Buff-barred Warbler

Buff-barred Warbler
Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher, Baihualing (25.305810, 98.796040), Gaoligong Mountains, Yunnan, China, elev. 1690 m (5,550 ft.), February. (Craig Brelsford)

In China, Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher pulcher is in southeast Tibet, western Yunnan, Sichuan, southern Gansu, and southern Shaanxi; and kangrae presumably in Ngari and Shigatse prefectures in Tibet. Non-breeding Yunnan and Southeast Asia. HABITAT Breeds in conifer and rhododendron forests and in scrub above timberline, between 2100–4300 m (6,890–14,110 ft.); in winter to 940 m (3,080 ft.). ID & COMPARISON Usually distinguishable visually from congeners by combination of orange-buff wingbars, prominent on greater coverts, less prominent or absent on median coverts; faint, yellow central crown-stripe, distinct only posteriorly; white outer tail; and pale yellow rump patch. Supercilium yellowish; eye-stripe olive-green. Olive-grey from crown to nape, becoming olive-brown on mantle and scapulars. Broad white tips to tertials (and secondaries when fresh), and olive-green edges to tail and flight feathers. Dirty yellow below, often more greyish on throat, ear coverts, and upper breast. Ssp. kangrae slightly brighter than nominate. Orange-buff wingbars separate Buff-barred Warbler from all other Phylloscopus. Additionally, Gansu Leaf Warbler P. kansuensis, Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti, and Hume’s Leaf Warbler P. humei lack white in tail, with Gansu Leaf Warbler and Sichuan Leaf Warbler having a more prominent central crown-stripe and Hume’s lacking a yellow rump patch. Ashy-throated Warbler P. maculipennis has white supercilium and distinctly grey face, throat, and breast. BARE PARTS Slender bill black with yellow or orange base to lower mandible; feet dark pinkish-brown. VOICE Shrill descending trill lasting 2–3 seconds preceded by one or more call notes, unlike pure trill of Sichuan Treecreeper. Trill of Sichuan Leaf Warbler does not descend in pitch. Alternative song is shorter, slower, sweeter, and only very slightly descending. Call a frequently repeated, sharp zip. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com has research on most members of Phylloscopus in China. Click any link below:

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Buff-barred Warbler P. pulcher
Ashy-throated Warbler P. maculipennis
Hume’s Leaf Warbler P. humei
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus
Chinese Leaf Warbler P. yunnanensis
Lemon-rumped Warbler P. chloronotus
Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti
Gansu Leaf Warbler P. kansuensis
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus
Yellow-streaked Warbler P. armandii
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi
Sulphur-bellied Warbler P. griseolus
Tickell’s Leaf Warbler P. affinis
Smoky Warbler P. fuligiventer
Dusky Warbler P. fuscatus
Buff-throated Warbler P. subaffinis
Willow Warbler P. trochilus
Mountain Chiffchaff P. sindianus
Common Chiffchaff P. collybita
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus
Ijima’s Leaf Warbler P. ijimae
White-spectacled Warbler P. intermedius
Grey-cheeked Warbler P. poliogenys
Green-crowned Warbler P. burkii
Grey-crowned Warbler P. tephrocephalus
Whistler’s Warbler P. whistleri
Bianchi’s Warbler P. valentini
Alström’s Warbler P. soror
Martens’s Warbler P. omeiensis
Two-barred Warbler P. plumbeitarsus
Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides
Emei Leaf Warbler P. emeiensis
Large-billed Leaf Warbler P. magnirostris
Sakhalin Leaf Warbler P. borealoides
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes
Japanese Leaf Warbler P. xanthodryas
Kamchatka Leaf Warbler P. examinandus
Arctic Warbler P. borealis
Chestnut-crowned Warbler P. castaniceps
Limestone Leaf Warbler P. calciatilis
Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti
Yellow-vented Warbler P. cantator
Blyth’s Leaf Warbler P. reguloides
Claudia’s Leaf Warbler P. claudiae
Hartert’s Leaf Warbler P. goodsoni
Kloss’s Leaf Warbler P. ogilviegranti
Hainan Leaf Warbler P. hainanus
Davison’s Leaf Warbler P. davisoni
Grey-hooded Warbler P. xanthoschistos


Use Per Alström’s 40-page presentation on the leaf warblers of China. The document is available in PDF and jpeg:

Presentation on the Identification of Leaf Warblers in China, by Per Alström (PDF version)

Presentation on the Identification of Leaf Warblers in China, by Per Alström (zip folder containing jpegs that can be synced like photos to one’s smartphone)


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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