Common Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 2,120,000-3,880,000 pairs, which equates to 4,240,000-7,760,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.35% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 12,100,000-22,200,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the overall trend from 1980-2013 was stable (EBCC 2015).


This species breeds mainly in mature beds of reed (Phragmites) on the shores of lakes and fish ponds, and along rivers and ditches and locally, breeds in willow bushes in marshland, in reeds on edges of brackish lakes, exceptionally in corn fields. It also forages in adjacent herbaceous vegetation, scrub and low trees, such as willows (Salix). On the non-breeding grounds and on migration it uses reeds, thickets and tall grass, often along river courses and near lakeshores but also away from water in secondary bush, acacia (Acacia) and Lantana scrub, forest edge and garden hedges. In western and central Europe, breeding occurs from May to July or August, and in north-west Africa it breeds in April-July. The nest is a deep cup neatly woven from split reed blades, reed inflorescences, plant down and grass stems and lined with finer material. It is suspended from two to eight vertical reed stems, usually 15–200 cm over shallow water. Clutches can be three to five eggs but are most commonly four. The diet is mainly insects and their larvae, spiders (Araneae) and occasionally fruit, seeds and flowers. The species is entirely migratory, wintering in Africa south of the Sahara (Dyrcz et al. 2015).


The species has declined in some areas due to habitat destruction and the phenomenon of reedbed die-back, caused partly by eutrophication (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Reclamation of marshland has contributed to local declines (Dyrcz et al. 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Although this species is not currently threatened it would benefit from the conservation and maintenance of wetlands.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Ashpole, J

Dowsett, R.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Downloaded from on 17/04/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 17/04/2021.