IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus ibericus)


This small warbler is a rare spring visitor to the Southern UK and is very similar to their close relatives, the common chiffchaff. Our understanding of the species is limited, but their habits are likely similar to the common chiffchaff. They are found in woodlands with well-developed ground vegetation, mixed scrub habitat, or riverbank habitats.

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Alert Status:

Not Assessed

Estimated number of UK breeding

Listen to Iberian Chiffchaff song:


The Iberian Chiffchaff looks very similar to the common chiffchaff, it has green/brown upper parts with slight dark wings and tail and pale buff underparts. Their head is green/brown with a visible yellow eyebrow stripe (or supercilium). It is most easily separated from the common chiffchaff by its call as it is not the same onomatopoeic ‘chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff’ song.

Average Length: 10 cm

Average Wingspan: 18 cm

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Iberian chiffchaff diet

This species mainly eats invertebrates which they forage for in trees and dense vegetation. In the autumn it will also eat fruit when invertebrate numbers decline.

Iberian Chiffchaff Breeding and nesting information

We have a limited understanding of the breeding habits of this species, due to the fact they were thought to be the same as common Chiffchaffs for so long. The breeding season begins in April when 4-5 eggs are laid. The breeding behaviours are likely very similar to that of the common chiffchaff, but we cannot know for sure until more detailed studies are carried out.

Threats to Iberian Chiffchaffs

There are not currently any significant conservation concerns for this species. However, common threats such as climate change and habitat loss may cause problems in the future. Climate change causes droughts in their African wintering grounds which reduces their food supply during the winter. Loss of suitable woodland habitats and reduction of invertebrate prey in the UK could drive decreases in this species.

How you can help

Report sightings of this bird if you are sure they are not chiffchaffs.

Fascinating Fact

The Iberian Chiffchaff was only separated from the Common chiffchaff in the early 2000s, based on DNA evidence and their distinct song.
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BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Phylloscopus ibericus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/iberian-chiffchaff-phylloscopus-ibericus. Accessed: 06/11/2023

Catry, P., Lecoq, M., Araújo, A., Conway, G., Felgueiras, M., King, J. M. B., Rumsey, S., Salima, H., & Tenreiro, P. (2005). Differential migration of chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and P. ibericus in Europe and Africa. Journal of Avian Biology, 36(3), 184–190. https://doi.org/10.1111/J.0908-8857.2005.03445.X  

de la Hera, I., Gómez, J., Dillane, E., Unanue, A., Pérez-Rodríguez, A., Pérez-Tris, J., & Torres-Sánchez, M. (2020). Wintering grounds, population size and evolutionary history of a cryptic passerine species from isotopic and genetic data. Journal of Avian Biology, 51(9). https://doi.org/10.1111/JAV.02559  

Gordo, O., Arroyo, J. L., Rodríguez, R., & Martínez, A. (2017). Inability of Biometry to Discriminate Iberian and Common Chiffchaffs during the Autumn Migration Period. Ardeola, 64(1), 49–65. https://doi.org/10.13157/arla.64.1.2017.ra4  

Salomon, M., Voisin, J. F., & Bried, J. (2003). On the taxonomic status and denomination of the Iberian Chiffchaffs. Ibis, 145(1), 87–97. https://doi.org/10.1046/J.1474-919X.2003.00122.X  

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