Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff
Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Altai Mountains (48.492609, 87.147366), Xinjiang, elev. 1490 m (4,890 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita breeds British Isles to Siberia, with Siberian Chiffchaff P. c. tristis in Altai Mountains and Tianshan in Xinjiang; also vagrant to coastal China. HABITAT Breeds in open woodlands with ground cover. ID & COMPARISON A dull leaf warbler with very little yellow in plumage. Very similar to Mountain Chiffchaff P. sindianus. Crown, nape, and mantle greyish-brown; in fresh plumage, back and rump show olive tinge and wings and outer tail feathers are edged olive-green. In fresh plumage may show faint greyish wingbar. Long, indistinct, buffish-white supercilium and dark brown eye-stripe. Face, breast, and flanks buffish, lacking yellow; underparts otherwise whitish. Mountain Chiffchaff always lacks green in upperparts, wings, and tail and its white supercilium and throat contrast more with adjacent plumage. Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides has better-defined wingbar, supercilium, and eye-stripe, brighter green upperparts, and whiter underparts. Willow Warbler P. trochilus is more green and yellow and has longer primary projection and different song and call. BARE PARTS Bill, feet black. VOICE Sings weet chu weet from prominent perch. Call a weak, single-note peep. — Craig Brelsford


Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, peep call, Altai Mountains (48.492609, 87.147366), Xinjiang, elev. 1490 m (4,890 ft.), July, by Craig Brelsford (0:28; 5 MB)

THE LEAF WARBLERS OF CHINA has research on most members of Phylloscopus in China. Click any link:

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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