Willow Warbler

Phylloscopus trochilus


Willow Warblers are slim, delicate birds of woodland, scrub, parks and gardens. They can be heard singing a melodious, warbling song from amongst the tree canopy. Willow Warblers are migratory birds, breeding in Europe and migrating to southern Africa for the winter. They are unusual amongst birds in that they moult all their feathers twice a year - once at their breeding grounds and once at their wintering ground. The reason for this is unclear. Like other warblers, they are insectivorous but will eat berries and fruit in autumn.

How to identify

Willow Warblers are green above and pale yellow below, with an off-white belly and eyebrow stripe. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are both very similar, olive-coloured warblers, so are best identified by their song: Chiffchaffs sing 'chiff chaff chiff chaff'. Willow Warblers have pale legs, while Chiffchaff legs are dark grey.

Where to find it

A widespread summer visitor.


When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Over the past 25 years, populations of Willow Warblers have declined, especially in the south of the UK. The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for Willow Warblers and other bird species. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Willow Warbler
Latin name
Phylloscopus trochilus
Tits, goldcrests and warblers
Length: 11-13cm Wingspan: 19cm Weight: 10g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.