Family Reed-warblers (Acrocephalidae)

Least Concern

Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)


French: Hypolaïs pâle German: Blassspötter Spanish: Zarcero pálido
Other common names: Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Curruca pallida

Hemprich and Ehrenberg

, 1833,

the River Nile, in Egypt and Nubia


Formerly regarded as conspecific with I. opaca, but recent work has confirmed substantial differences in mitochondrial DNA (more than 9%), song, behaviour and morphology. Race laeneni poorly differentiated from, and perhaps better merged with, reiseri#R. Proposed race tamariceti (breeding E from C Turkey and Middle East) supposedly slightly paler above and shorter-billed than elaeica, but claimed differences reflect individual rather than geographical variation. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. p. elaeica (Lindermayer, 1843) – SE Europe (Hungary, Romania E to S Ukraine, and Slovenia and Croatia S to Greece and Bulgaria), Turkey, Cyprus, W Syria S to N Israel and W Jordan, N & S Caucasus S to Iraq, W & N Iran, E Arabian Peninsula, and from SW & S Kazakhstan E to W Xinjiang and S to Uzbekistan, S Turkmenistan and probably N Afghanistan; winters in C & E Sahel region of Africa.
  • I. p. reiseri (Hilgert, 1908) – desert habitats of interior SE Morocco#R and Algeria, possibly also Mauritania, S Tunisia and Libya (Fezzan); non-breeding also S of Sahara Desert.
  • I. p. pallida (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – W & N Egypt, S along some of the Western Desert oases and R Nile to C Sudan; non-breeding also Sudan E to Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • I. p. laeneni (Niethammer, 1955) – C & SE Niger, N Nigeria, N Cameroon, Chad and (presumably this race) W Sudan.
  • I. p. alulensis (Ash et al., 2005) – Red Sea coast of Egypt#R to coastal N Somalia#R including probably Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen and Saudi Arabia (N to Yanbu)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 8–16 g. A grey-brown Hippolais with rather narrow and square-ended medium-long tail, and fairly long and pointed strong-based bill not unlike... read more


    Song a fairly loud, characteristic, scratchy, monotonous phrase cyclically repeated, with low... read more


    Trees and tall bushes in variety of habitats: dense gardens, parks, riverine forest, often of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly invertebrates; some fruits. Invertebrates include e.g. dragonflies (Odonata), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), termites (Isoptera), bugs (... read more


    May–Jun; single brood in Europe and C Asia, possibly frequently double-brooded in Africa. Nest a well-built cup of plant stems and... read more


    N race (elaeica) a long-distance migrant, wintering in E & NE Africa (S to L Victoria... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common within much of its range, and locally abundant, especially in Turkey; more local in N Africa, Arabia and C Asia, owing mainly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Svensson, L. (2019). Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida). 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 16 February 2019).