Buff-barred Warbler

Buff-barred Warbler
Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher, 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


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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