Plain leaf-warbler -- 纯色柳莺 (Phylloscopus neglectus)

Plain leaf-warbler flapping wings
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Plain leaf-warbler fact file

Plain leaf-warbler description

GenusPhylloscopus (1)

The plain leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus) is a small pale and relatively dull-coloured bird in the accomplished songbird family of Sylviidae (2) (3).

While its song is not as elaborate as that of other warblers, the plain leaf-warbler can still produce a variety of sounds, such as ‘twissa twissa’, ‘zilitzwits’ and ‘chit-chwich-chissa(2) with its song being described as a twittering, high pitched, musical warbling (3). It also produces a call, often emitted during flight, which is more of a harsh and low pitched ‘chur’ sound (2) (3).

Both the male and female plain leaf-warbler have largely greyish-brown plumage, with a thin blackish bill and blackish legs. The underparts of the body are a paler off-white (3) and a pale cream stripe above the eye is enhanced by a dark brown stripe that runs through each eye (4).

The plain leaf-warbler is a rather compact bird, with short, rounded wings and a short tail (3). The juvenile plain leaf-warbler is similar in appearance to the adult, but has slightly browner upperparts (3).

Also known as
plain willow warbler.
Length: 9 - 10 cm (2)
4.2 - 7 g (2)

Plain leaf-warbler biology

The plain leaf-warbler’s primary source of food is insects and larvae, which it extracts from the leaves and vegetation, often using its claws to cling upside down or even hovering to reach prey in difficult locations (2) (3). It also uses its speed and agility to make dashing flights in the pursuit of flying insects (2).

The plain leaf-warbler’s breeding season takes place between April and July. Little is known its actual breeding behaviour, but it is thought that each breeding pair produces a clutch of three to five eggs (2). The nests of the plain leaf-warbler are made primarily of grass, moss and feathers, and are often situated in vegetation about one metre from the ground (2). This species is usually seen alone or in pairs, but may from loose flock outside of the breeding season, when it will often feed with other leaf-warbler species (3).


Plain leaf-warbler range

The plain leaf-warbler is primarily found in temperate regions of central and southern Asia, from Turkmenistan to India (5) (3). It has also been found as a vagrant species as far north as Sweden (5). This species only travels short when migrating often, spending the winter in the same country in which it breeds (6).


Plain leaf-warbler habitat

Oak or juniper forests are the favoured habitats of the plain leaf-warbler (6) (3).

The plain leaf-warbler typically breeds above the tree line, at elevations over 2,400 metres (6). Throughout the winter, the plain leaf-warbler moves to lowland areas, where open woodland becomes its preferred habitat (7). This species has also been found in shrublands and grasslands, and has even been sighted flying through parks and gardens (2).


Plain leaf-warbler status

The plain leaf-warbler is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Plain leaf-warbler threats

The plain leaf warbler is not currently known to be facing any major threats. It has a large range, and its population is currently believed to be stable (5).


Plain leaf-warbler conservation

There are no known conservation specific measures currently in place for the plain leaf-warbler (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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Find out more about the plain leaf-warbler and other bird species:



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This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Tree line
The upper limits of tree growth in mountains or at high latitudes.
An individual found outside the normal range of the species.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2006) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Baker, K. (1997) Warblers of Europe, Asia and North Africa. Christopher Helm Publishers, London.
  4. Svensson, L. (1992) Identification Guide to European Passerines. Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm.
  5. BirdLife International (November, 2011)         
  6. Ticehurst, C.B. (1938) A Systematic Review of the Genus Phylloscopus. Trustees of the British Museum, London.
  7. Grimmett, R. and Inskipp, T. (2003) Birds of Northern India. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Image credit

Plain leaf-warbler flapping wings  
Plain leaf-warbler flapping wings

© Tommy Pedersen

Tommy Pedersen


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