Identification of Spectacled Warbler

Published on 01 October 1991 in Main articles

he British Birds Rarities Committee has recently re-assessed all previously accepted records of Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspkillata in Britain. None remains acceptable after review, although some recent claims are still being considered. An explanation of these re-assessments follows this paper (Brit. Birds 84: 431-432). Past claims of Spectacled Warbler have resulted from confusion with, or non-positive elimination of, first-winter female Subalpine Warbler S. cantillans showing an unusually rufous wing panel, or Whitethroat S. communis in both spring and autumn plumages. This paper, rather than embracing all aspects of Spectacled Warbler identification, deals instead with these specific problems.227. Above, first-winter female Whitethroat Sylvia communis, Portugal, September 1987 {Hadoram Shirihai) 228. Opposite page, top left, first-winter female Whitethroat Sylvia communis, Portugal, September 1987 (Hadoram Shirihai) 229. Opposite page, top right, first-winter female Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata, Corsica, September 1988 (Hadoram Shirihai) 230. Opposite page, bottom, first-winter female Whitethroat Sylvia communis (left) and firstwinter female Spectacled Warbler S. conspicillata (right), Portugal, September 1987 (Hadoram Shirihai)Fig. 1. First-winter female Sylvia warblers in autumn: Subalpine Warbler S. cantillans (top), Spectacled Warbler S. conspicillata (centre), Whitethroat S. communis (bottom). Note Spectacled Warbler’s short primary projection, with fewer primaries visible beyond tertials; thinner bill; eye-ring thicker above than below eye; dark, clean ‘arrowhead’ pattern of central tertial; uniform pale buff underparts posterior to throat; and paler legs: see text for precise details (Alan Harris)The confusion which has occurred between Spectacled and Subalpine Warblers and between Spectacled Warbler and Whitethroat may surprise observers familiar with these species; both

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