Speckled Reed Warbler

Breeding locations of Speckled Reed Warbler Acrocephalus sorghophilus a mystery; probably in wetlands in Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, as well as in Russian Far East. Winters in the Philippines, mainly Luzon. Listed as vulnerable mainly because of destruction of marshland on Luzon. The only streaked Acrocephalus in eastern China. Very similar to sedge warbler, which breeds in Xinjiang and is an unlikely vagrant to eastern China; but as speckled reed warbler is so rare, birders viewing a possible speckled reed should first determine whether it’s a sedge. Has bold head pattern, characterized by long, broad, sandy supercilium bordered above by a black crown-stripe. Crown, nape, mantle, and scapulars sandy brown, with fine blackish streaking (absent on nape). Rump and uppertail coverts reddish-brown and unstreaked; tail reddish-brown. Blackish centers to tertials and wing coverts contrast with paler fringes. Underparts mainly buffish-white, with cleaner white chin, throat, and undertail coverts and buffier flanks. Sedge warbler larger, has weaker streaking on mantle and stronger streaking on crown, and is darker above. Black-browed reed warbler lacks streaking and has darker, browner, and less contrasting upperparts. Bill brown above, yellow below; feet grey. Song typical of genus, similar to that of Oriental reed warbler, but quieter. — 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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