Lesser whitethroat

©Margaret Holland

Lesser whitethroat

Scientific name: Sylvia curruca
The lesser whitethroat is smaller than its cousin, the whitethroat, and sports dark cheek feathers that give it a 'mask'. Most likely to be heard around woodland and scrub, rather than seen.

Species information


Length: 13cm
Wingspan: 18cm
Weight: 12g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

April to September


The lesser whitethroat is a medium-sized warbler of dense scrub and woodland edges that arrives in the UK in April. It is a secretive bird, so is most easily located by its rattling, monotonous song. Lesser whitethroats winter in Africa; they leave our shores in September and head east around the Mediterranean, rather than through Gibraltar like most of our migrating birds.

How to identify

Male and female lesser whitethroats are very similar. They are greyish-brown above and creamy-grey below, with grey heads, dark grey cheeks or 'masks', white throats and white chests. Lesser whitethroats are smaller than whitethroats, and have shorter tails and plain-coloured wing edges.


A widespread summer visitor.

Did you know?

Lesser whitethroats spend the winter in Africa, Arabia and India.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.