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Quick facts

Common name: wood warbler

Scientific name: Phylloscopus sibilatrix

Family: Sylviidae (warblers and allies)

Habitat: upland oakwoods, deciduous woodland

Diet: insects and spiders

Predators: jays are known to take young from nests

Origin: native

What do wood warblers look like?

The wood warbler is a brightly coloured bird with zesty yellow-green upperparts, darker wings and white underparts. It has a distinctive, bold yellow eye stripe and a broad, short tail. One of the larger warblers, it measures around 12–13cm in length.

Not to be confused with: the willow warbler or the chiffchaff. The wood warbler can be distinguished by the clear division in colour between its yellow breast and white underparts.

Wood warbler with grub in its beak perched on branch

Credit: Chris Grady / Alamy Stock Photo

What do wood warblers eat?

These birds enjoy a diet made up of insects, flies and spiders which they pick from vegetation with their delicate beaks.

How do wood warblers breed?

The breeding season begins in May, when the female builds a dome-shaped nest close to the ground, usually in a shady area of scrub. Five to seven eggs are laid, and chicks fledge when they are around 13 days old.

Wood warbler singing on branch

Credit: Our Wild Life Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Do wood warblers migrate?

Wood warblers migrate to Africa over the winter, arriving back in the UK towards the end of April and leaving again around August time.

Did you know?

The wood warbler’s song has been described as sounding like ‘a spinning coin on a marble slab’.

Where do wood warblers live?

Wood warblers favour upland oak woods, although they can be found in other woodland as long as mature trees are present. They are found in Wales, parts of England and some areas in Scotland and Ireland.

Wood warbler in flight near sessile oak

Credit: Andy Rouse 2020VISION / naturepl.com

Signs and spotting tips

Look out for them from April to August, and listen out for their trilling, rich song high up in the canopy. It is said to sound similar to a coin being spun on a table top, the sound coming in quick succession until slowing to a sudden stop.

Wood warbler song

Audio: Mike Ball / xeno-canto.org

Threats and conservation

The wood warbler is believed to be in decline in the UK and is now a Red List species of conservation concern. It is unclear why the bird is declining, but research is ongoing.