Garden warblers are fairly nondescript as warblers go, similar to many other warbler species. But what they lack in appearance is more than made up for in their song - a collection of sweet, musical notes that's remarkably similar to that of a blackcap. It's so similar, in fact, that the two species respect the other's territorial boundaries. Garden warblers breed in the woodlands and hedgerows of Europe and Asia. To prepare for the migratory journey to Africa for the winter, garden warblers eat as many berries as they can, often covering themselves in fruit juice.
Scientific name: Sylvia borin
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Garden warbler distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Year assessed: 2009
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) is a common and widespread typical warbler which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe into western Asia. This small passerine bird is strongly migratory, and moves to central and southern Africa during northern winters. It is fairly common and widespread in England and Wales; in Ireland it is largely confined to the midlands where it breeds on the shores of small lakes.
This is a nondescript bird, 13–14.5 cm long, mainly brown-grey above and whitish below. It has no obvious distinctive features. Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous. It is a species of shady woodlands with ground cover for nesting. The nest is built in low shrub or brambles, and 3–7 eggs are laid.
The Garden Warbler's song (help·info) is a pleasant chattering with many clearer notes like a Blackbird. The song can be confused with that of Blackcap, but is more melodious and lacks the warbling end-phrase found in Blackcap songs. Indeed, despite their dissimilar colour pattern, these two species are probably more closely related to each other than to any other typical warbler (The Sylvia Monograph, A & C Black, London; Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006). The composer Olivier Messiaen, who admired birdsong, used the song of S. borin as basis for his 1971 work La fauvette des jardins, the title being the French name of the species. The beccafico, or fig-eater, a much prized delicacy in Italy, is not as sometimes thought the Garden Warbler but the closely related Orphean Warbler.
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