Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)

Icterine Warbler

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Acrocephalidae | [latin] Hippolais icterina | [UK] Icterine Warbler | [FR] Contrefaisant icterine | [DE] Gelbspotter | [ES] Zarcero Icterino | [NL] Spotvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Amphilais icterina
Hippolais icterina
Hippolais icterina EU w s AF

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized warbler, with long bill, rather flat crown, long wings, and relatively slim, square tail. Upperparts and wings bright greenish-olive to greenish-brown, with yellowish suffusion or sheen when fresh, altogether brightest and greenest Hippolais.
Like H. polyglotta, basically green above and yellow below but with confusing pale variants. Markings include pale fore-face, distinct yellow supercilium and eye-ring, conspicuous yellow wing-panel, and blue-grey legs. One call diagnostec.
Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Icterine Warbler

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/I/Icterine Warbler.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 24 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : West


Breeds in west Palearctic in middle and upper latitudes, boreal and temperate, mainly continental. Areas occupied are thus cooler than in other Hippolais, even reaching into low arctic.
Mainly in lowland and river valleys, but in Ural climbs far into hills. An arboreal rather than a forest bird, liking sunny but fairly moist places, preferably with glades or along woodland edges. Javours crowns of well-spaced trees with plenty of tall undergrowth.
In north of range occurs in forests of pure birch and in south also in pure oak.


Breeds mid May to mid July in central and north-west Europe, June-July in Finland. Nest site is built in fork or tree or bush, often ornamental or fruit. Usually 1-4 m above ground.
Nest, neat, substantial cup of grasses, roots, moss, and plant down, lined with hair, fine grasses, and roots, often attached to supporting twigs with fine grass loops.
4-5 eggs are laid, incubation 12-16 days. Usually only female incubates, though male reported assisting in middle of day.

Feeding habits

Chiefly insects, also fruit in late summer. Forages restlessly among foliage of trees and bushes, taking insects while perched or will fluttering. Will fly out from ends of branches to capture aerial prey.
Foraging action typically slightly clumsy in comparison with Phylloscopus warblers.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Hippolais icterina is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, except for the
far west and south, with the region constituting >75% of its global breeding range.
Its European breeding population is very large (>3,500,000 pairs), and was stable
between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in some western populations?
most notably in Germany?during 1990-2000, key populations to the east, including
the stronghold in Russia, were stable, and the species probably remained stable overall.
Icterine Warbler status Least Concern


Migratory, entire population wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, chiefly south of equator. Arrives on breeding grounds late, and departs early. Autumn departure late July to early September, with peak passage early August in southern Sweden. Vanguard in spring reaches Malta mid-April; northward passage through Europe mainly late April to early June, arriving northern breeding areas late May.

Distribution map

Icterine Warbler distribution range map

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