Sylvia communis - sexing spring

Common Whitethroat


Sexing Common Whitethroats needs a cautious approach since many birds (incl. some 3cy+) are quite intermediate and variation is marked. Even experienced ringers regurlarly make mistakes, see e.g. Waldenström & Ottosson (2000).

Many, but far from all, birds can be sexed according to the below:

2cy/3cy+: Males have pure ash grey feathers to crown (often with some brownish tips, if still fresh), greyish LC and a pinkish hue over the breast. Females, on the other hand, should show no pure grey on crown, no more than little grey on LC, no pinkish (but often a creamy buffish) hue on breast and a weak buff hue on the throat.
Still, due to variation, a few birds are likely to end up in the wrong catergory since males (generally 2cy) may show a very female like plumage and, conversely, females (generally 3cy+) may attain male like characters.

Male, 3cy+, May. A less colourful and still rather fresh male. Ash grey feathers are present (and partly visible) in the crown, and the breast has a slight pinkish hue. [1ES23852]

Male, 2cy, May. LC shows a variably greyish colour. [1ET28160]

Female, 3cy+, May. Brownish crown lacking pure ash grey and the breast is creamy buff (but not pinkish). [1ET28146]

Female, 3cy+, May. LC are dominantly brown with, at most, little grey present. [1ES23855]

3cy+, June, sex unknown. Example of a bird that does not quite fit into the categories and, hence, should be left unsexed (though perhaps most likely a female?). [1ES24765]

3cy+, June, sex unknown. [1ES24765]

Ringers’ DigiGuide is sponsored by: