St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

June 2013: Spotlight on… Common Whitethroat


Singing Common Whitethroat - June 2011

Singing Common Whitethroat – June 2011












Common Whitethroat
Sylvia communis

Whitethroats are members of the Warbler family, visiting Britain only in the summer to nest and breed. They are a tiny bird, smaller than a House Sparrow, but they have a very distictive, scratchy, warbling song. You can hear the song by clicking here

Whitethroats overwinter in Africa, south of the Sahara, and their fortunes are often dictated by conditions in their wintering quarters and on their arduous flight north in the Spring. It’s a long journey for a tiny bird to make!

They are called “Common” Whitethroats to distinguish them from their less common neighbours, Lesser Whitethroats. We have yet to record a “Lesser” at St Nicks.

As their name suggests, Whitethroats have a distinctive white patch on their throat – if you can see them! It’s been a strange few years for this bird at St Nicks. In 2011, there were regular sightings in half a dozen locations between May and August, with nest building activity observed in at least two locations. But in 2012, we had zero sightings – and the same pattern was repeated at Heslington, not far away, and another normally regular site for Whitethroats.

This year, we’ve had just one, maybe two individuals, but they have been very hard to see, and impossible to photograph. That’s why the shot above is from 2011 -taken right next to the Environment Centre.

Like many warblers, Whitethroats, although they sing from trees and bushes, nest on or close to the ground. We’ll be looking in the coming weeks to see if we can find any evidence of breeding activity of this lovely little warbler.

North Yorkshire: Migrant (summer) breeder.
St Nicks: Migrant (summer) breeder, first recorded this year on 18th May, during the “Bioblitz” weekend, and every week since then.

5 June 2013 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: common whitethroat, spotlight, Whitethroat