Family Leaf-warblers (Phylloscopidae)

Least Concern

White-spectacled Warbler (Phylloscopus intermedius)


French: Pouillot affin German: Silberbrillen-Laubsänger Spanish: Mosquitero de anteojos

Cryptolopha intermedia

La Touche

, 1898,



Previously placed in Seicercus; see Phylloscopidae. MtDNA data suggest that populations from Sichuan and Guangdong, currently grouped in race intermedius on plumage, may be more closely related to race ocularis than to topotypical intermedius from Fujian#R; further research required to test relationships and to see if additional taxa may be involved, perhaps even at species level#R. Situation of S race ocularis unclear and it has variously been grouped with W or E races; may be morphologically and vocally very similar to Himalayan birds, despite wide geographical separation, but has been suggested as possibly worth consideration for biological species status#R; further study needed, but for present it seems best to keep this taxon separate. Birds from NW Fujian described as race cognitus, but considered to represent a colour morph of intermedius, co-occurring over much of range#R. With merging of Seicercus and Phylloscopus, name affinis (previously nominate form of present species) becomes preoccupied; recently replaced by new name zosterops#R, while intermedius now has priority and becomes the new nominate form. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. i. zosterops A. Elliott & del Hoyo, 2016 – E Himalayas from NE India (West Bengal E to SE Arunachal Pradesh, also Meghalaya, S Assam, Nagaland and Manipur) E to N Myanmar; non-breeding at lower altitudes.
  • P. i. intermedius (La Touche, 1898) – disjunct populations in SC & SE China (Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian#R); non-breeding presumably in S China and N Vietnam (possibly N Laos).
  • P. i. ocularis (Robinson & Kloss, 1919) – SC Vietnam (S Annam, presumably also C Annam#R).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm. Race zosterops has “bright” grey median crownstripe, black lateral crownstripe (usually distinct on forehead, almost to bill); sides of... read more


    Song consists of short (c. 1–1·9 seconds) strophes of varied whistled clear notes,... read more


    Breeds in upper part of tropical, mostly evergreen, broadleaf forest zone to lower part of cool... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet insects; no details. Forages mainly in understorey; catching of prey often involves short flights.


    Little studied. Season Apr–Jun in Himalayas; in China, males sing mainly mid-Apr to early Jun. Nest (of race zosterops) a... read more


    Race zosterops an altitudinal migrant, descending to foothills and edge of plains in non-... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rather scarce throughout its range, but no population estimates.

    Recommended citation

    Alström, P. (2019). White-spectacled Warbler (Phylloscopus intermedius). 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 19 August 2019).