Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)


French: Fauvette à lunettes German: Brillengrasmücke Spanish: Curruca tomillera

Sylvia conspicillata


, 1820,

Sardinia, Italy


Geographical variation minor; this species said to provide “an unexpected example of lack of diversification in a songbird occurring in oceanic islands”#R. Race orbitalis appears to vary clinally from N to S; Madeira birds the most distinctive, and formerly separated as race bella, while those from Cape Verde Is are closest to nominate, and those from Canary Is intermediate (underparts very much like nominate, upperparts more deeply coloured). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. conspicillata Temminck, 1820 – SW & S Europe (Iberia E to Italy and Sicily) and NW Africa (S to WC Mauritania#R, E to NW Libya), also Cyprus, S Turkey#R and Levant; non-breeding mainly NW Africa, N Egypt, and E Mediterranean region.
  • S. c. orbitalis (Wahlberg, 1854) – Madeira, Canary Is and Cape Verde Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; 7·8–13·1 g. Small and dainty, moderately long-tailed warbler with rather short and rounded wings. Male nominate race breeding has light slate-grey... read more


    Song, usually from bush perch or in song flight, less frequently from treetop, composed of short,... read more


    Favours very low scrubland (c. 0·5–1 m tall) in mostly dry warm Mediterranean areas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mostly small arthropods and insect larvae and eggs; recorded prey include spiders (Araneae), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), flies (Diptera... read more


    Season Feb–Jun, from mid-Feb in NW Africa and Cyprus, from Mar/Apr in SW Europe; race orbitalis breeds in most months except... read more


    Resident and partial migrant. Race orbitalis mostly sedentary, undertaking some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common, both on breeding and on wintering grounds, but usually patchily distributed. Typically rather local and discontinuous... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2020). Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata). 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 29 January 2020).