Sardinian Warbler

Sylvia Melanocephala

هازجة سردينيا الرأساء

Status: Very common

The Sardinian Warbler is in the Sylviidae family in the Passerine order. It is 13-14 cm in size and 8.5-16.5 grams in weight. The males are grey with a black head, a red eye ring and white throats while the females and juveniles are brown with grayish heads. Both sexes have white outer tail feathers that are shown usually during flight from bush to bush. The flight is unstable and wavy. The Sardinian Warbler is similar to several other species in the Sylvia family that are relatively small and sticking out their tail often like the Menetries Warbler, the Cyprus Warbler, the Subalpine Warbler and the Spectacled Warbler. The confusion can be mainly among the females that are lacking the contrasting plumage of the males and are less vocal. Like the rest of the Warbler family the Sardinian warbler usually stays hidden deep in the bushes and only its sharp calls give away its presence. The calls are crucial to the identification and the most common one is a rattle of 3-6 syllables that sound like: "chret-tret-tret-tret". The song is a babble that’s unique to the Sylvia warblers and includes repeating rattles and short high-pitched whistles. During the breeding season the males become a lot more obvious as they sing from the top of a bush or while flying as a butterfly around the territory. The Sardinian warbler is one of the most common birds in Palestine. It's usually seen in its natural habitat like Mediterranean scrub but can also be found in privet gardens and city parks. The distribution on the Sardinian Warbler is mainly around the Mediterranean Sea including northern Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East. Some of the populations are migratory and wintering in northern Africa.
There are 2 subspecies in Palestine:
S. m. momus that breeds in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and northern Sinai. It’s a very common breeder in Palestine and also common on passage and in winter. This subspecies is smaller and paler with more oblivious contrast among the black head and grey back of the males.
S. m. melanocephala that breeds in north-west Africa, southern Europe, Greece, Turkey and islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It passes in small numbers through Palestine.

Conservation status – least concern.

According to Birdlife (2013) in most of its distribution the Sardinian Warbler populations are growing in numbers due to the expanding of its natural habitat and its adjustment to breed near human population.

Migratory behaviour: Resident breeder

Sites: Beitillu, Umm at-Tut, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves