Old World Warblers (Sylviidae)

Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) - HBW 11, p. 704

French: Fauvette mélanocéphale German: Samtkopf-Grasmücke Spanish: Curruca Cabecinegra

Taxonomy: Motacilla melanocephala J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Sardinia, Italy.
Sometimes regarded as forming a superspecies with, or even as conspecific with, S. mystacea owing to resemblances between nominate race of latter and race momus of present species; phenotypically and genetically, however, the two are very different. Both are part of a group that also contains S. undata, S. sarda, S. balearica, S. deserticola, S. conspicillata, S. cantillans, S. rueppelli and S. melanothorax. Geographical variation within each race largely clinal, becoming more complex in insular areas (especially Canary Is).. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Motacilla melanocephala J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Sardinia, Italy.
Sometimes regarded as forming a superspecies with, or even as conspecific with, S. mystacea owing to resemblances between nominate race of latter and race momus of present species; phenotypically and genetically, however, the two are very different. Both are part of a group that also contains S. undata, S. sarda, S. balearica, S. deserticola, S. conspicillata, S. cantillans, S. rueppelli and S. melanothorax. Geographical variation within each race largely clinal, becoming more complex in insular areas (especially Canary Is); race leucogastra sometimes synonymized with nominate, but recent study suggests its revalidation; variation (in colour and size) within islands, however, noticeable and demanding further work. Recently described race valverdei represents a new stage in the variability of the species, probably related to particular ecological conditions in the Sahara Desert. Proposed races pasiphae (described from Crete) and carmichaellowi (SE Italy) considered to fall within range of variation of nominate, and included within it. Race norrisae, confined to Faiyum, in Egypt, considered extinct. Four extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • melanocephala (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) - S Europe (around Mediterranean and its islands) E to Bulgaria and S Romania, W Turkey, and NW Africa (except Western Sahara).
  • leucogastra (Ledru, 1810) - Canary Is.
  • valverdei Cabot & Urdiales, 2005 - S Morocco and Western Sahara (S to Tropic of Cancer).
  • momus (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) - Levant from Lebanon S to extreme NE Egypt (N Sinai).