Chinese Leaf Warbler

Chinese Leaf Warbler

Chinese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus yunnanensis, Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, September. (Stephan Popp & Xueping Popp)

Chinese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus yunnanensis breeds eastern Qinghai and western Sichuan to southern Gansu and Shaanxi and east to Liaoning; non-breeding Southeast Asia. Very rare vagrant Shanghai. HABITAT Broadleaf forest, usually with slight admixture of coniferous trees; less commonly in predominantly coniferous forest. Mainly between 1000-2800 m (3,280-9,190 ft.), but can range as high as 3200 m (10,500 ft.) and (especially in northeast of range) as low as 200 m (660 ft.). Generally at lower elevations than Gansu Leaf Warbler P. kansuensis. ID & COMPARISON Palest and least boldly marked member of Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Complex. Retains basic pattern of Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus, but crown-stripe paler and less distinct, especially anteriorly; in some individuals it resembles spot on rear crown. Pale olive-grey lateral crown-stripes. Supercilium generally buffish, not yellowish, anteriorly, turning whitish posteriorly. Long, greyish-black eye-stripe is paler and generally lacks hook at rear, being instead square-ended; also lacks pale spot at rear ear coverts, usually present in close relatives. Unique within the complex, lacks dark bar on bases of secondaries, and dark band on greater coverts less contrasting. Structurally, Chinese is slightly larger and slimmer with a longer bill and has a large, less rounded head (like a large-headed Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus). Clearly defined yellowish-white rump and yellowish-white wingbars on median and greater coverts (wingbar on greater coverts is more prominent). BARE PARTS Bill brownish-black with brownish-yellow base to lower mandible. Feet brownish-pink. VOICE Distinctive vocalizations most readily distinguish Chinese Leaf Warbler from close relatives. Song a rolling, monotonous, and prolonged tsridi-tsridi-tsridi often lasting 10-15 seconds. Call or alternative song, heard frequently on breeding grounds, a rapid-fire tueet, each syllable spit out in quick succession before falling in pitch and frequency after a few seconds. Other call, a sharp wit, shorter, sharper, not up-turned, and repeated more quickly than Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti (much softer and even more different from dweet call of Pallas’s Leaf Warbler). — 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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