Greenish Warbler

Greenish Warbler
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides obscuratus, Qinghai, China, elev. 2500 m (8,200 ft.), August. (Craig Brelsford)

Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides breeds northeast Europe to central Siberia plus Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. In China, viridanus breeds western Xinjiang; trochiloides southeast Tibet, southern Sichuan, and northwest Yunnan, wintering in Yunnan; and obscuratus eastern Qinghai to southern Gansu and Sichuan, wintering south China from Yunnan to Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Breeds in deciduous and coniferous forests and subalpine rhododendron shrubberies, to 4500 m (14,760 ft.) . Non-breeding in variety of well-wooded lowland habitats. Alone or in pairs in breeding season; non-breeders often in mixed flocks. Active at all levels of forest, from ground and low bushes to canopy. ID & COMPARISON Medium-sized, greenish-grey leaf warbler with one or (rarely) two pale, fine wingbars. Long, distinct, yellowish-white supercilia usually join on forehead. No crown stripe. Off-white underparts with yellow tinge to throat and upper breast. Similar to Large-billed Leaf Warbler P. magnirostris. Best told from Two-barred Warbler P. plumbeitarsus by finer, shorter wingbars (not reaching scapulars), more diffuse than the more clearly demarcated wingbars of Two-barred; also, Two-barred usually shows two wingbars, Greenish one. On average, Two-barred slightly greener above and cleaner white below, has more obvious yellow tone on supercilium and sides of head and throat, and has a slightly thicker bill and darker and more prominent eye-stripe (reaching bill). Greenish Warbler has shorter supercilium behind eye, but it reaches forehead, and loral stripe does not reach base of bill (may form spot in front of eye). Common Chiffchaff P. collybita lacks (or has indistinct buff) wingbar, has less distinct facial pattern, and is greyer on head and mantle. Nominate slightly darker, more often shows a second wingbar, and has darker bill than viridanus. BARE PARTS Bill fine, dark brown above, orange below, with diffuse dark tip; feet brownish to brownish-pink. VOICE Calls throughout year, a sharp, two-note burst, second note higher, reminiscent of White Wagtail or Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Song of viridanus a rapid, melodious warble 3–5 seconds long. Song of trochiloides simpler and less warbling, mainly switching between two or three pitches. Call of Two-barred often appears even more distinctly two-noted, sometimes even trisyllabic; song softer, less staccato. — Craig Brelsford

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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