Streaked scrub warbler – Wikipedia

Species of bird

Eggs of Scotocerca inquieta saharae MHNT

The streaked scrub warbler (Scotocerca inquieta), also known simply as the scrub warbler, is a small passerine bird. It is the only species placed in the genus Scotocerca. It is found in northern Africa and south-western Asia. It is a bird of desert fringes, frequenting scrubby areas, ravines and gorges, and is mainly resident, although local movements can occur outside the breeding season.[2]

The genus is placed in its own family Scotocercidae. Some taxonomic authorities expand the family to include the closely-related Cettiidae and Erythrocercidae.


The streaked scrub warbler was formally described and illustrated in 1830 by the German physician Philipp Jakob Cretzschmar under the binomial name Malurus inquietus.[3][4] This species is now the only bird placed in the genus Scotocerca that was introduced in 1872 by the Swedish zoologist Carl Jakob Sundevall with the streaked scrub warbler as the type species.[5][6] The genus name Scotocerca combines the Ancient Greek skotos meaning “dark” or “darkness” (from skotoō “to darken”) with kerkos meaning “tail”. The specific inquieta is from Latin inquietus meaning “restless”.[7] The genus is placed in its own family Scotocercidae that was introduced in 2012 by Silke Fregin and collaborators.[8][6]

The streaked scrub warbler was formerly sometimes placed in the family Cisticolidae.[9] David Winkler and colleagues include this species in an enlarged family Scotocercidae that includes the families Cettiidae and Erythrocercidae.[10]

Eight subspecies are recognised:[6]

  • S. i. theresae Meinertzhagen R, 1939 – Mauritania, southwest and central Morocco
  • S. i. saharae (Loche, 1858) – east Morocco to Libya
  • S. i. inquieta (Cretzschmar, 1830) – northeast Egypt to northwest Arabia
  • S. i. grisea Bates, 1936 – west Saudi Arabia, east Yemen and Oman
  • S. i. buryi Ogilvie-Grant, 1902 – south Saudi Arabia and west Yemen
  • S. i. montana Stepanyan, 1970 – Iran, south Turkmenistan, south Tajikistan and Afghanistan
  • S. i. platyura (Severtsov, 1873) – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, north Turkmenistan and southwest Tajikistan
  • S. i. striata (Brooks W.E., 1872) – south-central Iraq, south Iran and Pakistan

Some authorities split the streaked scrub warbler into two species, the Saharan scrub warbler (Scotocerca saharae, including subspecies theresae) and the Levant scrub warbler (Scotocerca inquieta, including all other subspecies), an approach which has been followed in the most recent version of the Collins Bird Guide.[11]


Phylloscopidae – leaf warblers (80 species)

Hyliidae – hylias (2 species)

Aegithalidae – bushtits (13 species)

Erythrocercidae – flycatchers (3 species)

Scotocercidae – streaked scrub warbler

Cettiidae – bush warblers and allies (32 species)

Cladogram showing the family relationships based on a study by Carl Oliveros and colleagues published in 2019.[12] The number of species is taken from the bird list maintained by Frank Gill, Pamela Rasmussen and David Donsker on behalf of the International Ornithological Committee (IOC).[6]


The streaked scrub warbler is a small, skulking desert warbler which cocks its tail over its back. The adults are grey brown above, finely streaked with dark brown. They have a broad pale supercilium and a thin black eyestripe. The underparts are whitish with reddish flanks and vent, the breast is finely streaked. The tail is graduated and dark brown with a white tip. Juveniles are duller.[13]

The song of the streaked scrub warbler is distinctive and is rendered as “zit-zit dweedle-doolredle-doleed”[13]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The streaked scrub warbler is a bird of open desert with a sparse cover of scrub, especially wadi beds with a denser cover than the surrounding desert, as well as scree areas with bushes in ravines and gorges.[14]



The streaked scrub warbler nests in low scrub up to 1.5m above the ground, the nest is a domed structure made of grass and twigs and lined with feathers, fur and plant down. It has 1-2 side entrances, and if there is a second it is used only as an exit. The clutch size averages 3–5 but varies from 2–5, incubation is roughly two weeks with another two weeks before the young fledge.

Food and feeding[edit]

Its main food is insects but it will also eat seeds which may be very important in winter. It forages on the ground, fossicking through leaf litter and other debris under bushes, and into cavities but will also feed up in the vegetation at times.[15]

The streaked scrub warbler has a very wide range and is scarce in some places and common in others. No particular threats have been identified and the population is believed to be steady or declining slightly. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of “least concern”.[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2018). Scotocerca inquieta. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22713547A132103832. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22713547A132103832.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ “Streaked Scrub-warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)”. HBW Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  3. ^ Cretzschmar, Philipp Jakob (1826). “Vögel”. In Rüppell, Eduard (ed.). Atlas zu der Reise im nördlichen Afrika (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Heinr. Ludw. Brönner. p. 55, Plate 36 Fig. b. Although 1826 is printed on the title page, the descriptions was not published until 1830.
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1986). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 11. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 126.
  5. ^ Sundevall, Carl Jakob (1872). Methodi naturalis avium disponendarum tentamen. Försök till fogelklassens naturenliga uppställnung (in Latin, Swedish, and French). Stockholm: Samson & Wallin. p. 7.
  6. ^ a b c d Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2021). “IOC World Bird List Version 11.2”. International Ornithologists’ Union. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 205, 351. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ Fregin, Silke; Haase, Martin; Olsson, Urban; Alström, Per (2012). “New insights into family relationships within the avian superfamily Sylvioidea (Passeriformes) based on seven molecular markers”. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 12 (Article 157): 1–12. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-157.
  9. ^ Alström, P.; Fjeldså, J.; Fregin, S.; Olsson, U. (2011). “Gross morphology betrays phylogeny: the Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta is not a cisticolid”. Ibis. 153 (1): 87–97. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2010.01093.x.
  10. ^ Winkler D.; Billerman, S.; Lovette I. (2015). Bird Families of the World. Lynx Editions. pp. 442–444. ISBN 978-84-941892-0-3.
  11. ^ “Collins Bird Guide – special offer on revised hardback edition”. Rare Bird Alert. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  12. ^ Oliveros, C.H.; et al. (2019). “Earth history and the passerine superradiation”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 116 (16): 7916–7925. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813206116. PMC 6475423. PMID 30936315.
  13. ^ a b Borrow, Nik; Demey, Ron (2001). Birds of Western Africa. A & C Black. p. 635. ISBN 0-7136-3959-8.
  14. ^ Mark Beaman; Steve Madge (1998). The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic. Christopher Helm. pp. 648–649. ISBN 0-7136-3960-1.
  15. ^ Snow, D.W.; Perrins, C.M. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic Concise Edition Volume 2 Passerines. Oxford University Press. pp. 1241–1242. ISBN 0-19-850188-9.

External links[edit]