Family Reed-warblers (Acrocephalidae)

Least Concern

Common Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)


French: Rousserolle effarvatte German: Teichrohrsänger Spanish: Carricero común

Turdus scirpaceus


, 1804,

Alsace, France


African resident populations usually treated as separate species A. baeticatus, but morphological, vocal and genetic differences weak#R#R#R#R, and recently discovered populations in North Africa show various kinds of intermediacy#R#R#R. Races avicenniae and fuscus have been posited as separate species, but the most comprehensive genetic study attempted to date, which recovered evidence of eight distinct lineages, recommended to treat all as subspecies, until such time as information concerning possible gene flow and assortative mating in contact zones becomes available#R. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. scirpaceus (Hermann, 1804) – Eurasian Reed-warbler – Europe (except Iberian Peninsula) E to W Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, lower R Kuban and W Asia Minor; non-breeding sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A. s. ambiguus (A. E. Brehm, 1857) – Iberian Peninsula (intergrading with nominate in NE Spain and S France) and NW Africa#R; Iberian birds migratory but in NW Africa partially resident#R#R.
  • A. s. fuscus (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – Caspian Reed-warbler – E Asia Minor, Cyprus and Levant, and from N Caspian area E to SE Kazakhstan and extreme NW China (W Xinjiang), S to NW, C & E Iran and NW Afghanistan; non-breeding Africa.
  • A. s. avicenniae Ash et al., 1989 – Mangrove Reed-warbler – mangroves of Red Sea coast in Egypt (from Sinai S to Hamata#R), Sudan, Eritrea and W Arabia; also N Somalia.
  • A. s. ammon Hering et al., 2016 – date palms and olive trees on the northern Libya–Egypt border (Qattara, Siwa, Sitra and Al Jaghbub)#R.
  • A. s. guiersi Colston & Morel, 1984 – N Senegal.
  • A. s. cinnamomeus Reichenow, 1908 – SW Mauritania, Senegal, S Mali, E Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, W Sudan & South Sudan E to W & C Ethiopia and S Somalia, and S to N & SE DRCongo, E Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
  • A. s. hallae C. M. N. White, 1960 – SW Angola E to SW Zambia, S to Namibia, N & W Botswana and W South Africa.
  • A. s. suahelicus Grote, 1926 – coastal Tanzania S (mainly in mangroves) to E Mozambique and NE South Africa (coastal KwaZulu-Natal).
  • A. s. baeticatus (Vieillot, 1817) – African Reed-warbler – E Botswana and Zimbabwe S to S & SE South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 8–19·7 g (mean 12·3 g). A plain reed-warbler with bluntly pointed wing. Nominate race is dull olive-brown above, rather darker on crown, with dull... read more


    Song a strident rhythmic series of grating and squeaky notes, each repeated 2–3 times, e.g.... read more


    Breeds chiefly in mature beds of reed (Phragmites) on shores of lakes and fish ponds, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects and their larvae, spiders (Araneae), occasionally fruit, seeds and flowers. Diet in Europe includes springtails (Collembola... read more


    Season May–Jul/Aug in W & C Europe; Apr–Jul in NW Africa. Monogamous; rarely bigamous. Loosely colonial (aggregations of... read more


    All populations migratory, wintering in Africa S of Sahara, and S at least to Zambia; a few winter... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout most of range. Total European population estimated 2,700,000–5,000,000 pairs, with largest numbers probably in Sweden (500,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Dyrcz, A., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Common Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). 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).