Sylvia melanocephala Gmelin, 1789 ♂
Common names : Sardinian Warbler [En], Fauvette mélanocéphale [Fr], Kleine zwartkop [Nl], Samtkopfgrasmücke [De], Occhiocotto [It], Curruca Cabecinegra [Es], Μαυροτσιροβάκος [Gr], Küçük Karabaşlı Ötleğen, Maskeli Ötleğen, Maskeli Ötleşen [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Lefkos, KARPATHOS ● Greece
Description: Like most Sylvia species, it has distinct male and female plumages. The adult male has a grey back, whitish underparts, black head, white throat and red eyes. Plumages are somewhat variable even in the same locality, with the intensity of a reddish hue on upper- and/or underside varies from absent to (in some subspecies) pronounced. The female is mainly brown above and buff below, with a grey head.
The Sardinian Warbler's song is fast and rattling, and is very characteristic of the Mediterranean areas where this bird breeds.
Habitat: This is a bird of open country and cultivation, with bushes for nesting. The nest is built in low shrub or brambles, and 3-6 eggs are laid. Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous, but will also take berries and other soft fruit.
Distribution: Native from Southern and Central Europe, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, North Africa. Vagrant in Northern Europe. It breeds in the southernmost areas of Europe and just into Asia in Turkey and the eastern end of the Mediterranean. This small passerine bird, unlike most "warblers", is not particularly migratory, but some birds winter in north Africa, and it occurs as a vagrant well away from the breeding range, as far as Great Britain.
• S. m. melanocephala Gmelin, 1789: Iberia across the northern Mediterranean to western Turkey. Extends into the Maghreb from Iberia, and into Libya from Italy via Sicily. Migrates to the Sahel and oases in the Sahara in winter. Large, long wings, tail tip rather pointed. A dark form, usually lacking any reddish in males but flanks extensively grey. Females' uppersides vary between deep olive brown and greyish olive.
• S. m. leucogastra Ledru, 1810 - often included in melanocephala; phylogenetic status requires review: Canary Islands, resident, probably some vagrancy between eastern islands and Maghreb. Medium size, short-winged and large-billed. Tenerife and La Palma (western) birds are most distinct, being dark above with some rusty/beige hue on the underside in males. Eastern birds (Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria) are more like melanocephala and momus but differ in measurements.
• S. m. momus Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833: Near East. Resident, some local movements. Smallish, short-winged. Varies between brownish grey and rusty above; underside almost always has reddish hue. Females rusty to rusty olive.
• S. m. norissae Nicoll, 1917, Fayyum Warbler – probably only a local morph of momus: Nile Delta region. Extinct since around 1940. Like momus, but tend to be very reddish.
• Sylvia melanocephala valverdei Cabot & Urdiales, 2005 – recently split from melanocephala: from Tiznit (Morocco) south to the Tropic of Cancer, inland to the edge of the Sahara. Resident, but some seasonal movements. Medium-sized, tail tip quite square. A very pure-colored form, the palest subspecies. Undersides clean white. Matte black cap in males. Juveniles decidedly sandy.
Wikipedia, Sardinian Warbler
IUCN Red List