Family Leaf-warblers (Phylloscopidae)

Least Concern

Island Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus)


French: Pouillot des îles German: Insellaubsänger Spanish: Mosquitero isleño
Other common names: San Cristobal Leaf-warbler (makirensis)

Gerygone? poliocephala


, 1876,

Arfak Mountains, Vogelkop, New Guinea


Until recently considered conspecific with P. maforensis and P. misoriensis (see both, below). Race makirensis was treated as a species in HBW and elsewhere#R, without clear justification. Evidence is accumulating that multiple species are represented within the present arrangement: races henrietta and waterstradti sing in short repeated phrases, while ceramensis and avicola sing with longer slurred notes and everetti looks and sounds very different#R; becki, bougainvillei, giulianettii and to a lesser extent nominate poliocephalus are characterized by a rapid, nervous delivery of short, spiky notes#R. Birds discovered on Taliabu (Sula Is) in Sept 1991 may represent a hitherto undescribed taxon. Comprehensive review involving molecular, acoustic and morphological evidence is needed. Eighteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. henrietta Stresemann, 1931 – N Moluccas (Morotai, Halmahera, Ternate).
  • P. p. waterstradti (E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – North Moluccan Leaf-warbler – N Moluccas (Bacan, Obi).
  • P. p. everetti (E. J. O. Hartert, 1899) – Buru Leaf-warbler – S Moluccas (Buru, above 700 m).
  • P. p. ceramensis (Ogilvie-Grant, 1910) – Seram Leaf-warbler – S Moluccas (Seram, Ambon).
  • P. p. avicola E. J. O. Hartert, 1924 – Kai Leaf-warbler – Kai Is (Kai Besar).
  • P. p. poliocephalus (Salvadori, 1876) – New Guinea Leaf-warbler – NW New Guinea (Tamrau Mts, Arfak Mts, Wandammen Mts).
  • P. p. albigularis E. J. O. Hartert & Paludan, 1936 – WC New Guinea (Weyland Mts).
  • P. p. paniaiae Junge, 1952 – WC New Guinea (Wissel Lakes region).
  • P. p. cyclopum E. J. O. Hartert, 1930 – N New Guinea (Cyclops Mts).
  • P. p. giulianettii (Salvadori, 1896) – C & SE New Guinea (E from Snow Mts).
  • P. p. hamlini Mayr & Rand, 1935 – Goodenough I, in D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago (off SE New Guinea).
  • P. p. matthiae Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1924 – Melanesia Leaf-warbler – St Matthias Group (Mussau I), in Bismarck Archipelago.
  • P. p. leletensis Salomonsen, 1965 – New Ireland, in Bismarck Archipelago.
  • P. p. moorhousei Gilliard & LeCroy, 1967 – New Britain and Umboi, in Bismarck Archipelago.
  • P. p. bougainvillei Mayr, 1935 – Bougainville I.
  • P. p. pallescens Mayr, 1935 – Kolombangara I, in W Solomon Is.
  • P. p. becki E. J. O. Hartert, 1929 – E Solomon Is (Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malaita).
  • P. p. makirensis Mayr, 1935 – Makira Leaf-warbler – Makira (San Cristobal), in S Solomon Is.
  • Undetermined race in Sula Is#R (off E Sulawesi).

    Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; 7–11·5 g. A small to medium-sized, olive-green leaf-warbler. Nominate race has blackish-olive crown, long whitish supercilium, blackish lores and... read more


    Song variable, in NE New Guinea described as an energetic high-pitched “du-du-dee-dee-du-dee-... read more


    Across large parts of range almost entirely confined to montane primary and secondary forests (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mostly small insects and their larvae. Forages alone and in pairs, and commonly in mixed-species flocks. Unobtrusive; frequents middle... read more


    Very poorly known. Nest with eggs (race giulianettii) in Apr and in Nov. Dependent young in Dec (race avicola). Nest a... read more


    Resident; may wander to lower levels in non-breeding season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally moderately common or common, but scarce at extremes of range in New Guinea. Race paniaiae is rare in W New Guinea;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Island Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus). 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 25 August 2019).