Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Tristram's Warbler (Sylvia deserticola)


French: Fauvette de l’Atlas German: Atlasgrasmücke Spanish: Curruca del Atlas

Sylvia deserticola


, 1859,

Sahara of southern Algeria


Form named as S. ticehursti, described on basis of single specimen from S Morocco (near Ouarzazate), and traditionally treated either as separate species or as race of present species, is probably an aberrant individual of race maroccana (which it resembles in general structure and in tail and tertial patterns), or a hybrid between it and S. deserti (which it resembles in having pale sandy-brown upperparts). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. d. maroccana E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Anti-Atlas and High and Middle Atlas, from Jebel Igdet (Morocco) E to Tlemcen (NW Algeria); non-breeding also S to W Sahara oases (as far S as Nouakchott, in W Mauritania).
  • S. d. deserticola Tristram, 1859 – Saharan Atlas and Aurès Mts, from Aïn Sefra (NW Algeria) E to Gafsa area (Tunisia); non-breeding also S to C & S Algeria (Tademaït Plateau, Tassili n-Ajjer, Ahaggar Mts), NE Mali and C Libya.
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; 7–10 g. Small, graceful and long-tailed, with short rounded wings. Male nominate race breeding has head, upper­parts and lesser upperwing-coverts pale bluish... read more


    Song, from perch, less often from cover or in flight, consists of short (1·8–5·... read more


    Breeds in dry scrub and maquis in montane areas at 1000–2500 m. Favours dense maquis of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mainly small arthropods, e.g. small worms, lepidopteran caterpillars, ants (Hymenoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera); probably also... read more


    Season mostly Mar–Jul; starts as late as May at higher elevations. Apparently monogamous; solitary, territorial breeder. Song flight... read more


    Partial migrant. Part of population present on breeding grounds throughout year, but some areas... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to fairly common. Can be relatively numerous in favourable breeding habitats, also in optimum non-breeding habitats such as tamarisk... read more

    Recommended citation

    Aymí, R. & Gargallo, G. (2019). Tristram's Warbler (Sylvia deserticola). 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 18 February 2019).