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Common Chiffchaff

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The common chiffchaff breeds across Europe and Asia east to eastern Siberia and north to about 70°N, with isolated populations in northwest Africa, northern and western Turkey and northwestern Iran. It is migratory, but it is one of the first passerine birds to return to its breeding areas in the spring and among the last to leave in late autumn. When breeding, it is a bird of open woodlands with some taller trees and ground cover for nesting purposes. These trees are typically at least 5 metres (16 ft) high, with undergrowth that is an open, poor to medium mix of grasses, bracken, nettles or similar plants. Its breeding habitat is quite specific, and even near relatives do not share it; for example, the willow warbler (P. trochilus) prefers younger trees, while the wood warbler (P. sibilatrix) prefers less undergrowth. In winter, the common chiffchaff uses a wider range of habitats including scrub, and is not so dependent on trees. It is often found near water, unlike the willow warbler which tolerates drier habitats. There is an increasing tendency to winter in western Europe well north of the traditional areas, especially in coastal southern England and the mild urban microclimate of London. These overwintering common chiffchaffs include some visitors of the eastern subspecies abietinus and tristis, so they are certainly not all birds which have bred locally, although some undoubtedly are.

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