Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Arabian Warbler (Sylvia leucomelaena)


French: Fauvette d’Arabie German: Akaziengrasmücke Spanish: Curruca árabe
Other common names: Red Sea Warbler

Curruca leucomelaena

Hemprich and Ehrenberg

, 1833,

central Midyan, Saudi Arabia


Races form two groups, “leucomelaena group” N & E of Red Sea and “blanfordi group” W & S of Red Sea, these differing primarily in size and in degree of sexual dimorphism, but barely at all in voice; both groups exhibit clinal variation in upperpart coloration (becoming darker and less grey N–S), and W group also in amount of white on tail (increasing N–S). Birds from Yemen described as distincta, but fall into range of individual variation of nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. negevensis Shirihai, 1988 – Arava Valley, along Israel–Jordan border.
  • S. l. leucomelaena (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – Arabian Warbler – NW Saudi Arabia (Tabuk and Khaybar) S to S Yemen, then E to Dhofar (Oman).
  • S. l. blanfordi Seebohm, 1879 – Blanford's Warbler – SE Egypt (Gebel Elba) S along coast to SE Eritrea.
  • S. l. somaliensis (W. L. Sclater & Mackworth-Praed, 1918) – Djibouti and N Somalia.
  • Descriptive notes

    14·5 cm; 11–16·3 g. Rather large and robust Sylvia warbler with long graduated tail, short rounded wings. Male nominate race has blackish-... read more


    Song, from exposed or semi-exposed perch on treetop or tall bush or within tree cover, a far-... read more


    Warm and arid or semi-arid environments with dense groves of acacia (Acacia) and ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects and other arthropods, also berries. Invertebrate food includes at least beetles (Coleoptera), dragonflies (Odonata) and,... read more


    Following data all refer to Israel; no information from rest of range. Laying late Feb to mid-Jun; two broods, occasionally three.... read more


    Mostly resident. Populations breeding at higher elevations undertake short-distance descent to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Distribution rather patchy in suitable habitat; locally common in some areas, but virtually absent in others. Very little information on population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2020). Arabian Warbler (Sylvia leucomelaena). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).