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The Cyprus warbler (Sylvia melanothorax) is a typical warbler which breeds only on Cyprus. This small passerine bird is a short-distance migrant, and winters in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or — less accurately — as songbirds, passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back), which facilitates perching. With more than 110 families and some 5,100 identified species, Passeriformes is the largest order of birds and among the most diverse orders of terrestrial vertebrates.
The passerines contain several groups of brood parasites such as the viduas, cuckoo-finches, and the cowbirds. Most passerines are omnivorous, while the shrikes are carnivorous.
The terms “passerine” and “Passeriformes” are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the eponymous species (the House Sparrow) and ultimately from the Latin term passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.
Like most Sylvia species, it has distinct male and female plumages. The adult male is a small typical warbler with a grey back, black head, white malar streaks ("moustaches"), and, uniquely among typical warblers, underparts heavily streaked with black.
The female is mainly grey above, with a greyer head, and whitish with only light spotting. The Cyprus warbler's song is fast and rattling, and is similar to that of the Sardinian warbler.
Together with Rüppell's warbler it forms a superspecies with dark throats, white malar streaks and light remiges fringes. This in turn is related to the species of Mediterranean and Middle East Sylvia warblers that have a naked eye-ring, namely the subalpine warbler, Sardinian warbler and Menetries' warbler.
Both groups have a white malar area, but this may not form a clear streak in the latter group; above the white, the heads of males are uniformly dark.(The Sylvia Monograph, A & C Black, London; Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006)
This is a bird of dry open country, often on hill slopes, with bushes for nesting. The nest is built in low shrub or gorse, and 3–5 eggs are laid. Like most "warblers", it is insectivorous, but will also take berries.
Range map from www.oiseaux.net - Ornithological Portal Oiseaux.net
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