Birds – The Icterine Warbler

Birds – The Icterine Warbler

The Icterine Warbler

The Icterine Warbler male

In this article we will see: “The Icterine Warbler”, birds, diverse and captivating, grace our skies with their melodies. From vibrant plumage to impressive flights, they captivate with endless wonders.

Birds – The Icterine Warbler

Brief Background of: The Icterine Warbler

Length: 13 cm; folded wing: 71-84 mm; wingspan: about 22 cm; tail: 51-56 mm; beak: 13 mm. Weight: 14 g.

Appearance and Behaviour

Adults: Yellowish-green crown and upperparts; flight feathers black-brown bordered with yellowish on the secondaries and tertials; brown-black rectrices; yellow eyebrow and underparts; brown beak; brown-black eyes; slate-gray legs.

In the welcoming shade of groves or hedges, it is not easy to distinguish the Icterine Warbler. Hopping from twigs to branches and from bushes to thickets, the bird rarely strays from its preferred habitats where its olive-green plumage tinged with yellow allows it to elude detection. From the reed warblers, the species has inherited a relatively short neck and the habit of often holding its head in line with the body. However, it differs from the typical warblers with a smaller, straight-cut tail.

Thus, with its dull plumage and instinctive discretion, although it occasionally ventures into open positions, the Icterine Warbler would easily go unnoticed if not for the ardor of its song that gives away its presence. The bird’s song varies in quality among individuals but consists of a multitude of calls, whistles, and babbling, with brief “dede-roid” or “tétéhoi” notes and the syllables “houit…houit…thiouit” being the most commonly used.

The Icterine Warbler

The Icterine Warbler female

The Icterine Warbler's voice sample

There are also some short alarm calls and attempts at mimicry. To live and breed in peace, the Icterine Warbler requires trees, or rather groves, bushy clearings, orchards, and wide hedges. It also does not hesitate to settle in parks, even in the heart of cities, gardens, and near houses.

Food of: The Icterine Warbler

Like its relatives, the Icterine Warbler feeds on insects, their larvae, and spiders, complementing its summer diet with some fruits and berries.


Males arrive earlier than females and establish their territories. Their songs then reach peak frequency and intensity, almost ceasing when it becomes urgent for the pair to build their nest. While the female chooses the site, both partners participate in the construction.

The Icterine Warbler's eggs

The Icterine Warbler’s eggs

The nest is meticulously woven on branches, between 1.10 m and 2.40 m above the ground, using dry grass, small roots, bark fragments, lichens, horsehair, and spiderwebs. The typical clutch consists of 5 eggs, which are laid in the second half of May. The eggs have a pink background, dotted and speckled with black, sometimes with filaments. Average size: 13 x 18 mm; Weight: 1.7 g. The 13-day incubation period is carried out by the female.

Nourished by both adults, the chicks leave the nest at around 2 weeks old, sometimes even earlier, and become independent about ten days later. After the departure of the young, around late June or early July, a few couples may produce a second brood.


As suddenly as they appeared in May, Icterine Warblers leave Europe in August. While some latecomers may still be reported in September, the majority of migrants arrive in equatorial Africa by the end of the month, where the species spends its winter.


The Icterine Warbler breeds from eastern France to the Ural Mountains and from the southwest coast of Scandinavia to the Black Sea. Nesting populations can also be found in the southwest of the Caspian Sea.

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A final word

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