Saturday, 2 February 2013

Chiffchaff

order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Sylviidae     Family : Phylloscopus collybita

One of the first migrants to appear in northern Europe, the chiffchaff arrives in early spring. The male broadcasts his presence by singing heartily from treetops. With its tiny lightweight body, slender toes and narrow beak, the chiffchaff is adept at foraging for insects beyond the reach of many birds. They breeds in woodlands in Europe, Central Asia and Siberia, as far as the Arctic Circle; winters in southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and India. 

Habitat : The chiffchaff is a bird of woodlands, but is often found in large, wooded gardens and even in hedgerows studded with tall trees. Like other leaf warblers, it is most at home in tree canopies or among tangles of vegetation and rarely alights in the open. If there is enough cover, the chiffchaff sometimes feeds in low shrubs, but it only breeds where there are trees the male may use as singing posts. The chiffchaff arrives in northern European woodlands so early that it often sets up its breeding territories before the trees are fully in leaf. 
Food & Hunting : The chiffchaff feeds mainly on insects and times its arrival at its breeding grounds to take full advantage of the spring boom in invertebrates. The hunt involves hours of nonstop activity as the bird flits from tree to tree, inspecting leaves, buds and twigs for caterpillars and adult insects. Like most of its relatives, the chiffchaff specializes in picking insects off plants and rarely catches them in midair.The chiffchaff has been seen feeding on nectar from flowers and, in its winter quarters, sometimes eats fruit and berries. 
Behavior : Solitary during winter and migration, the chiffchaff rarely flocks and only appears with others during breeding. But the bird communicates with other chiffchaffs nearby through calls — often to warn of danger. Like many birds, both sexes of chiffchaff share a repertoire of simple one-note calls. In addition, the male sings to announce that he has claimed a territory and to invite females into it to mate. His song, from which the chiffchaff takes its name, consists of a repetitive and random sequence of two notes, the second note being a lower pitch than the first. 
Breeding : Solitary during winter and migration, the chiffchaff rarely flocks and only appears with others during breeding. But the bird communicates with other chiffchaffs nearby through calls — often to warn of danger. Like many birds, both sexes of chiffchaff share a repertoire of simple one-note calls. In addition, the male sings to announce that he has claimed a territory and to invite females into it to mate. His song, from which the chiffchaff takes its name, consists of a repetitive and random sequence of two notes, the second note being a lower pitch than the first. 


Bill : The bill ends in a sharp point and is small enough to permit the chiffchaff to pick up minute insects one by one. 
Plumage : Olive-brown coloring enables the chiffchaff to hide among twigs and leaves.The bird is easiest to see in early spring, when it is often silhouetted in the bare treetops. 
Legs & Feet : The chiffchaff’s legs splay out at an angle to steady it as it feeds. Like other songbirds, it has toes that curl around twigs for greater stability when it perches. 
Wings : Small wings enable the chiffchaff to fly and hover in thick foliage while hunting for insects. 
Tail : The chiffchaff flicks and fans its tail for balance as it maneuvers through dense vegetation. 


Weight : 0.21–0.35 oz.
Length : 4-4.4"
Wingspan : 6-8.5"
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : April to July 


The wood mouse is a chiffchaff enemy. In places where it’s common, the mouse can destroy over three-quarters of chiffchaff nests, eating eggs and nestlings.