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Warblers & Allies

Cetti's

Cetti's Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually. It is heard more than seen as it is a very shy bird and loves to hide in dense vegetation. 

 

Small, warm buff warbler with skulking behaviour, but conspicuous song. Similar in size to Reed Warbler, but with short, rounded wings and rounded tail. Build fairly compact, but bill thin and slender. Supercilium thin and dull. Cheeks and underparts greyish white, lacking the purer white belly of confusion species. Pale eye-ring. Under tail-coverts usually brown with pale fringes. Often flicks tail or holds it raised. Usually hides among undergrowth, and shows itself only when moving from one shrub to another.

Diet

Insects and larvae.

Longevity record

7 years 6 months (UK, KV 98586)

Bagħal tal-Għollieq
Cettia cetti
Passeriformes
Cettiidae
Common

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Usually seen in

All year round for resident breeding birds.

Occasionally seen in

-

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13 - 14
9 - 17

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Zitting cisticola

Zitting Cisticola

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually or in pairs. However a number of individuals can be seen in the same area.

 

Formerly known as the 'Fan-tailed Warbler'. Small, short winged warbler. Tail fan-shaped with black and white tips. Heavily streaked back, buff underparts and pale throat and vent. Pale area around eye. Flight diagnostic, with whirring wings and short, slightly spread, fan-like tail. Song flight even more distinct, with long undulations synchronised with voice.

Diet

It forages among grasses and gleans preys from bases of clumps of grasses. It occasionally hawks flying insects. It forages by walking and hopping on the ground. Its diet includes insects and small invertebrates such as grasshoppers, mantids, dragonflies, moths, caterpillars and insect larvae, mayflies and flies, spiders and snails. Some grass seeds are taken too.

Longevity record

-

Bagħal tal-Imrewħa / Zippu

Cisticola juncidis

Passeriformes

Cisticolidae

Common

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Usually seen in

All year round for resident breeding birds.

Occasionally seen in

-

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

10 - 11
8 - 12

zitting cisticola, zippu, baghal tal imrewha
Savi's Warbler

Savi's Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Reedbed-living, dull coloured warbler with fan-shaped tail. Under tail coverts lacking pale fringes or markings. Vague and short supercilium. Differs from other locustella by unstreaked chest, back and under tail coverts. From Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler by very long and buff under tail coverts, smaller head and pinkish legs.

Diet

They feed on insects such as flies, beetles, moths, grubs and damselflies.

Longevity record

9 years 9 months (Hungary, P 45251)

Bagħal Aħmar

Locustella luscinioides

Passeriformes

Locustellidae

Very scarce

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Usually seen in

April, October

Occasionally seen in

February - March, June, August - September

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13.5 - 15
14 - 17

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Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Small and secretive warbler, usually discovered by the contact call. Broad, yellow/whitish wing-bars framed in black, and dark tertials with pale fringes gives the species a contrasting plumage. Long and strong yellow supercilium (lacking the orange base of Pallas' Leaf Warbler). No central crown-stripe. Slightly smaller than a Chiffchaff, with smaller bill and shorter tail. Rump same colour as back (as opposed to Pallas'), and overall greener and more strikingly coloured than Hume's Leaf Warbler (but beware individual variation).

Diet

They feed on insects such as flies, beetles, moths, grubs and damselflies.

Longevity record

-

Vjolin tal-Faxx
Phylloscopus inornatus
Passeriformes
Phylloscopidae
Very scarce

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Usually seen in

April, October - November

Occasionally seen in

February - March, May, September, December

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

9 - 10.5
5 - 8

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Eastern's Bonelli Warbler

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

The adult has a plain grey-green back, green-toned rump and wings and whitish underparts. The bill is small and pointed and the legs brown. The sexes are identical, as with most warblers.

The Eastern Bonelli's warbler lacks the browner tinge to the upperparts that Western Bonelli's warbler has; it sometimes has a greenish tinge instead. The song is a fast monotone trill, only slightly different from Western Bonelli's, and also some similarity to Wood Warbler. The call of the Eastern Bonelli's warbler is a hard chup, and completely different from the disyllabic hu-it of Western Bonelli's

The genus name Phylloscopus is from Ancient Greek phullon, "leaf", and skopos, "seeker" (from skopeo, "to watch"). The specific orientalis is Latin for "eastern".

Diet

Like most warblers, the Eastern Bonelli's is insectivorous.

Longevity record

-

Vjolin Bajdani tal-Lvant

Phylloscopus orientalis

Passeriformes

Phylloscopidae

Scarce

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Usually seen in

March - May

Occasionally seen in

-

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

9 - 10.5
7 - 9

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Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

The adult has a plain grey-green back, green-toned rump and wings and whitish underparts. The bill is small and pointed and the legs brown. The sexes are identical, as with most warblers.

The Western Bonelli's warbler has a browner tinge to the upperparts than Eastern Bonelli's warbler; the latter sometimes has a greenish tinge instead.

 

The song is a fast monotone trill, only slightly different from Eastern Bonelli's, and also some similarity to Wood Warbler. The call of the Western Bonelli's warbler is a disyllabic hu-it, differing from that of Eastern which is a completely different hard chup.

Diet

Like most warblers, the Western Bonelli's is insectivorous.

Longevity record

-

Vjolin Bajdani tal-Punent

Phylloscopus bonelli

Passeriformes

Phylloscopidae

Scarce

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Usually seen in

March - May

Occasionally seen in

August - October

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

9 - 10.5
7 - 9

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Wood warbler

Wood Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but multiple numbers can be within the same area.

Most distinct species of the genus. Most similar to Willow Warbler, but with much more contrasting plumage. Upperparts pure green. Throat and upper chest yellow, contrasting with pure white underparts. Distinct and strong yellow supercilium and black eye-stripe. Long primary projection, with primaries reaching middle of relatively short tail. Tertials with pale green fringes. Legs pale yellowish brown. Posture often horizontal with drooping wings.

Diet

Wood Warblers' diet seems to be quite diverse. Caterpillars (17–81%) appear to be a predominant prey, but also spiders (5–21%) and various winged insects.

Longevity record

10 years 3 months (Germany, AL 5318)

Vjolin Ħadrani / Tal-Maltemp
Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Passeriformes
Phylloscopidae
Fairly common

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Usually seen in

April - May

Occasionally seen in

March, June, August - November

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

11 - 12.5
8 - 12

wood warbler, vjolin hadrani, tal maltemp
Common Chiffchaff

Common Chifchaff

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but multiple numbers can be within the same area.

Olive green upperparts, yellowish chest with gradual transition to off-white belly. Very similar to Willow Warbler, and most field characters are subtle and often hard to see. Distinguished by (usually) black, or dark-brown legs, only faint dark framing to ear-coverts, less marked supercilium. Shorter primary projection (1/2 to 2/3'rds the lenght of tertials), with regularly spaced tips (visible when wing folded). Wings more fan-shaped and less pointed than in Willow Warbler. Juveniles much less yellow below than in W.Warbler. Generally leaves a duller and greyer impression than W. Warbler, but plumage very variable. Frequently flicks tail, even sideways. Generally also more active when moving among the foliage.

Diet

The chiffchaff feeds on insects and invertebrates. Flies, gnats, midges and caterpillars form a large part of its diet. Seeds and berries may be taken in winter.

Longevity record

8 years (Hungary, T 109177)

Vjolin tax-Xitwa 
Phylloscopus collybita
Passeriformes
Phylloscopidae
Fairly common

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Usually seen in

October - April

Occasionally seen in

June - July

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

10 - 12
6 - 9

common chifchaff, vjolin tax xitwa
Siberian Chiffchaf

Siberian Chifchaff

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

It has been split as a different species from the Common Chiffchaff very recently and it is difficult to identify with precision. The key features for the Siberian Chiffchaff are,

(1) absence of olive in the crown and mantle

(2) presence of a grey-brown or pale brown hue in the upperparts

(3) absence of yellow away from the underwing

(4) presence of warm buff in the supercilium and tobacco ear-coverts

(5) supercilium standing out more than the white eye ring

(6) presence of whitish buff/ lack of yellow hints at the breast-sides/flanks

(7) very black-looking bill and legs

(8) a thin, piping monosyllabic Dunnock-like call

(9) a song markedly different from Common Chiffchaff’s 

Diet

The chiffchaff feeds on insects and invertebrates. Flies, gnats, midges and caterpillars form a large part of its diet. Seeds and berries may be taken in winter.

Longevity record

8 years (Hungary, T 109177)

Vjolin tas-Siberja 

Phylloscopus tristis

Passeriformes

Phylloscopidae

Very rare

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Usually seen in

-

Occasionally seen in

October - July

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

11 - 12
6 - 11

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Willow warbler

Willow Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but multiple numbers can be within the same area.

Olive green upperparts, yellowish chest with gradual transition to off-white belly. Very similar to Chiff-chaff, and most field characters are subtle and often hard to see. Distinguished by (usually) pale, yellow-brown legs, dark framing to ear-coverts, stronger supercilium. Long primary projection (often 3/4ths the length of tertials) with irregularly spaced tips (visible when wing folded). Wings slightly more pointed than in Chiff-chaff, and not so fan-shaped. Juveniles often with whole underparts yellow. Frequently flicks tail, but not sideways (unlike Chiff-chaff). Generally also more calm when moving among the foliage.

Diet

Willow warblers are active during the day, feeding on a variety of small insects and spiders, as well as fruits and berries in the autumn.

Longevity record

10 years 10 months (UK, 9J 1321)

Vjolin Pastard 
Phylloscopus trochilus
Passeriformes
Phylloscopidae
Fairly common

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Usually seen in

March - May, August - October

Occasionally seen in

June, November

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

11 - 12.5
7 - 12

willow warbler, vjolin pastard
Blackcap

Eurasian Blackcap

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but can be seen in pairs.

Large and robust warbler with plain plumage, except for the characteristic cap (black in males, rufous in females and juveniles). Upperparts greyish brown and underparts pale grey. Vent white. No white in tail, as opposed to all other black-capped Sylvias in the region. Easily confused with Garden Warbler if the cap is not seen.

Diet

Blackcaps will pick insects, caterpillars and spiders from among the shrubs. In winter they will eat fruit such as berries. 

Longevity record

13 years 10 months (Czech Republic, T 274613)

Kapinera
Sylvia atricapilla
Passeriformes
Sylviidae
Fairly common

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Usually seen in

September - March

Occasionally seen in

April - May, July

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13.5 - 15
15 - 24

kapinera, eurasian blackcap
Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but can be seen in small groups.

An almost featureless, large warbler with greyish brown upperparts and buff underparts. Lack of distinct characters is a character! Most distinct character is probably the faint, slate grey half-collar. Vent has no markings, eye is dark and bill is relatively short. Body quite plump, and facial expression gentle and mild. Usually stays hidden in foliage. Lacks nervous behaviour of other Sylvia, and does not normally flick its tail and wings.

Diet

The garden warbler feeds mainly on insects in the breeding season, although other small invertebrates such as spiders are also eaten. It picks its prey off leaves and twigs, sometimes hovering to do so. It is also found in fig and loquat trees picking on fruit.

Longevity record

14 years 2 months (Shot in Germany, 393985)

Bekkafik
Sylvia borin
Passeriformes
Sylviidae
Fairly common

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Usually seen in

April - June, August - October

Occasionally seen in

November - December

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13 - 14.5
15 - 27

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Ruppell's Warbler

Rüppell's Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but can be seen in pairs.

Adult male easily recognized by black throat and strong white moustache stripes. Female often also with black spotted throat which, together with the moustache stripe and pale chest/belly, makes it easy to distinguish from other Sylvia. Females and immatures with pure white throat may be confused with female Sardinian Warbler, but show darker front half of head, paler and purer coloured belly and flanks (lacking brownish tinge) and white fringes to greater coverts and tertials (less obvious in worn plumage). For all plumages look for curved culmen, pointed bill and longer and squarer tail than Sardinian Warbler. Build more similar to Whitethroat than Sardinian Warbler, and also less agile than smaller Sylvia.

Diet

Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit

Longevity record

-

Bufula tal-Pavalor

Sylvia ruppeli

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Very rare

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Usually seen in

March - April

Occasionally seen in

May, September - October

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

12.5 - 13.5
9 - 15

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Sardinian Warbler

Sardinian Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually, in pairs and in smaller groups.

Slender warbler with long tail, short wings and pointed bill. Restless and alert with frequently raised crown feathers and dark eye framed in red. Male with black head, white throat, greyish upperparts and off-white underparts. Female less striking, with grey head grey-brown upperparts, distinct buff flanks and paler belly. Both sexes with white sides and corners to tail. Rarely sits exposed, and usually betrays itself by it's frequently used scolding call. Often just glimpsed when it dives into a bush, spreading it's tail and showing the white markings.

Diet

Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit

Longevity record

8 years 4 months (Spain, 146809)

Bufula Sewda

Sylvia melanocephala

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Common

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Usually seen in

All months of the year. Resident bird.

Occasionally seen in

-

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13 - 14
10 - 15

bufula sewda, sardinian warbler
Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually, in pairs and in smaller groups.

Medium small Sylvia with short tail, slender body and steep forehead. Bill slim,fairly short and pointed. Male with rufous breast and conspicuous, broad, white moustache stripes. Upperparts lead grey. Female with slightly more brownish upperparts and buff white below. Immature birds has greyish brown upperparts, and are prone to confusion with Spectacled Warbler due to broad, brown fringes of tertials. The colour is however less rufous, and the dark centre ends in a rounded, not pointed tip. Pale legs in all sexes and ages, but some variation. Eye-ring colour variable, but generally red in male and very pale in female and immature (rules out other Sylvia except Tristram and Sardinian). Colour of upperparts more uniform than in confusion species in both male and female. May cock tail, but does not keep it raised like Dartford Warbler. 

Diet

Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit.

Longevity record

-

Bufula Passajra

Sylvia cantillan

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Common

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Usually seen in

March - May, July - October

Occasionally seen in

February, November

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

12 - 13
9 - 13

bufula passajra, eastern subalpine warbler
Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Fairly large warbler with long tail, giving the whole bird an elongated look. Tertials, secondaries and coverts with rufous fringes in contrast to greyish brown back. Underparts pale with buff flanks. Outer tail feathers white. Steep forehead and white throat. Males with slate grey head.

Diet

It is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit.

Longevity record

9 years (Sweden, 2KK72878)

Bekkafik Aħmar

Sylvia communis

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Fairly common

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Usually seen in

March - May

Occasionally seen in

August - November

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13 - 15
13 - 21

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Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Similar to Common Whitethroat but, with greyish fringes on secondaries and shorter tail and wings. Forehead less steep than in Common Whitethroat. Upperparts evenly dark brown with no contrast between shoulders and back. Head grey with slightly darker ear-coverts. Throat and belly white. Legs dark. Tail dark with white edges.

Diet

It is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit.

Longevity record

7 years 11 months (UK,N 439903)

Bekkafik Irmiedi

Sylvia curruca

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Very scarce

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Usually seen in

September - October

Occasionally seen in

March - May

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

11.5 - 13.5
11 - 16

lesser whitethroat, bekkafik irmiedi
Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Small and short-winged Sylvia with large head and high crown. In all plumages; evenly warm rufous wing-panel (lacking dark centered greater coverts of Whitethroat), very short primary projection, dark tail, thin pointed bill, narrow dark centres to tertials, pure white chin and (incomplete) white eye-ring. Adult male with lead-grey head, dark/black lore and often grey lower throat. Female and immature differs from Whitethroat by short primary projection, smaller size, slender build and thinner bill. Told from immature Subalpine Warbler by warmer rufous wings with only narrow dark centres to tertials.

Diet

It is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit.

Longevity record

-

Bufula Ħamra

Sylvia conspicillata

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Scarce

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Usually seen in

All months. Resident bird.

Occasionally seen in

-

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

12 - 13
8 - 11

spectacled warbler, bufula hamra
Datford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually.

Small and slender Sylvia about the size of Lesser Whitethroat. The short wings, steep forehead and striking long tail alone is often enough for positive id. Upperparts dark slate grey, and underparts of male vinous red with finely white spotted throat. Female less brightly coloured with more brownish tones and less red underparts. Immature duller still, with brownish underparts rather than red. Yellow base of lower mandible in all ages and sex. Lacks the white moustache-stripe of Subalpine Warbler. Tail frequently held raised. Skulking behaviour. Prefers scrubs and is usually only glimpsed when moving low from bush to bush, or when singing from more exposed perch.

 

Diet

It is insectivorous, but will also take soft fruit.

Longevity record

-

Bufula tax-Xagħri

Sylvia undata

Passeriformes

Sylviidae

Rare

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Usually seen in

October - March

Occasionally seen in

April, September

Click on the image to open slideshow

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Length (cm): 
Weight (g):

13 - 14
9 - 12

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Goldcrest

Goldcrest

Maltese name/s 

Scientific binomen

Order

Family          
Sighting occurrence 

 

Info*

Usually seen individually but multiple birds can be seen roaming the same area.

This not just the smallest bird visiting the Maltese islands but also the smallest bird of the Western Palaearctic. Crown stripe yellow in female, orange in male. Since bird is often viewed from below, the crown stripe is often not visible. The dark eye with the large, pale grey eye-ring is a better character. Pale wingbars and pale tips of tertials. No supercilium. Behaviour essentially tit-like. Restlessly moving among branches in treetops, with frequent hovering to get at insects.

 

Diet

Mostly insects and spiders.

Longevity record

5 years 5 months (Found dead in Denmark, 8A 46230)

Bufula tal-Qamar

Regulus regulus

Passeriformes

Regulidae

Scarce

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Usually seen in