Key facts

Scientific name: Sylvia communis

Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding birds: 1.100,000 territories

Conservation status: Green

Length: 14 cm

Wingspan: 14 – 17 cm

Weight: 12 – 18 g


Adult male whitethroats have brown or grey-brown upperparts with rufous wings. They have a pink wash on their lower throat and breast while the rest of the underparts are whitish. Their tails are dark brown with white edges and tips.

Whitethroats have grey heads with white chins and throats. They have dark grey bills, light brown eyes with a pale grey eye-ring, and pink-brown legs and feet.

Females are similar to males except they are duller and browner particularly on the crown and cheeks, and they do not have the pink wash on the breast.

Juvenile whitethroats have brown upperparts, white chin and throat, and dull buff underparts. Their eyes are dull olive coloured.


Whitethroats breed from April to July. Male whitethroats build several nests and the female selects and completes one of them. The nest is a deep cup made from grass, leaves, roots, hair, and spider webs.

Whitethroats lay 4-5 olive eggs with darker markings which are incubated by both adults for 9-14 days. Chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10-12 days after hatching. They are independent after another 15-20 days.


Whitethroats eat mainly insects, beetles and caterpillars during breeding season. Outside breeding season they will also eat berries.  

Where to see them

Whitethroats can be seen all over the UK from April to October when they leave to winter in Africa, south of the Sahara. 


Albert Lastukhin/xeno-canto

Did you know?

In the late 1960s a drought in the Sahel caused a 75% drop in the breeding population in whitethroats because they were unable to find enough berries to sustain them through their long migration.

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