Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff  Phylloscopus collybita

Etymology : 

  • Phylloscopus : Greek word phullon – leaf; skopos – seeker
  • Collybita: Latin word collybistamoney-changer Chiffchaff was known as “Compteurd’argent,” from its song resembling the chinking of coins

Vernacular Names :Kash: Viritiriv, Chip-chip, Pun: Pidpiddi, Guj: Jalkitkit, Badamifutki, Mar: Chipchip 

Distribution in India: Widespread winter visitor in North, Central and parts of Western India.

Description: Size of 11–12 cm; wt. of 6–10·9 g.  It is a medium-sized, rather plain leaf-warbler with relatively “compact” primary projection. The nominate race has pale yellowish to whitish-yellow supercilium and fine but fairly prominent whitish eyering, contrasting dark eyestripe. The cheek and ear-coverts are uniform olive-brown; upperparts are olive-green, tinged dull brown, rump is a little brighter. The flight-feathers and tail feathers are brown, finely fringed light olive-green; almost entirely dull white or off-white below, breast side and flanks are washed or streaked with yellow, undertail-coverts variably washed buffish and white to creamy; underwing-coverts and axillaries are lemon-yellow ;iris is dark brown; bill is mostly dark brown to blackish; legs are black, sometimes dark brown. Both the sexes are alike in plumage, female is smaller than male. The juvenile has brown to grey-brown upperparts, yellowish-white underparts washed buffish on throat and breast.

Habitat:  It is found inlowland deciduous forest and woodland with low undergrowth, also parks, hedgerows, shelterbelts, overgrown cemeteries, large gardens and reedbeds. In breeding season it is found in mixed oak and conifer forests at up to 2000 m. In non-breeding season occurs in variety of woodland habitats, from small clumps of coastal scrub to willow thickets and reedbeds, and in more open habitats such as parks, gardens, cultivation and hedgerows and mangroves.

Food habits: It eats mostly insects and their eggs and larvae, arthropods;  small molluscs, seeds and berries. The nestling diet is similar to that of adults, but with higher proportion of larvae and aphids in early days. It forages alone or, in winter and on passage, also joins mixed-species flocks. It forages at all levels, from the ground up to tree canopy. It feeds chiefly by taking insects from among foliage in trees, bushes and low vegetation, sometimes from ground; also hovers, and makes short dashing sallies or picks prey from surface of water. It frequently dips tail when foraging or when nervous.

Breeding habits: They breed in Apr to Aug in Russia. The male, at first meeting with female, dive-bombs her, chase then ensues, male giving loud burst of song, both partners bill-clicking on contact. The male also performs courtship-flight, seeming to float down on outspread wings. The nest is a ball of dry grasses, leaves, moss, plant fibres and feathers, placed usually on ground or above it and well concealed in bramble bush , patch of nettles, grass or other thick vegetation. They lay a clutch of 5–6 eggs. The  incubation is done by female alone. The incubation period is 13–15 days. The chicksare fed mostly by female, male may assist. The nestling period is 14–16 days. Theyoung are independent 10–19 days after leaving nest.