Birdwatching: Sulfur-bellied Warbler, a songbird with a distinctive, high-pitched call

The Yellow-bellied Warbler (Phylloscopus griseolus) is a songbird that likes to stay in rocky areas around old buildings, and is often seen crawling over tree trunks, walls or rocks. The bird is not one to sit quietly for long in one place. It moves stealthily from place to place, usually so as not to be noticed. Therefore, one must have the patience to observe and capture the Sulfur-bellied Warbler on camera. No one can escape its single-note high-pitched cry, a sure sign of this songbird’s presence in the vicinity.

As for the characteristics, the male and the female are similar. It measures 11 cm. The main identifying marks are the brown upperparts, eye stripe, supercilium with orange-yellow leading edge, absence of wingbars, and brownish-yellow (dirty yellow) underparts. Like other warblers, it gleans insects from small branches and leaves. The Sulfur-bellied Warbler is found in rocky hills and scrubby forest habitats.

The species is found in small groups and tends to forage low in vegetation, sometimes even jumping on the ground. They have a single note appeal.

Although Sulphur-bellied Warbler is classified as a winter visitor, some areas especially foothills of Morni, Chakkimod, Bhojnagar in Interstate Chandigarh Region (ISCR) also host this bird in summer. Its habitat is rocky areas around old buildings.

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I was lucky enough to counter the Yellow-bellied Warbler during winter and summer. I first observed this species in Khol-Hi-Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary nestled in the Morni Hills in March 2020 and in Chakkimod-Bhojnagar last week when the maximum temperature was above 41 degrees Celsius. The Chakkimod-Bhojnagar region is part of the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. It is considered part of the ISCR.

Besides the Sulfur-bellied Warbler, there are six other warbler species in the ISCR.

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