.

This species is closely related to the Eurasian Reed Warbler. It is a typical small {five and a quarter inches long}, un-streaked bird with a characteristic conspicuous square-ended eye stripe, above which is a black stripe of the crown,which is separated on either side by a pale crown stripe. The upper plumage is pale brown with darker colouring towards the wing tips and on the tail. The throat and breast are white fading to a buff colour beneath.

They breed in between June and August. They spend the non -breeding season in south and south east Asia.. Although they are listed as Least concern {overall} by the IUCN,local populations are thought to be of some concern due to habitat loss.

African Reed Warbler


African Reed warbler.Acrocephalus baeticus.

The African Reed warbler Acrocephalus baeticus, breeds in much of Africa south of the Sahara and is sometimes considered to be a sub-species of the Eurasian Reed warbler. it is migratory within the continent of Africa.

It is a common species of marsh areas with reeds and sedge.It is a small warbler ,five and a quarter inches long with the upper parts a rich brown, with a whitish eye stripe. The under parts are white running into a rufous tinge on the flanks. The strong pointed bill tends to curve slightly downward on the upper mandible. The bill is dull yellow with a more defined yellow colour at the base. The eyes are brown,the legs are black.

Its diet consists of insects and invertebrates. They breed mainly during the rainy season,June - July in Senegal from September -October in west Sudan and January in central east Africa. It may be as early as February in Zambia. It builds a deep basket nest composed of strips of reed,grasses or sedge,and is lined with finer grasses. It is situated close down in the reeds. The female will lay two to four white eggs. It is not a bird of conservation concern.

There are many sub-species recognized. Acrocephalus baeticatus guiers {Northern Senegal.} A.b.cinnamomeus, occurs in Senegal,Ethiopia, Somali,Sudan and Mozambique.

A.b hallae, occurs in Angola,Zambia,Nambia and Botswana. Ab avicenniae occurs in coastal Sudan,Eritrea,Somali and western Arabia. Ab suahelicus occurs in Tanzania,Mozambique and Natal. and A,b baeticatus occurs in northern Botswana,Natal, eastern and southern Cape province.

Paddyfield Warbler

Taken in Kolkata ,west Bengal India.
Taken in Kolkata ,west Bengal India. | Source

Paddyfield warbler

The Paddyfield warbler, Acrocephalus agricola, is classed as a Marsh warbler. The Manchurian Reed warbler ,A.tangorum, is sometimes included in A.agricola as a sub-species while others regard it as a separate species.

The Paddyfield warbler breeds in temperate central Asia. It is migratory wintering in Pakistan and India. It is a bird of dense vegetation,reeds,rice, besides lakes and marshes. This warbler is about five and a quarter inches long. The plumage varies with the season from rusty to palish buff not streaked upper parts The undersides are whitish. The eye stripe is white. The bill short with a yellowish lower mandible. It has a relatively long tail. They often flick and cock their tail. The sexes are indistinguishable in the field.

It is known to be a regular vagrant to western Europe. They glean insects from reeds but also from the tree canopy. This species also nests low in reeds. Four to five eggs are laid. It is not a bird of current conservation concern.

Blyth's Reed warbler


Blyth's Reed warbler. Acrocephalus dumetorum

Blyth's warbler, Acrocephalus dumetorum, is a species that breeds in temperate Asia and the east of Europe. They winter in India and Sri Lanka where it is commonly met with during the winter months. It is also a rare vagrant to western Europe.

This species has a plain brown back and pale under parts. The chin and throat are whitish. The wings are short and rounded. The bill is relatively long .

It is a bird of scrub land, tall vegetation. It occurs in open country with bushes and other vegetation,woodland and orchards,and sometimes in semi-evergreen forests. they feed on insects supplemented by some berries in autumn.It is a more arboreal species than most members of this genus.

The nest is placed in a bush where the female will deposit four to six eggs. The whole of the non-breeding population is in the Indian sub-continent.

Oriental Reed warbler

Taken in Kolkata , west Bengal, India.
Taken in Kolkata , west Bengal, India. | Source

Oriental Reed warbler

The Oriental Reed warbler, Acrocephalus orientalis, was once classified as a sub-species of the Great reed warbler of western Eurasia. It is a birn about seven and a quarter inches long with brown upper parts with a lighter rump. The under parts are white. They have brown flanks and under tail coverts. Narrow grey streaks on the throat and breast. The eye stripe is dark. There are white tips to the tail feathers. The bill is relatively long,brown above and pinkish below. The legs and feet are grey.

It is found in south-eastern Siberia to north China and they winter in southern Asia,Northern Australia and the Philippines. It is a bird of reed beds,but also coastal marshes,paddyfields,riversides,lakes,estuaries,grassland and scrub. They field on insects and invertebrates including water snails.

The nest is located among reeds over a metre from the ground. The female will deposit two to four eggs,which she will incubate for a period of about twelve to fourteen days. The young are ready to leave the nest in a further ten to fifteen days.

Clamorous Reed warbler


Clamorous reed warbler

Taken in Kokalta, West Bengal India.
Taken in Kokalta, West Bengal India. | Source

Clamorous warbler.

Acrocephalus stentoreus, the Clamorous warbler, is a species that breeds in Egypt eastwards to pakistan,Afghanistan, northern India to south china,south-east Asia to Australia with an endemic race in Sri Lanka. They also occur in New Guinea, Melanesia and the Solomon Islands. There are nine sub species.

The typical species is brown in various shades, the underparts are white,the bill strong and pointed. They have a conspicuous white eye stripe through the eye. The rump has reddish tinge. The flight feathers are dark brown with whitish edges, and the under parts are suffused with white often with a few dark streaks on the chin and throat. Both sexes are similar.

They are skulking birds of dense vegetation , remaining concealed for most of the time. reed beds ,especially those with bushes are favoured where they feed on insects and other invertebrates. They also nest in this location. The nest is a basket-like structure in which the female will deposit three to six eggs. The chicks stay in the nest for about eleven to thirteen days. They are fed by both parents. There are no current conservation concerns.

Acrocephalus that are of conservation concern.

Rimatara Reed Warbler,Acrocephalus rimitarae, is found only in the French Polynesia,and is classed as being vulnerable.

Pitcairn Reed warbler A.vaughani, is endemic to the Pitcairn Islands in the south pacific and is classed as being Endangered.

Henderson Reed Warbler. is found on Henderson island ,part of the Pitcairn Islands and is classed as being vulnerable.

Cook Reed warbler A.kerearako, is endemic to the Cook Islands {south Pacific} and is classed as being Near Threatened.

Cape Verde warbler of the Cape verde Islands in the Atlantic ocean of Western Africa, is classed as being endangered.

Seychelles Warbler. A.seychennisis, found on the Seychelles Islands is classed as being vulnerable.

Rodrigues warbelr. A.roderikanus, is found on the Islands of Rodrigues { Indian Ocean}, and is classed as being Near Threatened.

Seychelles warbler. Is one of the species that is classed as being vulnerable.



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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      hello Devika,

      Thank you. The little birds are indeed very hard to observe for any length of time they are so active. Glad you enjoyed, Best wishes to you.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have seen tiny birds around the yard. Not sure if one of these fir the description. It is not always easy to actually see from a close range. Often these birds spend a few seconds on a tree branch. Interesting hub about such lovely creatures.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb,

      Glad you have got your permission and I expect you will be rewarded with some excellent images. Glad you found the warblers interesting. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      All these lovely little reed warblers are most interesting to me. Now is the season for sparrows for me, and many of them are around the reeds and brushy areas of the outer forests, as well as grassy fields. I have received permission to bird a very good area across the road from the lake, and I was rewarded with a nice example of the Field Sparrow. I expect to see more in this area soon, as winter comes forth.


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