Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis)

GenusPhylloscopus (1)
SizeLength: 10 - 11 cm (2)
Male wing length: 5.2 - 5.7 cm (2)
Female wing length: 4.7 - 5.0 cm (2)

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis) is a small bird with darkish olive-brown upperparts and a rich buff colour on the breast and flanks (2) (3). The rounded tail is rather long given the species’ short wings (2) (4), with buffish-yellow undertail-coverts. The legs are greenish to yellow-brown (2).

The male and female Canary Islands chiffchaff are very similar, while the juveniles are browner on the upperparts with a less prominent olive tinge to the plumage. The underparts of the juvenile are yellow-white with a smoke-brown tinge on the breast and throat, and the feather texture is loose and fluffy (2).

The rich, intense song of the Canary Islands chiffchaff is a relatively deep ‘chip, cheep, cheep, chip, chip, cheep’ (2). The Canary Islands chiffchaff has a variety of calls, including a typical ‘hweet’ and a very short metallic ‘chek’ (4).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is a non-migratory species occurring on El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, Spain (2) (3) (5).

Historically, the paler eastern subspecies, Phylloscopus canariensis exsul, was found on Lanzarote and possibly Fuerteventura, but went extinct sometime before 1986 (3).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff is dependent on trees (2). It prefers open, temperate mature forests (5), particularly coniferous, mixed and broadleaf varieties which have a rich understorey of grasses and shrubs (2). The Canary Islands chiffchaff can also be found in Mediterranean-type shrubland (5), mixed shrub hedgerows and any open areas that have large, scattered trees (2).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff occurs from lowlands to mountain slopes at elevations of up to 4,500 metres above sea level (2) (5), often close to water or damp areas (2). In the winter this species can also be found in gardens (2) (5), orchards and marshes (2).

During the breeding period the Canary Islands chiffchaff is found singly or in pairs. This species forms small groups in the autumn and winter. The Canary Islands chiffchaff undergoes a post-breeding moult which is usually completed by late July (2).

The Canary Islands chiffchaff feeds primarily on insects. It spends much of its time foraging in foliage from ground level up to the tree canopy, although it will also sometimes hover in the air to catch its prey (2).

The movements of the Canary Islands chiffchaff are quick and frenzied, and it frequently flicks its wings and wags or flicks its tail. When on the ground, the Canary Islands chiffchaff either hops or creeps along through ground vegetation, while its flight is light yet jerky and flitting (2).

There are currently no known threats to the Canary Islands chiffchaff.

There are no known conservation measures in place which specifically target the Canary Islands chiffchaff.

More information on the Canary Islands chiffchaff:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2011)
  2. Baker, K. (1997) Warblers of Europe, Asia, and North America. A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.
  3. MobileReference (2008) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of European Birds: An Essential Guide To Birds Of Europe. MobileReference, Boston.
  4. Beaman, M. and Madge, S. (1998) The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic. A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.
  5. BirdLife International (October, 2011)