Thursday, 9 April 2015

Day 157 - Charmingly Chirpy Chiffchaffs

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus coullybita)
Hi all, it's Day 157 and I thought I'd look at a wonderful bird today that I'm hearing a lot of at the moment. I look for them too but they are hard to spot, luckily though I saw one at Nosterfield which was high in a tree singing away in a nice place for me to get a couple of photographs of it. I'm talking today about the lovely Chiffchaff. There was no mistaking this bird as it was singing away very loudly - it really does sound like its name - chiff...chaff, chiff...chaff, chiff...chaff. I'm on the look out too for the Willow Warbler which looks very similar but it's song is very different. I've linked a useful video from the BTO at the end that helps you to know the difference.

As usual I wanted to find out more about these little guys so here's a few facts I found:

  • It's no wonder I found them hard to find and photograph as they only sing in trees more than 5m tall
  • Seems strange then that the females build domed nests close to the ground in tall grass, bushes or climbing plants 
What`s under here?
  • They are a green status bird with over 1.2 million breeding territories across the UK
  • For most of the UK they are a spring and summer visitor, though if you live in the south of England or Ireland you may see them all year as there are around 500-1000 wintering birds in these areas.
  • If they don't stay in the UK they head off to warmer places stretching from the Mediterranean to North Africa to India
  • They are one of the first birds to arrive back from their winter holidays and you can sometimes hear their distinctive song as early as late February but it's usually nearer the middle of March when you first hear them. The first one I heard this year was around a week ago.
  • They are a small leaf warbler, more or less the size of a blue tit, being 10cm long, 18cm wingspan and weighing around 9g.
  • Their latin name Phylloscopus coullybita is interesting. The first bit roughly translates as 'leaf watcher' - from the Greek phullion=a leaf + skopos=a watcher and refers to their eating habits. The second bit comes from kollubistes=money-changer and is based on their song which is sometimes compared to the jingling of money.
It kept flitting around the tree to sing.
  • Sadly they don't live that long only typically 2 years, but the oldest recorded one was 7 years 7 months old.
  • They prefer open woodlands and scrubland but can be found in other habitats
  • Most of their diet is insects picked off trees or caught in flight but they will also eat fruit in the Autumn
  • Warblers have interesting collective names including a fall, a wrench, a confusion or my favourite a bouquet!
Well, I loved looking up these birds and if you want to find out more try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed, 


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