An Eco-sustainable World
BirdsSpecies Animal

Locustella luscinioides

Locustella luscinioides

The Savi’s warbler (Locustella luscinioides Savi, 1824) is a bird belonging to the Locustellidae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Animalia,
Phylum Chordata,
Subphylum Vertebrata,
Superclass Tetrapoda,
Aves class,
Subclass Neornithes,
Superorder Neognathae,
Order Passeriformes,
Suborder Oscines,
Passerida infraorder,
Superfamily Sylvioidea,
Locustellidae family,
Genus Locustella,
Species L. luscinioides.
The term is basionym:
– Sylvia luscinioides Savi, 1824.
Within this species the following subspecies are recognised:
– Locustella luscinioides luscinioides (Savi, 1824);
– Locustella luscinioides sarmatica Kazakov, 1973;
– Locustella luscinioides fusca Severtzov, 1872.
The L. l. luscinioides is the subspecies native to central and eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal and North Africa. It winters in West Africa in an area stretching from Senegal to Lake Chad and northern Ghana, and probably also into South Sudan.
The L. l. Sarmatica is native to Ukraine, the Sea of Azov, the Volga region and the Urals; winters in northeastern Africa.
The L. l. fusca is found from Jordan and Turkey to Central Asia; winters in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Locustella luscinioides is a bird that nests in Europe and the western Palearctic region. It is migratory and winters in northern and sub-Saharan Africa.
This bird breeds in Algeria, Spain, Majorca, France, Sicily, Crete, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Jordan, Turkey and Russia as far east as Volga river. It winters in Algeria, Morocco, Sudan and Ethiopia. It is known as an occasional visitor to the United Kingdom (where some pairs breed sporadically), Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, Cyprus and Israel.
However, it presents a fragmented and rather discontinuous distribution in a wide band between the 36th and 60th parallel, throughout western, central and eastern Europe.
In Italy it nests in various central areas, in environments near bodies of water, but also peat bogs.
Its habitat is that of reed beds, marshes and lagoons with reeds, sedges and other marsh vegetation, perhaps with scattered willows or bushes. It climbs stems to sing in plain sight, but is otherwise difficult to see as it flits nimbly through stems and tangled vegetation and is rarely seen on open ground. It occupies similar habitats in its winter quarters, but can also be found in swamps or marshy places with open water away from reeds.

Description –
The Locustella luscinioides is a bird with a length of 14-15 cm and a wingspan of 18-21 cm.
Adults and juveniles are indistinguishable from each other in nature; the sexes are identical but the young specimens are yellower in the lower part.
The upperparts of the bird are a uniform dark reddish-brown, sometimes with a slight greenish tinge.
It has brown upperparts with a faint white eyebrow and whitish underparts with a white throat and beige-tinged sides and chest. The same light beige color with little evident bars is present in the undertail.
The chin, throat and belly are whitish and the rest of the underparts are sandy brown. In the breeding season both the upper and lower parts are slightly lighter.
The beak is rather elongated with the lower part light brown/orange.
The legs are brown.
The song is a trill that is often preceded by a series of low ticks that gradually merge into the trill. The bird sings from above on a reed head with an open beak and a vibrating throat. Both males and females sing.

Biology –
Locustella luscinioides begins its breeding season in mid-April in the southern part of its range and at the end of May in Northern Europe.
The first males to arrive occupy the best territories, judged by the density of reeds and sedges. When females arrive, they subsequently mate with the males who have the best territories. Later arrivals have lower quality territories and their reproductive success is compromised, usually because fewer broods are successfully raised.
The nest is built by the female on a small platform of reeds and is well hidden among dead reeds and tufts of vegetation. It is often made with Glyceria leaves, but some nests are instead well lined with herbs and fine leaves. It is usually not visible from above. Four to six (occasionally three) eggs are laid. They are greyish-white in colour, profusely speckled with rust-coloured greyish spots, sometimes in a darker band around the egg. These measure approximately 19.5 x 14.5 mm (0.77 x 0.57 inches). Incubation lasts about twelve days and is carried out exclusively by the female. This she also feeds the chicks when they first hatch with the male joining as they grow. The young fledge in about twelve days and there are normally two broods.
After breeding, the birds disperse somewhat into less densely vegetated swamps, change into their winter plumage and set off on migration.

Ecological Role –
The Locustella luscinioides owes its common name in Anglo-Saxon countries (Savi’s warbler) in honor of the Italian ornithologist Paolo Savi, author of “Tuscan Ornithology” (1827–1831) and “Italian Ornithology” (1873–1876). In 1821, Savi received specimens of a reddish-brown, dark, unstriped bird that was new to science. He published a complete description of the bird in 1824, and it became known by this name. The name of the genus Locustella derives from Latin and is a diminutive of locusta, “grasshopper”; this refers to the song of the common grasshopper and some others of this genus. The specific term luscinioides derives from the Latin luscinia, “nightingale”, and from the ancient Greek -oides, “resembling”.
This bird forms a pair with Locustella fluviatilis, and mitochondrial DNA studies show that both are closely related to L. lanceolata, and L. naevia.
In their relationship with their habitat these birds, upon arrival in the wetlands, flutter among the reeds and undergrowth and are rarely seen, but when they establish territories they climb to the tops of the reeds and sing from prominent positions.
They feed on insects such as flies, cockroaches, moths, grubs and damselflies. It is believed that even small worms are caught. Little is known about their winter quarters habits, but they occupy similar marshy areas, have been seen in cornfields, and may feed and roost in small flocks.
L. luscinioides is assessed by the IUCN in the Red List of Threatened Species as Least Concern. This is because it has a large total population and extensive range. The population in Europe is estimated between 530 and 800 thousand breeding pairs for a total of 1.6-2.4 million individuals. Given that Europe represents about two-thirds of its total area, the global population could be between 2.1 and 4.8 million individuals. Bird numbers may decline slightly, but not enough to justify placing this species in a higher risk category.

Guido Bissanti

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– C.Battisti, D. Taffon, F. Giucca, 2008. Atlas of nesting birds, Gangemi Editore, Rome.
– L. Svensson, K.Mullarney, D. Zetterstrom, 1999. Guide to the Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Near East, Harper Collins Publisher, United Kingdom.

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