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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Willow Warbler

Hebrides bird sightings -

Willow Warbler

(Willow Wren)

Phylloscopus trochilus

Gaelic: Crionag-ghiuthais

Photography © Andy L
On a Garrabost croft - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
14th August, 2007

David Scholfield sent in a report of a willow warbler in April 2008 which describes the variable nature of the bird:
"Saturday, 19th April.
North Tolsta. Single WILLOW WARBLER in garden this afternoon, 3.30-6.15. Foraging amongst 'Snow in Summer' plants almost non-stop for nearly 3 hours. Although the plant stretches for about 3 yards, height no more than one foot above the ground, it rarely left it during all this time. Behaving more like a wren or a hedge sparrow (dunnock) than a leaf warbler. Weather dull, brisk east wind (force 5?) but that bit of the garden is fairly sheltered."

Summer visitor and passage migrant, breeds locally

  • Willow Warbler
  • Phylloscopus trochilus
  • UK: Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK: 2.1 million pairs (Summer), AMBER LIST BTO
  • WI: Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) and passage visitor (low numbers).
  • Breeds: Domed, feather-lined nest on ground: Northern & temperate Europe (inc Western Isles), Asia
  • Winters: sub-Saharan Africa (most), tropical & South Africa
  • Habitat: Birch or willow open woodland, scrub, shrubby tundra, gardens
  • Diet: Insects, spiders (fruit, berries in autumn)
  • Leaf warbler: Bluetit sized bird, grey-brown greenish back, pale below, yellow tinged-chest & throat, pale supercillium (eyebrow stripe)
  • Listen to a Willow Warbler (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Chiffchaff (different song darkish legs, shorter darker bill, less elegant shape)

The Willow Warbler is the most common UK summer visitor.


Willow Warbler records in the Western Isles

Uncommon Migrant Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs) and passage visitor (low numbers).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


In late-March the first of the male Willow Warblers arrive in the Western Isles to establish their territories, the females follow a couple of weeks later. The majority of the birds arrive in late April or early May, and they stay until early November.

Most of the Western Isles breeding records (singing males) are around Stornway or in plantations, and shelter belts, they like trees!.

Willow Warblers spend winter in West Africa. They set off on their journey back to the UK in late February. The majority of return in each spring to the location in which they were born.


Willow warbler's were 19% below usual productivity in the UK in 2007. This is their worst year on record. The cause is thought to be poor weather in summer. BTO


Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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