Birds – The Willow Warbler

Birds – The Willow Warbler

The Willow Warbler

The Willow Warbler male

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

Birds – The Willow Warbler

Brief Background

Description: Length: 11 cm; folded wing: 51-59 mm; wingspan: 17 cm; tail: 48-52 mm; beak: 11 mm. Weight: 7 g.

Appearance and Behaviour

Adults: Greenish-tinged olive crown, cheeks, and upperparts, with a yellowish eyebrow; flight feathers and tail edged with olive green; underparts whitish tinged with yellow on the chest and undertail coverts; blackish beak; dark brown eyes; brown legs.

Smaller than warblers and less slender, Willow Warblers combine their small size with an unassuming plumage. This is particularly true for the Willow Warbler, whose olive-green upperparts and whitish-yellow underparts blend so well with the dappled light and shadows of foliage that it readily evades observation. However, in its daily life, this bird does not overly concern itself with excessive caution; it flits about on the tips of branches, nervously flicks its tail, hovers briefly in front of a leaf, or slips into a bush.

The Willow Warbler

The Willow Warbler female

The Willow Warbler's voice sample

From these hidden places where the gaze cannot penetrate, the Willow Warbler emits its mechanical, metallic, and repeated notes: “tsip-tsap-tsip-tsap” or “zip-zap-zip-zap,” which have earned it the English name “chiffchaff.” Resounding like coins, these series of calls, delivered in a constant tone and rhythm, are sometimes interrupted by slightly harsher “chirr-chirr” notes.

The Willow Warbler is not strongly attached to a specific habitat; the key for it is to find trees, shrubs, and bushes on its territory that provide food and cover. The bird thrives equally in thick hedges and sparser vegetation. It also favors the edges of large woods, while parks and gardens suit it as long as they retain a wild and tangled corner.


Active among the branches, pecking here and there, the Willow Warbler delights in small insects, their eggs and larvae, as well as spiders. In early autumn, it consumes tender berries, especially those of the elder.


Arriving from migration ahead of the females, the males are tasked with conquering and defending the couple’s territory, as well as finding a mate. This is approximately their only responsibility. The mother alone assumes all the family’s tasks and duties. First, she constructs the nest, assembling moss, twigs, dead leaves, and dry grass to form a ball with a lateral entrance and a well-lined interior of numerous feathers.

The Willow Warbler's eggs

The Willow Warbler’s eggs

Whether placed on the ground, hung in a bramble, nestled in ivy, or perched in a young fir tree, the nest is always well camouflaged. The first clutch, consisting of six eggs, begins in late April and extends into May. The eggs have a shiny white background speckled with reddish-brown, especially around the larger end. Average measurements: 12 x 15 mm; weight: 1 g. The female alone incubates the eggs for two weeks. The young, fed by the mother and occasionally by the father, leave the nest at the age of 14 days and become independent seven days later. A second clutch is laid in late June or July.

Migration of: The Willow Warbler

By August, Willow Warblers are already heading south. By the early days of November, they have disappeared, except in southern regions of Europe where migrants from the north mingle with local residents. As nocturnal travelers, Willow Warblers spend the winter from southern Spain to equatorial North Africa.

Distribution of: The Willow Warbler

As different subspecies, Willow Warblers breed throughout Europe except in northern Scandinavia, The distribution of Willow Warblers extends to Siberia.

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A final word

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