Sylvia cinerea, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 514 (1790) ; Hewitson, i. p. 130, pl. xxxv. figs. 1, 2 ; Naumann, ii. p. 464, Taf. 78, figs. 3, 2 ; Gould, B. of E. ii. pl. 125, fig. 1 ; id., B. of Gt. Brit. ii. pl. 57 ; Seebohm, Cat. B. Br. Mus. v. p. 8 ; Saunders, p. 41 ; Lilford, iii. p. 50, pl. 25 ; ? S. rufa (Bodd.) Tabl. Pl. Enl. p. 35 (1783) ; Newton, i. p. 406 ; Dresser, ii. p. 377, pl. 57 ; S. fuscipilea, Severtzoff, I. f. O. 1875, p. 176 ; Seebohm, Ibis, 1884, p. 427.
Fauvette grise, French ; Papa-amoras, Portug. ; Pastorcilla, Span. ; Sterpazzolo, Ital. ; Dorn-Grasmucke, German ; Riet-vink, Dutch ; Graa-Groessmutte, Dan. ; Graasanger, Norweg. ; Torn-sangare, Swed. ; Hermaa-kerttu, Finn. ; Savirucha, Polewaja-Slavka, Buss.
Male ad. (Norway). Upper parts greyish brown, becoming ash-grey on the head and upper tail-coverts ; wing-coverts and secondaries broadly margined with rusty red ; tail brown with lighter margins, the outer feathers broadly edged with white ; under parts white, the lower throat and breast washed with dull rose, the flanks and under tail-coverts with pale buffy brown ; bill blackish brown, the base of the lower mandible yellowish flesh ; legs yellowish flesh ; iris yellowish brown. Culmen 0.48, wing 2.75, tail 2.52, tarsus 0.85 inch ; spurious primary 0.1 inch shorter than the coverts ; second, third, and fourth nearly equal, the second rather the shortest. The female is duller, has the head browner, and the breast washed with pale ashy brown, not rose colour. In the autumn the upper parts are more rufous.
Hab. Europe generally, north to about 65o in Scandinavia, south to the Mediterranean, wintering in the Canaries and Africa as far south as Damaraland ; Asia Minor, Palestine, and Asia east to Turkestan, north to Western Siberia, south to India, where it is rare.
Frequents gardens and groves, and is not as a rule shy. Its song is short and somewhat monotonous, often uttered when flying jerkily from bush to bush. Its food consists of insects and their larvae. Its nest is placed amongst grass or weeds or on a bush usually not high above the ground, and is lightly constructed of dried grass-bents and plant-stems, lined with fine bents and occasionally a few horsehairs, and the eggs, 4 to 6 in number, are usually deposited in May and are greenish white speckled and spotted with greyish olive and mottled or marbled with pale brownish ; in size they measure about 0.73 by 0.48.
Specimens from Palestine, the Altai range, Persia, Turkestan, and Somaliland (S. fuscipilea) are as a rule a trifle larger, darker and greyer, but are not even sub-specifically distinct.
110. Sylvia cinerea