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Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat
Both sexes: Grey-brown above and greyish-white below with whiter throat.

In Britain it can be found on farmland, parkland, gardens and scrub, but can be difficult to observe as it usually spends most of its time in dense bushes and it is often only its call or song that gives it away. They are smaller than the Whitethroat; bigger than a Coal Tit and smaller than a Great Tit.

Like the Common Whitethroat it has a white throat that contrasts with its head, back and wings. The head and its relatively short tail are grey, though the outer tail feathers are white. The back and wings are grey-brown and the ear coverts (cheeks) are dark grey. The bill is blackish and the legs are grey-blue.

Juveniles are like the adults but appears drabber.

When male and female are seen together, the male may have a darker face mask and pinker tinge to the breast. Most likely way of telling them apart is when male is singing and female is taking food to the nestlings.

Female Lesser Whitethoat
Female Lesser Whitethoat

Scientific Name Sylvia curruca
Length 13.5 cm (5½")
Wing Span 17-19 cm (6¾-7½")
Weight 10-16 g (c. ½ oz)
Breeding Pairs 80000
Present Summer
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The song is a warble followed by a rattling series of monotonous notes that is reminiscent of the start of the Yellowhammer's song, but lower pitched, and is usually delivered from a well-concealed perch.

The call is a harsh "tacc tacc", very similar to the Common Whitethroat.


© Jean Roché,


As with most warblers the diet is formed mainly of invertebrates, such as beetles, flies, caterpillars, etc.

In the autumn, they eat fruits such as blackberries and elderberries.


A nest cup of fine twigs and grass, lined with finer grass and roots, and hair is built low down in a shrub by both birds.

The eggs are white or creamy-white with sparse blotches of grey or olive, smooth and glossy, and about 17 mm by 13 mm. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs, and both adults feed the young.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
early May 1-2 4-6 10-14 10-14


The Lesser Whitethroat is a summer visitor, arriving in April/May and leaving towards the end of July to spend the winter in north-east Africa.


The Lesser Whitethroat population may be in a slight decline, which could be a result of the loss of scrub in the UK and problems in its wintering grounds.