Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Layard's Warbler (Sylvia layardi)


French: Fauvette de Layard German: Layardgrasmücke Spanish: Curruca de Layard

Parisoma layardi


, 1862,

Malmesbury, Western Cape, South Africa


Formerly placed in genus Parisoma within family Timaliidae, but morphology, behaviour, vocalizations and mtDNA indicate better included in present genus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. aridicola (Winterbottom, 1958) – W & S Namibia and NW & N South Africa (NW Northern Cape E to North West Province and W Free State).
  • S. l. layardi (Hartlaub, 1862) – SW South Africa from NW Northern Cape (Port Nolloth) S to Western Cape.
  • S. l. subsolana (Clancey, 1963) – Great Karoo and Little Karoo (S South Africa).
  • S. l. barnesi (Vincent, 1948) – Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 15 g. A rather solidly built, medium-sized dark warbler with relatively short and rounded wings, long tail and pale eyes; short, stout bill somewhat curved on upper... read more


    Song consists of variety of fluting notes, starting with “tik-txek” calls, and forming... read more


    Occupies wide range of habitats, from coastal maquis at sea-level (S South Africa) to mountain... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insectivorous; nestlings consume large amounts of caterpillars. Fruits also recorded, including figs (Ficus); also seeds.... read more


    Season Jul–Jan, mostly Oct–Nov; in Lesotho highlands (race barnesi) seems to breed in austral summer, but few data... read more


    Probably resident, with some juvenile dispersal, over entire range. Increase noted in SW South... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally fairly common to common, but scarce in much of its rather small range. Although no estimate of global population available, population seems... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2020). Layard's Warbler (Sylvia layardi). 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 February 2020).