What’s a warbler anyway?

Over the last few months I’ve got to learn a little about the birds we call warblers. It was always a joke between Mrs Sciencebase and myself, if we heard a tweet we didn’t recognise one of us would proclaim “warbler!” and we’d move on…

Well, it turns out that a lot of the time we were right without knowing it. I’ve snapped a few of them and we’ve definitely heard the grasshopper warbler (at RSPB Folwmere) but don’t think we’ve seen it.

Cetti’s warbler – WWT Welney

Sedge warbler – RSPB North Warren, Fen Drayton Lakes, Ouse Washes

Reed warbler – RSPB Fen Drayton, Ouse Washes

Common whitethroat – RSPB Bempton Cliffs, South Cambs

Lesser whitethroat – Rampton, S Cambs

Blackcap – RSPB Minsmere, Rampton, Cottenham, elsewhere

Willow warbler – Rampton, Cottenham, elsewhere

Chiffchaff – Almost ubiquitous this summer

Grasshopper warbler – heard at RSPB Fowlmere

Marsh warbler – yet to positively ID

Garden warbler – ditto

Pallas’s warbler – ditto

Wood warbler – ditto

Yellow-browed warbler – ditto

Icterine warbler – ditto

Melodious warbler – ditto

Dartford warbler – ditto

Barred warbler – ditto

The term warbler applies to some distinct species as you can see, it’s more of an umbrella term for perching (passerine) birds that share characteristics, such as being fairly small, vocal, and insectivorous.