Canary Islands chiffchaff -- 加岛柳莺 (Phylloscopus canariensis)

Canary Islands chiffchaff
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Canary Islands chiffchaff fact file

Canary Islands chiffchaff description

GenusPhylloscopus (1)

The Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis) is a small bird with darkish olive-brown upperparts and a rich buff colour on the breast and flanks (2) (3). The rounded tail is rather long given the species’ short wings (2) (4), with buffish-yellow undertail-coverts. The legs are greenish to yellow-brown (2).

The male and female Canary Islands chiffchaff are very similar, while the juveniles are browner on the upperparts with a less prominent olive tinge to the plumage. The underparts of the juvenile are yellow-white with a smoke-brown tinge on the breast and throat, and the feather texture is loose and fluffy (2).

The rich, intense song of the Canary Islands chiffchaff is a relatively deep ‘chip, cheep, cheep, chip, chip, cheep(2). The Canary Islands chiffchaff has a variety of calls, including a typical ‘hweet’ and a very short metallic ‘chek(4).

Length: 10 - 11 cm (2)
Male wing length: 5.2 - 5.7 cm (2)
Female wing length: 4.7 - 5.0 cm (2)

Canary Islands chiffchaff biology

During the breeding period the Canary Islands chiffchaff is found singly or in pairs. This species forms small groups in the autumn and winter. The Canary Islands chiffchaff undergoes a post-breeding moult which is usually completed by late July (2).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff feeds primarily on insects. It spends much of its time foraging in foliage from ground level up to the tree canopy, although it will also sometimes hover in the air to catch its prey (2).

The movements of the Canary Islands chiffchaff are quick and frenzied, and it frequently flicks its wings and wags or flicks its tail. When on the ground, the Canary Islands chiffchaff either hops or creeps along through ground vegetation, while its flight is light yet jerky and flitting (2).


Canary Islands chiffchaff range

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is a non-migratory species occurring on El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, Spain (2) (3) (5).

Historically, the paler eastern subspecies, Phylloscopus canariensis exsul, was found on Lanzarote and possibly Fuerteventura, but went extinct sometime before 1986 (3).


Canary Islands chiffchaff habitat

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is dependent on trees (2). It prefers open, temperate mature forests (5), particularly coniferous, mixed and broadleaf varieties which have a rich understorey of grasses and shrubs (2). The Canary Islands chiffchaff can also be found in Mediterranean-type shrubland (5), mixed shrub hedgerows and any open areas that have large, scattered trees (2).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff occurs from lowlands to mountain slopes at elevations of up to 4,500 metres above sea level (2) (5), often close to water or damp areas (2). In the winter this species can also be found in gardens (2) (5), orchards and marshes (2).


Canary Islands chiffchaff status

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Canary Islands chiffchaff threats

There are currently no known threats to the Canary Islands chiffchaff.


Canary Islands chiffchaff conservation

There are no known conservation measures in place which specifically target the Canary Islands chiffchaff.


Find out more

More information on the Canary Islands chiffchaff:



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Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
Periodic shedding of (usually) the outermost body covering (such as feathers, fur or skin) during growth and development, or at specific times of the year.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2011)
  2. Baker, K. (1997) Warblers of Europe, Asia, and North America. A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.
  3. MobileReference (2008) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of European Birds: An Essential Guide To Birds Of Europe. MobileReference, Boston.
  4. Beaman, M. and Madge, S. (1998) The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic. A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.
  5. BirdLife International (October, 2011)

Image credit

Canary Islands chiffchaff  
Canary Islands chiffchaff

© Leander Khil /

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