Family Leaf-warblers (Phylloscopidae)

Least Concern

Sulphur-breasted Warbler (Phylloscopus ricketti)

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Taxonomy

French: Pouillot de Rickett German: Goldscheitel-Laubsänger Spanish: Mosquitero de Rickett
Other common names: Sulphur-breasted Leaf-warbler
Taxonomy:

Cryptolopha ricketti

Slater

, 1897,

Kuan-t’un, north-west Fujian, south-east China

.

Has sometimes been treated as conspecific with P. cantator, and this is a serious option, with the inclusion of P. calciatilis; but differs from P. calciatilis in characters given under that species. Differs from P. cantator in its yellow vs white belly (3); bolder or blacker sides of crown, contrasting with bright yellow supercilium (1); longer wing (effect size for males on published evidence#R 1.96, score 1); and more stereotyped (1) and slightly lower-pitched song (1). P. goodsoni (hitherto considered conspecific with P. reguloides) was in the past treated as a race of present species. Monotypic.

What do the figures in brackets mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Distribution:

C, S & E China (S Gansu and Sichuan E to Hubei and Fujian, S to Guizhou, N Guangxi and E Guangdong); non-breeding Thailand, S Laos and Cambodia.

Descriptive notes

10–11 cm. A medium-sized leaf-warbler with bright yellow head stripes and underparts. Has prominent head pattern of blackish crown side, greenish-yellow central crownstripe (sometimes grey streaks on nape), long bright yellow supercilium, blackish lores and eyestripe, olive-washed yellow cheek and ear-coverts; upperparts bright greenish-olive, tips of greater upperwing-coverts yellow (forming wingbar), sometimes faint yellowish tips of median coverts; flight-feathers and tail feathers blackish, outer two rectrices with narrow yellowish-white edges on inner webs; throat and entire underparts bright lemon-yellow, flanks usually washed with olive; iris dark brown; upper mandible dark brown, base or most of lower mandible yellow or orange; legs variable, from yellowish and washed with greenish, to purple or greyish-pink. Differs from very similar P. cantator in having entire underparts bright yellow, much bolder or blacker sides of crown contrasting with bright yellow supercilium; from P. intensior additionally in lacking white in tail. Sexes alike. Juvenile duller green above than adult, yellowish-olive below; first-winter birds slightly brighter, with more prominent wingbars.

Drawing by David Quinn
Descriptive notes:

10–11 cm. A medium-sized leaf-warbler with bright yellow head stripes and underparts. Has prominent head pattern of blackish crown side, greenish-yellow central crownstripe (sometimes grey streaks on nape), long bright yellow supercilium, blackish lores and eyestripe, olive-washed yellow cheek and ear-coverts; upperparts bright greenish-olive, tips of greater upperwing-coverts yellow (forming wingbar), sometimes faint yellowish tips of median coverts; flight-feathers and tail feathers blackish, outer two rectrices with narrow yellowish-white edges on inner webs; throat and entire underparts bright lemon-yellow, flanks usually washed with olive; iris dark brown; upper mandible dark brown, base or most of lower mandible yellow or orange; legs variable, from yellowish and washed with greenish, to purple or greyish-pink. Differs from very similar P. cantator in having entire underparts bright yellow, much bolder or blacker sides of crown contrasting with bright yellow supercilium; from P. intensior additionally in lacking white in tail. Sexes alike. Juvenile duller green above than adult, yellowish-olive below; first-winter birds slightly brighter, with more prominent wingbars.

Voice

Song a high-pitched series of short quick phrases, accelerating towards end, “sit siri sii-sii see-chew, sit sweety sweety sweety swee-chew”. Call a disyllabic “pitch-you, pitch-you”.

Habitat

Mixed deciduous and semi-evergreen forest, juniper (Juniperus) forest and sparse vegetation and stunted bushes on hillsides; to c. 1500 m.

Food and feeding

Food small invertebrates. Forages singly or in pairs; often in mixed-species parties outside breeding season. Feeds in canopy. Very active, running and hopping among foliage; gleans items from leaves and branches; frequently sallies after insects from treetops.

Breeding

Little known. Season May–Jul; eggs in Jun, nestlings in Jul. Nest on ground among boulders, or up to 1 m from ground in vegetation.

Movements

Little known. Moves S after breeding, but no detailed information available.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon in breeding range in China. Uncommon to locally common non-breeding visitor in Thailand and Indochina; occurs in Khao Yai National Park, in Thailand.

Recommended citation

Clement, P. (2019). Sulphur-breasted Warbler (Phylloscopus ricketti). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/58901 on 14 December 2019).