Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (ssp?)

Kuwait, December 2013


Chiffchaff, Kuwait, December 2013

Chiffchaff, Kuwait, December 2013

Chiffchaff, Al Abraq, Kuwait, December 2nd 2013

Certain Chiffchaffs wintering in Kuwait have enigmatic plumage and calls. The crown and mantle are olive-brown while the underparts are rather pale and have only restricted yellow streaking. However, there are evident olive fringes to the flight-feathers. The plumage lacks the rusty-buff or 'tan' suffusions typical of Siberian Chiffchaff. They have a distinctive call, which rises and then falls, the sonogram having the shape of a lop-sided and flattened 'S' (see below). The call can be heard here . In quality, the sound is rather in-between that of nominate collybita and Siberian tristis. The subspecies involved is subject to a great deal of speculation, with suggestions including menzbieri but caucasicus also seems to be a possibility. See <here> for discussion of Chiffchaffs in the Elborz mountains of Iran, of somewhat similar appearance but with a greyer tinge to upperparts and even less yellow (virtually white) underparts. The Iranian birds, which have a more-shallowly rising and falling call, occupy a region  spanning the ranges associated with caucasicus and menzbieri.

Sonogram of Chiffchaff call, Kuwait, December 2013

A. R. Dean

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