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Sylvia Warblers

Tuesday, May 5th 2020

In bird taxonomy the warblers are a large family of insect-eaters. Sylvia warblers live in dense thorny thickets and woodland and there are three species that can be found at Foxglove during May. The Garden Warbler (Sylvia Borin) is a summer visitor and has only just arrived back from tropical Africa. It has an 'anonymous' appearance; an olive brown-grey colour and has no obvious features. 

The Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) is also a summer visitor spending its winters South of the Sahara. The female (pictured here) has a brownish head whereas the male has a grey head. 

The Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) is similar in build to the Garden Warbler but is grey above and olive-grey below. The male has a black cap and the female has a rufous brown one. Since the 1960s, the number of Blackcaps which spend winter in the UK has increased. They can now be seen in some gardens all year round. Scientists believe this could be due to the bird food put out by people which makes spending the winter here a viable option for Blackcaps.

If you see a Blackcap during winter, you can add details of your sighting to Birdtrack, a BTO, RSPB and Birdwatch Ireland project. By collecting information about where birds are when, more can be learned about their changing behaviour and populations.

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