Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis)


French: Locustelle fluviatile German: Schlagschwirl Spanish: Buscarla fluvial
Other common names: Eurasian River Warbler

Sylvia fluviatilis


, 1810,

River Danube, Austria


Sister to L. luscinioides#R; see also L. lanceolata. Monotypic.


C & E Europe (E from S Finland, S Sweden, W Germany, E Austria and Bulgaria) E to SW Siberia (R Irtysh region) and NW Kazakhstan; winters in SC & SE Africa.

Descriptive notes

14 cm; 13–19 g (up to 23 g before migration). A plain-backed, dark brown warbler with broad graduated tail, long bulky-looking undertail-coverts, and long pointed... read more


Song a high-pitched, throbbing, insect-like “dzi-dzi-dzi-dzi-dzi-dzi…”; contact-... read more


Breeds in dense low vegetation, grass thickets, nettles (Urtica) and tangled herbage in... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly insects; also spiders (Araneae), small ticks (Acarina), millipedes (Diplopoda), small molluscs. Forages while creeping among low... read more


Laying end of May to mid-Jul in E Europe; single-brooded. Monogamous; solitary and territorial, but may nest in groups. Nest a loose cup of... read more


Long-distance migrant. Migrates to E & S Africa: to SE Kenya, and Zambia, Malawi, N & E... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally distributed, but common in parts of range. European population (excluding Russia) estimated in 1990s at c. 352,000–448,000 pairs, with... read more

Recommended citation

Pearson, D. (2019). River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis). 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 11 December 2019).