Phylloscopus collybita collybita Vieillot, 1817
Common names: Common chiffchaff, Chiffchaff [En], Pouillot véloce [Fr], Tjiftjaf [Nl], Zilpzalp [De], Luì piccolo [It], Mosquitero común [Es], Δενδροφυλλοσκόπος [Gr], Μουγιαννούδι [Gr Cypriot], Bayağı çıvgın [Tu]
IUCN Status : LC (Least Concern)
Harchies, HAINAUT ● Belgium
Description: This common and widespread leaf warbler is small, dumpy, 10–12 centimetres long leaf warbler. The spring adult of the western nominate subspecies P. c. collybita has brown-washed dull green upperparts, off-white underparts becoming yellowish on the flanks, and a short whitish supercilium. It has dark legs, a fine dark bill, and short primary projection (extension of the flight feathers beyond the folded wing). As the plumage wears, it gets duller and browner, and the yellow on the flanks tends to be lost.
The newly fledged juvenile is browner above than the adult, with yellow-white underparts.
When not singing, the common chiffchaff can be difficult to distinguish from other leaf warblers with greenish upperparts and whitish underparts, particularly the willow warbler. However, that species has a longer primary projection, a sleeker, brighter appearance and generally pale legs.
The common chiffchaff has six still commonly accepted subspecies:
• P. c. collybita Vieillot, 1817 – Europe, east to Poland and Bulgaria, winters in the south around the Mediterranean.
• P. c. abietinus Nilsson, 1819 – Scandinavia and northern Russia, winters in southeastern Europe, northeastern Africa or to Iraq and western Iran – intermediate in appearance between P. c. tristis and P. c. collybita, grey-washed olive-green above with a pale yellow supercilium, and underparts whiter than in P. c. collybita.
• P. c. brevirostris Strickland, 1837 – Highlands of w Turkey and Black Sea coastlands of n Turkey
• P. c. caucasicus Loskot, 1991 – East of range of brevirostris at lower elevations south to Armenia
• P. c. menzbieri Shestoperov, 1937 – Mts. of ne Iran, e Elburz and Khorasan Mts. n to adj. Turkmenia
• P. c. tristis Blyth, 1843 – Siberia, winters in the lower Himalayas, also regularly recorded in western Europe in winter – dull subspecies, grey or brownish above and whitish below, with little yellow in the plumage. The status of the Siberian form tristis, which shares potentially synapomorphic characters with the Mountain Chiffchaff (ascending song notes, grey‐brown adult plumage) but genetically closely resembles P. c. collybita and P. c. abietinus, remains uncertain.
Biology: This warbler gets its name from its simple distinctive song, a repetitive cheerful chiff-chaff. This song is one of the first avian signs that spring has returned.
Like most Old World warblers, this small species is insectivorous, moving restlessly though foliage or briefly hovering. It has been recorded as taking insects, mainly flies, from more than 50 families, along with other small and medium-sized invertebrates. It will take the eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths, particularly those of the winter moth. The chiffchaff has been estimated to require about one-third of its weight in insects daily, and it feeds almost continuously in the autumn to put on extra fat as fuel for the long migration flight.
The male common chiffchaff returns to its breeding territory two or three weeks before the female and immediately starts singing to establish ownership and attract a female. When a female is located, the male will use a slow butterfly-like flight as part of the courtship ritual, but once a pair-bond has been established, other females will be driven from the territory. The male has little involvement in the nesting process but it is highly territorial during the breeding season, inquisitive and fearless, attacking even dangerous predators. The female's nest is built on or near the ground in a concealed site in brambles, nettles or other dense low vegetation. The domed nest has a side entrance, and is constructed from coarse plant material such as dead leaves and grass.
The clutch is two to seven (normally five or six) cream-coloured eggs. They are incubated by the female for 13–14 days before hatching as naked, blind altricial chicks. The female broods and feeds the chicks for another 14–15 days until they fledge. The male rarely participates in feeding. After fledging, the young stay in the vicinity of the nest for three to four weeks.
Habitat: When breeding, it is a bird of open woodlands with some taller trees and ground cover for nesting purposes. These trees are typically at least 5 metres high, with undergrowth that is an open, poor to medium mix of grasses, bracken, nettles or similar plants. In winter, the common chiffchaff uses a wider range of habitats including scrub, and is not so dependent on trees.
Distribution: The common chiffchaff breeds across Europe and Asia east to eastern Siberia and north to about 70°N, with isolated populations in northwest Africa, northern and western Turkey and northwestern Iran. It is migratory, but it is one of the first passerine birds to return to its breeding areas in the spring and among the last to leave in late autumn.
Wikipedia, Common chiffchaff