Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)

Melodious Warbler

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Acrocephalidae | [latin] Hippolais polyglotta | [UK] Melodious Warbler | [FR] Contrefaisant polyglotte | [DE] Orpheusspotter | [ES] Zarcero Comun | [NL] Orpheusspotvogel


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Rather small to medium-sized and rather compact warbler, with long bill, (typically) round crown, and short wings; 2nd smallest Hippolais. Closed wing-point forms , of total wing length, with primary tips not reaching end of upper tail-coverts. Plumage as Icterine Warbler (including pale variants) but typically less bright, browner-green above and richer yellow below, with less striking head pattern, only indistinct pale edges to inner flight-feathers, and dull brown legs.

Listen to the sound of Melodious Warbler

[audio: Warbler.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 17 cm wingspan max.: 19 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : Southwest Europe, also Northwest Africa


Breeds mainly in riverain forest, in formerly open areas becoming overgrown with pioneering tamarisk, elm, and white poplar. Advantage is also taken of trees and bushes occurring around cultivation


Breeds in France and Iberia from early May. Usually one brood. Nest is built in fork of branch or twigs of low tree or shrub. From 0.3-5.5 m above ground. Nest is a deep cup, often tapering down into fork, of plant stems and leaves, with plant down and spiders? webs, lined with hair, rootlets, and plant down, and sometimes feathers.
Clutch size varies from 4-5, eggs incubated 12-14 days. Chicks fledge after 11-13 days.

Feeding habits

Chiefly adult and larval insects; fruit taken prior to migration. No detailed information. Feeds restlessly within shrubs and trees, recalling Phylloscopus warblers, carefully examining foliage to pick off insects before moving on abruptly, and darting through branches to snap up passing aerial prey. Like other Hippolais, has almost clumsy foraging action.


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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not 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 polyglotta is a widespread summer visitor to south-western Europe, which
constitutes >75% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
very large (>1,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although most
European populations increased or were stable during 1990-2000, the sizeable
population in France declined, and no trend data were available for the Spanish
Melodious Warbler status Least Concern


Migratory, entire population wintering in West Africa. Widespread throughout woodland savanna north of rain forest, from Gambia and Sierra Leone east to Nigeria and Cameroon.
Birds head mostly south-west initially (reverse in spring) to enter Africa via southern Iberia, where common and widespread at both seasons. Autumn migration begins late July. Passage in Strait of Gibraltar area from late July, mostly August to early September with stragglers continuing well into October. Spring migration begins early but is protracted, with late arrival on breeding grounds. Passage at Gibraltar late March to early June, peaking in May.
In Britain and Ireland, 1958-85, 871 records, of which 94% in autumn (mainly August to mid-October), mostly in south and south-west, and 6% in spring (mainly mid-May to mid-June), mostly in south-east.

Distribution map

Melodious Warbler distribution range map

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