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Western Orphean Warbler

Curruca hortensis

The Western Orphean Warbler, Curruca hortensis, is a distinguished member of the typical warblers. It is a robust bird, larger than many of its relatives, such as the blackcap, measuring 15–16 centimeters in length. The males are characterized by their plain grey backs and pristine whitish underparts, with a striking dark grey head, a black eye mask, and a pure white throat. Their bill is notably long and pointed, and their legs are a deep black. The iris of the male is a striking white, adding to their distinctive appearance. Females and immature birds present a more subdued palette, with paler heads, buff underparts, and a grey back tinged with brown. The iris in these younger birds is dark.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Western Orphean Warbler, look for the adult male's dark grey head and black eye mask, which contrast with the white throat and underparts. The female and immature birds are paler with a brownish tinge to their grey backs. The long, pointed bill and black legs are key features to observe. The white iris in males is a helpful distinguishing characteristic.


These warblers favor open deciduous woodlands where they can forage and nest.


The Western Orphean Warbler graces the Mediterranean region during the summer months, extending its range through western Europe and into northwest Africa. It is a migratory species, retreating to Sub-Saharan Africa to overwinter. Occasionally, it is seen as a rare vagrant in northern and north-western Europe.


This small passerine bird is an adept insectivore, actively foraging in its woodland habitat. The species is known for nesting in bushes or trees, where it lays a clutch of 4-6 eggs.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a melodious and warbling "liroo-liroo," interspersed with scolding notes, a delightful symphony to encounter in the wild.


The Western Orphean Warbler's breeding habits involve laying 4-6 eggs in a well-concealed nest within a bush or tree, a typical practice among warblers.

Diet and Feeding

As an insectivore, the Western Orphean Warbler's diet consists primarily of insects, which it skillfully hunts in its woodland habitat.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Western Orphean Warbler as Least Concern, indicating that, for now, this species does not face immediate threats to its survival.

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Western Orphean Warblers on Birda

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Stuart Crowley
10 May 2024 - 10:56am

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