Large-billed Leaf Warbler

Large-billed Leaf Warbler
Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris, Mt. Emei, Sichuan, China, elev. 2390 m (7,840 ft.), June. (Craig Brelsford)
Large-billed Leaf Warbler
Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Mt. Emei, June. (Craig Brelsford)
Large-billed Leaf Warbler
Devouring a mayfly, Mt. Emei. (Craig Brelsford)

Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris breeds in China from northeast Qinghai to southern Shaanxi and western Hubei, also in Chengde Prefecture, Hebei. Winters India, Sri Lanka, and Burma. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Breeds in coniferous and broadleaf forests, usually near streams, between 1800–3700 m (5,910–12,140 ft.); migrants may reach sea level. More often in upper canopy than other leaf warblers, more often along branches as opposed to among foliage, and less active. ID & COMPARISON Large, stocky; recalls Arctic Warbler P. borealis. Note contrastingly dark crown, bill and leg color, and vocalizations. Best distinguished from Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides by very distinctive vocalizations; longer, darker, and slightly hooked bill; and larger size. Has long, yellowish-white supercilium, longer and more striking than Greenish Warbler; darker and broader eye-stripe; stronger mottling on cheeks; often olive-brown tone in wings; and darker-green upperparts and especially crown. Yellowish-white wingbar on greater coverts, fainter or absent wingbar on median coverts. Underparts yellowish-white to greyish-white, often with diffuse greyish streaking on breast sides (like Arctic Warbler). BARE PARTS Feet greyish (some with pinkish hue but generally darker than Arctic Warbler). Lower mandible mainly dark with pale pinkish base; lower mandible of Greenish Warbler orange with dark tip. VOICE Call a tit-like, metallic, two-note dir-tee, with second note higher-pitched, often repeated at two-second intervals; often flicks tail while calling. Musical, fluty, 5-note song, descending in pitch (note 1 highest, notes 4–5 lowest); easily separable from rapid warble of Greenish Warbler and Two-barred Warbler P. plumbeitarsus. — Craig Brelsford


Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris, song, Mt. Emei, Sichuan, China, elev. 2390 m (7,840 ft.), June. (Craig Brelsford)

THE LEAF WARBLERS OF CHINA 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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