Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Phylloscopidae | [latin] Phylloscopus collybita | [UK] Chiffchaff | [FR] Pouillot veloce | [DE] Zilpzalp | [ES] Mosquitero Comun | [NL] Tjiftjaf


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Small, slight but often rather chesty warbler, less graceful and active than Willow Warbler. Plumage variable in color tones and in contrast between upper and underparts: west-central and south-western races (nominate callybita, brehmii, exsul, canariensis) brownish-olive above and dull yellowish below, and lacking contrasting features except for dark bill, pale eye-ring within dull yellow supercilium, and usually dark legs.
Northern and eastern races abietinus, tristis less warm, more olive, cooler brown or even grey above, and less yellow, even strikingly white below.

Listen to the sound of Chiffchaff


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 12 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 14 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : widespread


Breeds in west Palearctic in upper and lower middle latitudes, in continental and oceanic boreal, temperate, and mediterranean climatic zones. Basically a bird of mature lowland woodland with not too dense canopy and fairly copious variety of medium to tallish undergrowth, but may even extend to tree line in mountain woodland or to upper zone of closed forest.


Breeds mid April to mid June in Western Erope. Early May in Central Europe, mid April to May in Spain, late January to June in Canary Islands. Nest site is built on or close to ground concealed in tall vegetation, low bushes, tree branches, or creepers. Nest is a domed structure with side entrance, made of dry grass stems and leaves, moss, and other plant leaves, lined with finer grasses and feathers. 4-7 eggs are laid, incubation 13-15 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Almost wholly insects. Forages mainly high in tree canopy, aslo in bushes and lower down in dense thickets.


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.
Chiffchaff status Least Concern


Most populations migratory; Canary Islands populations sedentary. Western populations winter within and south of breeding areas, eastern populations vacate breeding areas entirely. Winters south to northern Afrotropics, Arabia, and northern India. Within Britain, recoveries provide evidence that some breeding birds remain for winter, and that individuals return to same area in successive winters; also evidence of continental birds wintering in Britain. Autumn movement begins August and is protracted, though termination of passage often masked by overwintering. Spring departure from wintering areas begins in February, with main movement March-April. Migrants reach all south coast observatories in Britain by beginning of March; peak early April in west (where passage heavier and more sustained than in east), not until mid-April in east. Main arrival in Switzerland from mid-March, in mountains from early April. In southern Sweden, passage early April to mid-June, peaking in early May. Further east, movement is later: not before mid-April in Moscow region.

Distribution map

Chiffchaff distribution range map

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