Family Leaf-warblers (Phylloscopidae)

Least Concern

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)


French: Pouillot véloce German: Zilpzalp Spanish: Mosquitero común

Sylvia collybita


, 1817,

Normandy, France


Previously considered conspecific with P. tristis (see that species, and notes on form “fulvescens”). Hybridization with P. trochilus and P. sindianus recorded. Geographical variation partially clinal, upperparts becoming paler or colder grey and underparts whiter from W to E, but variably paler and darker individuals found in all races. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. abietinus (Nilsson, 1819) – Scandinavia (except S), Baltic states, Belarus and W Russia E at least to Kanin Peninsula and the Urals; non-breeding Balkans S to W, NE & E Africa and Arabia.
  • P. c. collybita (Vieillot, 1817) – British Is E to S Sweden, and from France and NC & NE Spain to Poland, Balkans, Romania, Bulgaria and NW Turkey; non-breeding around Mediterranean (sporadically to S Ireland, C England and Netherlands) and from NW & W Africa (including Canary Is) to Middle East.
  • P. c. brevirostris (Strickland, 1837) – highlands of NW & N Turkey.
  • P. c. caucasicus Loskot, 1991 – Caucasus and Transcaucasus S to NW & N Iran.
  • P. c. menzbieri Shestoperov, 1937 – NE Iran (E Elburz Mts and Khorasan Mts) and SW Turkmenistan.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 6–11·5 g. A medium-sized, rather plain leaf-warbler with relatively “compact” primary projection. Nominate race has pale... read more


    Call (nominate and abietinus) a soft and melancoly “hooeet”, “hweet... read more


    Lowland deciduous forest and woodland with low undergrowth, also parks, hedgerows, shelterbelts,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects and their eggs and larvae, also other arthropods; also small molluscs (Gastropoda); seeds and berries sometimes taken,... read more


    Apr to early Aug; in S of range usually two broods, second clutch laid in Jun. Mostly monogamous, but in parts of range male defends two... read more


    Races caucasicus and menzbieri largely altitudinal migrants; ascent to breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or locally common. European population estimated to be c. 16,500,000 pairs, most of which in central areas, including 3,700,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). 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 26 February 2020).