A photo of Willow Warbler on a branch. Its yellow face stands out against a pale blue sky.

Willow Warbler

Phylloscopus trochilus

Key Facts

  • Length: 11-13cm
  • Wingspan: 22cm
  • Weight: 10g
  • Average lifespan: up to 5 years

Willow Warblers are slim, delicate birds of woodland, scrub, parks and gardens. They can be heard singing a melodious, warbling song from amongst the tree canopy.

Willow Warblers are migratory birds, breeding in Europe and migrating to southern Africa for the winter. They are unusual amongst birds in that they moult all their feathers twice a year – once at their breeding grounds and once at their wintering ground. The reason for this is unclear. Like other warblers, they are insectivorous but will eat berries and fruit in autumn.

How to Identify

Willow Warblers are green above and pale yellow below, with an off-white belly and eyebrow stripe. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are both 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

A widespread summer visitor.

How People Can Help

TOver the past 25 years, populations of Willow Warblers have declined, especially in the south of the UK. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and woodland nature reserves sympathetically for Willow Warblers 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?

The Willow Warbler is the most common summer visitor to this country, with more than two million breeding pairs setting up nests for the season.

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