Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Key facts

Scientific name: Curruca curruca
Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding birds: 74,000 territories

Conservation status: Green
Length: 45 – 60 cm
Wingspan: 72 cm
Weight: 1100 – 1250 g


Lesser whitethroats have a grey-brown back and rump with darker grey wing coverts. The breast and belly are off white and can have a pink wash in early spring. The uppertail is grey with white outertail feathers, and the undertail coverts are white.

On the head the crown, forehead, lores, and hindneck are dark blue-grey, and the chin and throat are white. There is a faint, darker ‘bandit mask’ through the eyes. The thin, short bill is black, the eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet are dark grey to black. Males and females look similar

Juvenile lesser whitethroats are similar to adults but are duller and may have a faint white eyebrow.


Lesser whitethroats begin breeding in early May and produce 1 or 2 broods a season. They build their nests at the edges of forests, hedgerows, and scrub, in trees or bushes. Both male and female build the nest which is a cup-shaped structure made from grass and twigs, and lined with hair, roots, and finer grass.

Lesser whitethroats lay 4-6 creamy white, smooth, glossy eggs with grey or olive blotches which are incubated by both parents for 10-14 days. Both adults feed the chicks which fledge 10-14 days after hatching.


In breeding season, lesser whitethroats eat mainly insects such as caterpillars, beetles, ants and flies. They will also eat nectar. In autumn and winter they eat fruits and berries.

Lesser Whitethroat

Where to see them

Lesser whitethroats can be seen in the UK between April and mid-October. It can be found in England, Wales, and southern Scotland. Look out for it in hedgerows, reed beds, and scrubby areas.


Agris Celmins/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The lesser whitethroat is unique amongst British birds in that it migrates via the eastern side of the Mediterranean rather than the more direct route through Gibraltar.

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