Wildlife & Nature to See in June : Willow Warbler

Wildlife to See in June : Willow Warbler

© Laurie Campbell: Willow Warbler

© Laurie Campbell: Willow Warbler

The willow warbler is a summer visitor to Britain, between April and September. In fact, out of the various species of warbler in Britain (Garden, Reed, Sedge, Cetti’s, Grasshopper,Wood and Dartford) the willow warbler is the most common, with over two million birds flying over from Africa each year. Despite these large numbers, the willow warbler can be tricky to identify, due to a striking resemblance to the chiffchaff, however the warbler has flesh-coloured legs, whilst chiffchaff legs are dark. A further difference is in their song, the warbler having a superior, musical phrase.

Willow warblers have beautifully subtle colouration, covering a range of browns, greys, olive greens on their backs, white and yellows underneath, with a pale yellow stripe above their eyes. Juveniles can be a brighter shade of yellow. Willow warblers are unusual in that they undergo two full moults per year, once over summer before migration, and another in Africa before returning to Britain. Adults are around 11cm in length (around the size of a Blue Tit). For practise in recognising them, or listen to their song on the RSPB website.

They can generally be found in most woodlands, with a tendency to prefer birch trees, where they feed on insects and berries. Due to a decline in numbers, the willow warbler is now an amber-listed species. The female builds a nest in a domed shape, from leaves and mosses, and then incubates between 4-8 eggs until they hatch after a fortnight. At this point both parents share feeding duties.

Article by Lizzy Dening You can follow Lizzy on Twitter or go to her website