Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

Common Grasshopper-warbler (Locustella naevia)


French: Locustelle tachetée German: Feldschwirl Spanish: Buscarla pintoja
Other common names: Grasshopper Warbler

Motacilla naevia


, 1783,

Bologna, Italy


Races appear to form two pairs, with nominate and obscurior in W (larger, browner), and straminea and mongolica in E (marginally smaller, paler); vocal analysis suggests that E birds have a slightly slower pace of song delivery#R, but more recordings of all races except nominate needed to confirm this. Race mongolica sometimes subsumed within straminea#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. n. naevia (Boddaert, 1783) – Western Grasshopper-warbler – Europe (from S Scandinavia and S Finland S to Britain and Ireland, N Iberia, Alps and R Danube) E to W European Russia and Ukraine; non-breeding W Africa.
  • L. n. obscurior Buturlin, 1929 – Caucasus Mts S to NE Turkey and Armenia; non-breeding probably E Africa and Middle East.
  • L. n. straminea Seebohm, 1881 – Eastern Grasshopper-warbler – C & S parts of E European Russia E to SW Siberia (Novosibirsk), N & E Kazakhstan and NW China (Tien Shan); non-breeding mostly S Asia, a few in Ethiopia.
  • L. n. mongolica Sushkin, 1925 – Zayzan Depression (E Kazakhstan) E to Sayan Mts (in S Russia) and W Mongolia; non-breeding range uncertain, presumably S Asia.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–12·5 cm; 12–18 g (naevia), 11–16 g (straminea). A small, tapered-looking olive-brown or greyish-brown warbler with spotted or... read more


    Song highly distinctive, an even, high-pitched, insect-like reeling, volume appearing to change as... read more


    Breeds at edges of open woodland, in damp grazing land, in rank grasses, beds of nettle (Urtica... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects; also spiders (Araneae), some small molluscs. Feeds while moving actively through low vegetation. Gleans from stems, working... read more


    Laying late Apr to mid-Jul in W Europe; usually double-brooded. Monogamous; solitary, territorial. Nest a thick cup of grass, stems and... read more


    Long-distance migrant. Nominate race departs from W & C European breeding grounds Aug and early... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common, but distribution patchy; often uncommon. Numbers in many areas fluctuate from one year to another. European population (excluding... read more

    Recommended citation

    Pearson, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Common Grasshopper-warbler (Locustella naevia). 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 17 November 2019).