Chiffchaff by Rob Miller


Phylloscopus collybita

Key Facts

  • Length: 11cm
  • Wingspan: 18cm
  • Weight: 9g
  • Average Lifespan: 2 years

Chiffchaffs are birds of woodland, scrub, parks and gardens.

They sing their name out loud in a simple ‘chiff chaff chiff chaff’ song, performed from the tree canopy. Some Chiffchaffs stay all year-round, but most migrate here from Africa, and are one of the earliest arrivals, singing their hearts out from the end of February onwards.

How to Identify

Chiffchaffs are a dull green above and pale yellow below, with an off-white belly and a short eyebrow stripe. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are very similar, olive-coloured warblers, so are best identified by their song: Chiffchaffs sing ‘chiff chaff chiff chaff’. Willow Warblers have pale legs, while Chiffchaff legs are dark grey.

Where to Find

Widespread, mostly as a summer visitor.

How People Can Help

During the 1960s and 1970s, Chiffchaff numbers sustained losses due to harsh conditions in their African wintering grounds, but numbers have thankfully recovered. The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland and wetland nature reserves sympathetically for Chiffchaffs and other bird species. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you’ll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Did you know?

Chiffchaffs nest on, or close to, the ground, hidden amongst brambles or nettles. Their domed nests are built by the females out of stems and leaves and lined with feathers.

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