Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-vented Warbler (Sylvia subcoerulea)


French: Fauvette grignette German: Meisengrasmücke Spanish: Curruca azulada
Other common names: Rufous-vented Warbler

Sylvia subcœrulea

#R Vieillot

, 1817,

Gourits River, Western Cape, South Africa


Species name previously spelt erroneously as subcaerulea. Formerly placed in genus Parisoma within family Timaliidae, but morphology, behaviour, vocalizations and mtDNA indicate better included in present genus. Geographical differences in plumage coloration seem mainly clinal, and intermediates frequent; validity of some races merits further study. Proposed race ombuensis (from WC Namibia) synonymized with cinerascens, which intergrades rather widely with nominate and with ansorgei. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. ansorgei#R (Zedlitz, 1921) – SW & S Angola.
  • S. s. cinerascens (Reichenow, 1902) – Namibia and Botswana.
  • S. s. subcoerulea Vieillot, 1817 – W South Africa (E to SW Free State and Eastern Cape).
  • S. s. orpheana (Clancey, 1954) – W & C Zimbabwe, South Africa (W & C Limpopo S to Free State, also N & C KwaZulu-Natal), S Swaziland and lowland Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5 cm; 14 g. A medium-sized greyish Sylvia with relatively large head, short rounded wings and long tail; much white in outer tail. Nominate race is dark... read more


    Song, from bushtop perch, sometimes in shallow flight, consists of loud and musical series of... read more


    Savanna woodland in semi-arid areas with scrub, bushes and thickets. In Angola occurs in ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Detailed studies lacking. Mostly insectivorous, and recorded prey include caterpillars, mantids, spiders (Araneae); fruits and seeds also... read more


    Seasonal variable according to rainfall, often breeds opportunistically after rain; mainly Oct–Nov in Zimbabwe; in South Africa,... read more


    Resident; little movement, presumably related to altitudinal and juvenile dispersal. Individual in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relatively common and widespread in favourable habitat in most of range. Distribution apparently has not changed significantly in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2020). Chestnut-vented Warbler (Sylvia subcoerulea). 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 18 February 2020).