Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Scientific name: Phylloscopus trochilus

Did you know: The Willow Warbler, a delicate and melodious bird, is known to change all its feathers twice a year, a rare trait among birds!

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

Willow Warblers are delightful, petite birds, easily recognised by their grey-green backs and soft underparts. They boast a subtly yellow-tinged chest and throat, and their eyes are adorned with a pale stripe, known as a supercilium. These charming birds are often confused with the Chiffchaff, but their distinctive song sets them apart. 

Over the past 25 years, the Willow Warbler population in southern Britain has seen a moderate decline, placing them on the Amber List of conservation.

Differences Between Male And Female Willow Warblers

Male and female Willow Warblers are quite similar in appearance, making it a challenge to differentiate between them based solely on looks. However, subtle variations in their plumage and behaviours during the breeding season can sometimes offer clues.

What Do Willow Warblers Eat?

These birds have a diverse diet, mainly consisting of small insects and spiders. Come autumn, they shift their preference to fruits and berries. This varied diet reflects their adaptability to different seasonal offerings.

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

Willow Warblers thrive in open woodlands, particularly favouring areas with birch, alder, and willow trees. They build their nests close to the ground, in dense vegetation. These birds are incredibly migratory, spending winters in sub-Saharan Africa and returning to Europe for breeding. 

Their migration is one of the longest for birds their size, showcasing their remarkable endurance.

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

The Willow Warbler’s song is a defining characteristic, a gentle descending whistle that distinguishes it from the Chiffchaff. Their call is a two-toned ‘hoo-eet’, contrasting the Chiffchaff’s more singular ‘hweet’.

Fun Willow Warbler Facts (kid friendly)

  • Willow Warblers can travel up to 12,000 km from Siberia to Africa, one of the longest migrations for a bird of their size.
  • They prefer habitats with birch, alder, and willow trees, often near water.
  • These birds are one of the first warblers to return to northern Europe in spring.
  • The Willow Warbler can be confused with the Chiffchaff, but its song and lighter legs help identify it.
  • They build dome-shaped nests close to the ground, laying tiny eggs that weigh as much as a penny.

Facts About The Willow Warbler

Diet: A wide variety of small insects and spiders. Fruit and berries in autumn.
Bird Family: Warblers
Length: 10.5-11.5cm
Wingspan: 16-22cm
Weight: 7-12g
Scientific Name: Phylloscopus trochilus

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

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October