Little Brown Jobs? Maybe to some…

2012_09_18 VV - Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) 04
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

I had just been explaining to Mrs. HibernoManchego this past weekend what an LBJ was. An LBJ, if you don’t know, is what birders tend to use when referring to the many passerine birds of less notable plumage that are somewhat lacking colours that are not brown. Yes, those ones, the Little Brown Jobs. Such as sparrows, many of the warblers, and the less brightly coloured females of many others.

2012_09_18 VV - Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) 05
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

Out at Valverde the other day, there was a great flurry of activity in some of the trees on the track up to the volcano. To the casual observer they were just little brown birds flying about. In fact, speaking to some local ladies last year, they told me that they didn’t know they all were different. They just looked like little brown birds.

Of course anyone with an interest will spot that they are not. They are all different. The two species of flycatcher we see regularly in Spain are the the two above, the Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. These love to perch prominently and fly out to catch insects and sometimes even hovering momentarily.

2012_09_18 VV - Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) 01
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

The Zitting Cisticola, also known as the Fan-tailed Warbler really is little brown job, slightly smaller than the flycatchers, but closer inspection shows a very handsome bird with a long, curved beak. They really do amuse me the way they flit about the grasses and fly from here to there with their “zit-zit-zit” call.

2012_09_18 VV - Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) 03
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Then you got the Chiffchaffs. These are similar in size to the flycatchers and can be rather difficult to tell from other similarly plumaged warblers. They are best told by their song which is a sort of “chIFF-chIFF” for want of a better description. I have always found the descriptions of bird song in books a different language which really requires prior knowledge of the song to translate. So go to to learn what it really sounds like.

2012_09_18 VV - Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) 06
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Join us for our guided birding, wildlife and butterfly tours in La Mancha, Spain with Oretani Wildlife.

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