Family Reed-warblers (Acrocephalidae)

Least Concern

Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)


French: Rousserolle turdoïde German: Drosselrohrsänger Spanish: Carricero tordal

Turdus arundinaceus


, 1758,

Gdansk, Poland


Often considered conspecific with A. orientalis or A. griseldis, or both, but studies using genetic markers support treatment of all three as distinct species. Hybrids between present species and A. stentoreus described from S Kazakhstan, but no evidence for backcrossing and introgression#R; cases of hybridization with A. scirpaceus recently reported from Romania#R, Germany and Belgium. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. arundinaceus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe (except NW & N), NW Africa, Levant and Turkey E to Volga Basin, Caucasus and Caspian Sea; winters in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A. a. zarudnyi E. J. O. Hartert, 1907 – N Iraq and N Iran, and from R Volga and Caspian Sea E to NW Mongolia and S to Tajikistan and NW China (W Xinjiang); probably this race in Arabian Peninsula#R. Winters in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–20 cm; 22–31 g (mean 27·2 g). A large unstreaked reed-warbler with relatively heavy bill, moderately rounded tail feathers. Nominate race has diffuse,... read more


    Advertising song a rhythmic series of frog-like sounds, “karra-karra-karra gurk gurk gurk... read more


    Breeds chiefly in beds of reed (Phragmites), locally in stands of reedmace (Typha... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, also spiders (Araneae), some snails, and small vertebrates; rarely, fruit and berries outside breeding season. Recorded... read more


    Laying from mid-May to July (peak late May and early Jun) in W & C Europe, from early May in S Europe; chiefly one brood per season,... read more


    Migratory; winters sub-Saharan Africa from Sierra Leone and Liberia E to S Ethiopia, S to Namibia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Rather numerous in much of range; local breeder in small numbers in NW Africa (N Morocco, N Algeria, N Tunisia). European population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Dyrcz, A. (2019). Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). 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 24 May 2019).