basic information

Lesser Whitethroat

Sylvia curruca (Linnaeus, 1758)

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Almaty, Republic Square
© Askar Isabekov


The Lesser Whitethroat is a little Warbler on size resembles the Leaf Warblers. The upperparts are mostly grey; underparts are whitish; with dark-grey crown and darker "bandit mask" through the eyes and the white throat. It is resembles the Greater Whitethroat from which is distinguished by lesser size, lack of rusty on the rump and wings, dark-grey crown and dark legs. The individual variations appear on darker and paler specimens, especially it appreciable on the crown and the mask colors; some birds have buffy tinge on all body. The underwings are buffy. The sexes are almost identical. In autumn plumage the adult birds have unclear supercilium, white strips above and below eyes; often plumage have buffy tinge especially on the inner primaries. Juveniles are very similar on adults but usually “mask” is not so expressive; inner primaries buffy (not rusty as on the Greter Whitethroat) tinged; the base of the bill is pale, bluish. The eyes of adult birds are brown pale mottled; of juveniles are dark-grey or grey-brown. Weight 10-15 grams, length 12-14, wing 5,8-7,2, wingspan 16-21 cm.


The Lesser Whitethroat breeds throughout in Kazakhstan including the desert areas. Widespread on migration. The detailed distribution in Kazakhstan please see in the chapter "Subspecies".


The Lesser Whitethroat is common breeding migrant, and abundant passage migrant. It inhabits bush thickets in deserts, semi-deserts and steppes; the river valleys, edges of deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests; on the plain and in the mountings up to 1500 m. On migration it occurs in forest-belts, reed beds, tall weeds thickets. It arrives singly or in small groups in early – end April (even in March in Southern Kyzylkum), but in northern areas in early – mid-May only. Spring migration finishes in the end of May. Breeds in separate pairs at 30-100 m from each other. Nest is built in bush or in small tree at 0.3-1.5 m high; from thin twigs, grass stems and leaves and is lined with thin rootlets, bast strips, and sometimes with some hair and vegetation fluff. The nest is built for 5-11 days; the male begins to build it, after females appearance the female lines the nest; but sometimes the male finishes the building alone. Clutches of 3-6 (usually 5) eggs is in first decade of May – early July. Both parents incubate for 11-12 days and feed juveniles, which fledge at 10-11 days old, in early June – first decade of July. It treated by some as two nested per year, but it's not proved. Autumn migration starts from early – mid-August. Majority of birds migrate in September, latest autumn migrants recorded in early – mid-October (some birds linger up to early November).


Sylvia curruca curruca (Linnaeus, 1758)

    Description. Upper parts are brownish-clayey, darker than on all other races. Crown is bluish-grey, ear coverts are brownish, slightly expressive. Wing length 60.0-72.0 (65.8) mm. Wing-tip is pointed, its top forms by P3, P6 < P3 on 4-5 mm; P2 = P6, rare P6>P2>P7 or P5>P2>P6.
    Distribution. Breeds in the forest-steppes and steppes of Kazakhstan from Volga-Ural steppes eastward to south-west foothills of Altai; in south probably to Novaya Kazanka and lower Ural river; upper current of Emba river; Kurgaldzhino; Karaganda; and Kazakh Upland. In south occurs on migration.

Sylvia curruca telengetica (Sushkin, 1925)

    Description. Upper parts are brownish-clayey, paler than on curruca, but darker than on the all other races. Crown is much greyer than mantle; ear coverts are dark-brownish, clear expressive. Wing-tip is broad, P6>P2.
    Distribution. Breeds on South East Altai and Kalbinsky Altai. On migration it occurs in the east parts of Kazakhstan, it is common migrant in Tien Shan.

Sylvia curruca halimodendri (Sushkin, 1904)

    Description. Upper parts are brownish-clayey sandy tinged, paler than on curruca and telengetica, but darker than on minula and jaxartica. Crown is greyish, less brownish, appreciably contrasting with other upper parts. Flight and tail feathers are pale-brownish with light edges on outer webs, secondaries with light tips. Wing length 60.0-70.0 (64.4) mm. Wing-tip is broad, its top is formed by equal P3-P5; usually P2 < P7. young birds whitish field on R6 occupies somewhat more than 1/3 of inner vane, narrowing along shaft to feather base; small whitish spot present on the tip of R5.
    Distribution. Breeds and also occurs on migration in Kazakhstan deserts from Northern Trans-Caspian area and Mangyshlak westward to Zaysan depression and Muyunkum desert; in north to lowers of Irgiz and Turgay rivers, Kurgaldzhino Reserve, Tusum sands and Betpak-Dala.

Sylvia curruca jaxartica (Snigirevski, 1929)

    Description. Much larger than minula. Upper parts are grayish-sandy buffy tinged, much paler than curruca, telengetica and halimodendri. The buffy tinge is slightly intensive than on minula. Crown is almost not differ from mantle, ear coverts are grey and slightly darker than crown. Wing length 64.0-74.0 (68.2) mm. Mostly P6>P2>P7, but rare P2 = P6 or P2 = P7.
    Distribution. Breeds in southern Kazakhstan, in north to southern border of Mangyshlak; lower and middle current of Syrdarya, and in spurs of Zailiyskiy Alatau and Kungey Alatau. On migration recorded in same areas and in foothills of Tien Shan.

Sylvia curruca minula (Hume, 1873)

    Description. Upper parts are sandy as on jaxartica intensive buffy tinged. On size it is lesser than other races. Wing length 58.0-66.5 (62.0) mm. Wing more rounded (often P2 = P7 or even P7>P2>P8).
    Distribution. Occurs rarely on migration in mountain, foothill areas and deserts of South-East Kazakhstan in April – May (at 23 May 2003 in Kumbar sands) and October (at 22 October 1938 near Chimkent). On Sorbulak lake one bird ringed 2 May 2004.


В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Sylvia curruca curruca
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Sylvia curruca telengetica
(Sushkin, 1925)
Sylvia curruca halimodendri
(Sushkin, 1904)
Sylvia curruca jaxartica
(Snigirevski, 1929)
Sylvia curruca minula
(Hume, 1873)

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unidentified birds


Анна Ясько: Кто-то из канюков/курганников.


Анна Ясько: В галерее есть гибрид черноголовой и желтоголовой. Вроде есть нечто общее в конфигурации брови.


Сергей Силантьев: Самка белошапочной.

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