Status: A common and widespread summer visitor (April to September) to woodlands, as well as a common passage migrant and scarce winter visitor.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.
Identification: Very similar to Willow Warbler and about the same size as that species. Ages and sexes identical. Largely dull greenish above, slightly paler below. Has faint supercilium and dark eyestripe, as well as a narrow white eyering. Legs are usually dark, though pale-legged birds have been noted. In comparison to Willow Warbler, note duller green colour, dark legs, call and behaviour - frequently dips tail. Chiffchaffs from Scandinavia and Siberia can appear (rarely) on autumn passage in Ireland, these being almost pure white underneath and brown-grey above.
Similar Species: Other Warblers - Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler.
Call: A rather vocal species. The most frequently heard call is a quiet “hu-it”. This is rather similar to that of the Willow Warbler and some experience is required to separate the two species on call alone. The song is a distinctive “tsilp-tsulp-tsilp-tsulp”, (i.e. “chiff-chaff”) usually repeated five or six times.
Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on insects and other invertebrates.
Breeding: Not as common or widespread as the Willow Warblers with Chiffchaffs favouring deciduous woodlands and well vegetated hedgerows for breeding rather than boggy or marshy areas.
Wintering: The majority of the Irish breeding population migrate south to winter around the Mediterranean basin. A few may remain throughout the year along the south and east coasts, especially during milder winters.
Where to See: Widespread in Ireland. A very common passage migrant on headlands along the south coast.
Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey.