Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

Scientific name: Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Did you know: The Reed Warbler, a charming summer visitor to the UK, is a common victim of brood-parasitism by cuckoos, with the cuckoo chick often taking over the entire nest!

What Do Reed Warblers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Reed Warblers are modest yet striking birds, characterised by their warm brown tops and beige undersides. Identifiable by their plain, unstreaked appearance, they are medium-sized warblers with a length of around 13 cm and a wingspan between 17-21 cm. 

Both males and females share a similar look, displaying a pale throat and a subtle, pale stripe in front of their eyes. These birds are more often heard than seen, their distinctive ‘chattering’ song echoing through reedbeds.

Differences Between Male And Female Reed Warblers

Interestingly, male and female Reed Warblers are visually identical, making it a challenge to distinguish between them based solely on appearance. This is a common trait among many warbler species. 

Both sexes share the same warm brown and buff colouring, and young birds tend to have a richer buff colour below.

What Do Reed Warblers Eat?

In their natural habitat, Reed Warblers primarily feed on insects, making them a vital part of the ecosystem. During autumn, their diet diversifies to include berries. This varied diet helps them maintain energy, especially important during their breeding and migration periods.

Where Do Reed Warblers Live? (inc. migration info)

Reed Warblers are summer visitors to the UK, with significant populations in East Anglia and the south coast. Their breeding areas are less common in Scotland and Ireland. They prefer habitats like urban and suburban areas, farmlands, and wetlands – particularly reedbeds. 

Come winter, they migrate to sub-Saharan Africa, returning to the UK around April for the breeding season, which lasts until October.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Reed Warblers)

The Reed Warbler’s song is melodious with rhythmic chattering, often incorporating whistles and mimicry. This song, more even-paced and melodic compared to the Sedge Warbler, is a delightful symphony in reedbeds, a key identifier for these hidden birds.

Fun Reed Warbler Facts (kid friendly)

  • Reed Warblers can weave their nests like a sling between reed stems.
  • They are expert insect catchers, which makes up most of their diet.
  • Reed Warblers are great travellers, flying to Africa and back every year.
  • Cuckoos often lay eggs in Reed Warbler nests, and the Reed Warblers raise them!
  • They have a special ‘chattering’ song that they love to sing from reedbeds.
  • The Reed Warbler is similar to its rare cousins, the marsh and Blyth’s reed warblers.
  • They are known to be monogamous, with both parents caring for their chicks.
  • These birds have been part of the UK landscape for many years, increasing in number in the late 20th century.
  • A Reed Warbler’s nest is built entirely by the female over a week.

Facts About The Reed Warbler

Diet: Insects; berries in autumn.
Bird Family: Warblers
Length: 13 cm
Wingspan: 17-21 cm
Weight: 10-15 g
Scientific Name: Acrocephalus scirpaceus

The Reed Warbler Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

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