Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Brown Warbler (Sylvia lugens)


French: Fauvette brune German: Braungrasmücke Spanish: Curruca parda
Other common names: Brown Parisoma

Sylvia (Curruca) lugens


, 1840,

Simien Province, Ethiopia


Formerly placed in genus Parisoma within family Timaliidae, but morphology, behaviour, vocalizations and mtDNA indicate that it belongs in present genus. Separation of races not always possible owing to individual variation and presence of intermediates; further study required, and validity of some races in need of review. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. lugens Rüppell, 1840 – Ethiopian highlands (except Bale Mts).
  • S. l. griseiventris (Érard, 1978) – Bale Mts (SC Ethiopia).
  • S. l. jacksoni (Sharpe, 1899) – S South Sudan and N Uganda (Didinga Mts and Imatong Mts), Kenya, N Tanzania, SE DRCongo (Marungu Highlands), NE Zambia and Malawi.
  • S. l. prigoginei (Schouteden, 1952) – E DRCongo (NW of L Tanganyika, and Itombwe Highlands).
  • S. l. clara (Meise, 1934) – S Tanzania (Matengo Highlands).
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5 cm; 12–18 g. A brownish to grey-brown smallish Sylvia with rounded head, proportionately short and rounded wings, and long tail distinctively edged... read more


    Detailed studies of regional dialects lacking, but probably significant differences among races.... read more


    Mainly open acacia (Acacia) woodland and bushy areas in highlands between 1400 m and 3700... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including long caterpillars, beetles (Coleoptera) and aphids (Aphoidea), also spiders (Araneae); berries and small seeds also... read more


    Most data based on recent detailed study in Kenya (Rift Valley). Season Apr–Dec, peaks in Jun and Oct (all pairs breeding or feeding... read more


    Resident; juvenile dispersal and altitudinal movements presumably occur.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common in Ethiopia, more scarce in Kenya and Tanzania; probably rare elsewhere. Fairly common in Bale Mountains National Park, in Ethiopia.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2019). Brown Warbler (Sylvia lugens). 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 15 November 2019).