Siberian Chiffchaff heads

Ottenby Bird Observatory, Sweden

Magnus Hellström

Here’s a photo with a slight nerd warning, primarily for those of you deeply into this subject…

During the autumn we caught 12 Chiffchaffs at Ottenby Bird Observatory, which we have recorded as Siberian Chiffchaffs ‘tristis’. Several were very typical but also some best described as ‘fulvescens’ (western tristis)- showing slight presence of yellow, and perhaps a trifle more olive above. The image is a rather amusing compilation, and gives a quick impression of the variation.

Click on to see closer/ larger size.


7 thoughts on “Siberian Chiffchaff heads

  1. Alan Dean

    Very nice set of images Magnus! What impresses me most is that, nuances apart, all share the characteristic ‘brown and buff’ livery with a slight ‘tan’ tinge (choose your own adjective!).Please keep us posted with other images you obtain in such helpfully controlled conditions.

    regards, Alan

  2. Brian Small

    Hi Magnus. You say ‘recorded as’. Did feathers fall out so you can test the phenology using genetic data? Or did they call also? I am not questioning the ID, just asking as it would be interesting. Brian

    1. Magnus Hellström

      Hi Brian. No, I just ment that according to the criteria we use, these were the ones that fell out as tristis, and were logged as such in the protocol. Most of them are rather straight forward, but a few may perhaps have been classed differently at other BO’s. Most, but not all, called. Only standard tristis call were heard. Feathers have been collected for some of these birds, but nothing have been analysed yet.

  3. Deryk Shaw

    Hi Magnus, nice set of photos and from head colour tones alone I too would have called them all tristis if they appeared here on Fair Isle! I note that a couple at least have a fair amount of yellow in the bill and the same birds appear to have more green on the visible ‘shoulders’. Did you take feathers from these ones?

  4. Magnus Hellström

    Hi Deryk. Feathers were collected from some of these birds (though not all), but at the moment I can’t really say which individuals that were included. We have conducted large scale feather sampling from Chiffchaffs during previous years, including individuals more or less similar to the ones you mention. mtDNA was used, and they were returned as tristis. Further, their call does not seem to differ from more classical coloured brown/buff individuals.


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