The supercilium is a plumage feature found on the heads of some bird species. It is a stripe which runs from the base of the bird's beak above its eye, finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird's head.[1] Also known as an "eyebrow",[1] it is distinct from the eyestripe, which is a line which runs across the lores, and continues behind the eye.[2] Where a stripe is present only above the lores, and does not continue behind the eye, it is called a supraloral stripe or simply supraloral.[1] On most species which display a supercilium, it is paler than the adjacent feather tracts.[3]

The colour, shape or other features of the supercilium can be useful in bird identification. For example, the supercilium of the dusky warbler, an Old World warbler species, can be used to distinguish it from the very similar Radde's warbler. The dusky warbler's supercilium is sharply demarcated, whitish and narrow in front of the eye, becoming broader and more buffy towards the rear, whereas that of the Radde's warbler is diffusely defined, yellowish and broadest in front of the eye, becoming narrower and more whitish toward the rear.[4] The supercilium of the northern waterthrush, a New World warbler, differs subtly from that of the closely related (and similarly plumaged) Louisiana waterthrush. The Louisiana has a bicoloured supercilium which widens significantly behind the eye, while the northern has an evenly buffy eyebrow which is either the same width throughout or slightly narrower behind the eye.[5]

A split supercilium divides above the lores. In some species, such as the jack snipe, the divided stripes reconnect again behind the eye.[6] In others, such as the broad-billed sandpiper, the divided stripes remain separate.[7]

A supercilium drop is a feature found on some pipits;[8] it is a pale spot on the rear of the ear-coverts which, although separated from the supercilium by an eyestripe, can appear at some angles to be a downward continuation of the supercilium.

Wilsonia canadensis

The Canada warbler shows a yellow supraloral.

Limicola falcinellus Taiwan cropped

The broad-billed sandpiper has a split supercilium...

Lymnocryptes minimus (Marek Szczepanek) does the jack snipe.

Olive-backed Pipit- Kolkata I IMG 9872

The olive-backed pipit has a supercilium drop.

Saxicola rubetra 2 tom (Marek Szczepanek)
The whinchat has a prominent white supercilium.



  1. ^ a b c Dunn and Alderfer (2006), p. 10
  2. ^ Dunn and Alderfer (2006), p. 11
  3. ^ Kaufman, Kenn (2011) A Field Guide to Advanced Birding ISBN 978-0-547-24832-5, page 51
  4. ^ Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterström, Dan; Grant, Peter J (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins. p. 306–307. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
  5. ^ Dunn and Alderfer (2006), p. 394.
  6. ^ Hayman, Marchant and Prater (1986), p. 359
  7. ^ Hayman, Marchant and Prater (1986), p. 383
  8. ^ Harris, Alan; Tucker, Laurel; Vinicombe, Keith (1989). The MacMillan Field Guide to Bird Identification. p. 158. ISBN 1-85627-641-4.


  • Dunn, Jon L.; Alderfer, Jonathan, eds. (2006). Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-7922-5314-0.
  • Hayman, Peter; Marchant, John; Prater, Tony (1986). Shorebirds. Breckenham, UK: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-7099-2034-2.
Booted warbler

The booted warbler (Iduna caligata) is an Old World warbler in the tree warbler group. It was formerly considered to be conspecific with Sykes's warbler, but the two are now usually both afforded species status. Booted warbler itself breeds from central Russia to western China, and migrates to winter in the Indian subcontinent as far south as Sri Lanka. Booted warbler has expanded its breeding range westward in recent decades and nests now as far west and north as Finland.

It is a small passerine bird, found in open country with bushes and other tall vegetation. 3-4 eggs are laid in a nest in a bush or vegetation. Like most warblers they are insectivorous.

These are small warblers, especially compared to others in their genus. They are pale brown (weak tea colour) above and whitish below with buff flanks. The outer tail feathers have pale edges. They have a short pale supercilium, and the bill is strong and pointed. Sykes's is larger and greyer than booted, and most resembles an eastern olivaceous warbler.

Keyserling and Blasius gave no explanation of the genus name Iduna. The specific caligata is Latin for "booted" from caliga, "boot".

Brown-capped vireo

The brown-capped vireo (Vireo leucophrys) is a small passerine bird. It breeds in highlands from southern Mexico south to northwestern Bolivia. It is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the similar warbling vireo.

The adult brown-capped vireo is 12–12.7 cm in length and weighs 12 g. It has olive-green upperparts and a brown crown. There is a brown line from the bill through the eyes, and a white supercilium. The face and throat are off-white, and the underparts are otherwise yellow with some olive on the flanks. Young birds are buff-brown above with a weaker supercilium.

The brown-capped vireo has a sharp twiist call and the song is a rich warbled here you see me hear me sing so sweet, reminiscent of that of the warbling vireo.This vireo occurs in the canopy and middle levels of light woodland, the edges of forest, and other semi-open habitats at altitudes from 500 to 2500 m. Brown-capped vireos feed on caterpillars and other insects gleaned from tree foliage. They also eat small fruits. They will join mixed-species feeding flocks.

The nest is undescribed.

Buff-rumped warbler

The buff-rumped warbler (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) is a New World warbler that is resident from Honduras south to northwestern Peru and disjunctly in the western Amazon. It is found in forests at up to 1500 m altitude, always near water.

The pair builds a bulky domed nest with a side entrance on a sloping bank next to a stream or path, and the female lays two white eggs which are incubated for 16–17 days with another 13–14 days to fledging.

The buff-rumped warbler is 13-13.5 cm long and weighs 14.5 g. The nominate race M. f. fulvicauda of western Amazonia in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil is dark olive-brown above with a grey head, buff supercilium, and the conspicuous rich buff rump and upper tail that give this species its English and scientific names. The lower half of the tail is blackish. The underparts are whitish with some buff on the flanks. The sexes are similar, but the young bird is browner on the upperparts, head and breast, and its rump is paler.

There are five other subspecies.

M. f. semicervina, is found in the Chocó from eastern Panama to north-western Peru. It is similar to fulvicauda, but the buff area of the tail is larger and paler, and the buff on the flanks is more extensive.

M. f. motacilla, from the Magdalena Valley in Colombia, is similar to semicervina, but the buff area of the tail is paler, and upperparts more olive.

M. f. leucopygia, from the Caribbean slope in Central America is a distinctive form, with a much paler buff rump, a white supercilium, dark legs, and dark spotting on the breast.

M. f. veraguensis, from the Pacific slope in Central America is like leucopygia, but less spotted and with a somewhat darker rump.

M. f. significans of south-eastern Peru and northern Bolivia has a less extensive buff rump than other subspecies, and olive upperparts.This is a common species, easily seen and identified as it hops on the ground, pumping and swinging its broad tail constantly. The buff-rumped warbler primarily feeds on insects, spiders and other small invertebrates, taken on the ground or in flight in open areas along the banks of streams, puddles, roadsides or tracks. Pairs defend their linear feeding territories along a stretch of stream throughout the year.

The call note of the buff-rumped warbler is a hard tschik like northern waterthrush, and the male's song is a warble followed by a series of 8-15 ringing chew notes. The female may give a soft reply.

Dusky warbler

The dusky warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) is a leaf warbler which breeds in east Asia. The genus name Phylloscopus is from Ancient Greek phullon, "leaf", and skopos, "seeker" (from skopeo, "to watch"). The specific fuscata is from Latin fuscus "dark".This warbler is strongly migratory and winters in South Asia and South-east Asia. It sometimes occurs in North America in Alaska, and has also occurred in California.

This is an abundant bird of taiga bogs and wet meadows. The nest is built low in a bush, and 5-6 eggs are laid. Like most Old World warblers, this small passerine is insectivorous.

The dusky warbler is prone to vagrancy as far as western Europe in October, despite a 3000 km distance from its breeding grounds. It has wintered in Great Britain.

This is a warbler similar in size and shape to a chiffchaff. The adult has an unstreaked brown back and buff underparts. There is a prominent whitish supercilium, and the bill is fine and pointed. The sexes are identical, as with most warblers, but young birds are more olive-tinged above. Like most warblers, it is insectivorous, but will take other small food items, including berries.

The song is a monotonous whistle, and the call is a harsh check. The call is often the first clue that this typically skulking species is present, away from the breeding grounds.

Long-tailed meadowlark

The long-tailed meadowlark (Leistes loyca) is a passerine bird of southern South America and the Falkland Islands, belonging to the meadowlark genus Leistes in the icterid family that looks very similar to the related endangered species, the Pampas meadowlark.

It is 25 to 28 cm long with a fairly long tail and a long, pointed bill. The male is mostly dark brown with blackish streaking. The breast and throat are bright red and there is a white spot on the face near the base of the bill. The bold supercilium is white behind the eye and red in front of it. Females are paler than the males with the red markings restricted to a wash on the belly and the supercilium and throat are buff.

It breeds in southern Chile and southern and western parts of Argentina. Some birds migrate northwards in winter. An endemic subspecies, L. loyca falklandica, occurs in the Falkland Islands, where it is known as the military starling. Long-tailed meadowlarks are found in open habitats such as grassland where they forage on the ground, feeding mainly on invertebrates.

The nest is made of dry grass and is built by the female. It is placed on or near the ground amongst grass. Whenever the female leaves the nest, she first walks a few meters from it hiding among the dry grass in order to prevent the nest from being found by predators who see her leave. The same method is used when arriving at the nest, she first lands a few meters from the nest and then walks towards it. Two clutches of two to four eggs are laid during the breeding season. They are bluish-white with dark blotches and streaks.

Olive-backed pipit

The olive-backed pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) is a small passerine bird of the pipit (Anthus) genus, which breeds across southern, north central and eastern Asia, as well as in the north-eastern European Russia. It is a long-distance migrant moving in winter to southern Asia and Indonesia. Sometimes it is also called Indian pipit or Hodgson's pipit, as well as tree pipit owing to its resemblance with the tree pipit. However, its back is more olive-toned and less streaked than that species, and its head pattern is different with a better-marked supercilium.

The genus name Anthus is from Latin and is the name for a small bird of grasslands. The specific hodgsoni commemorates English diplomat and collector Brian Houghton Hodgson.

Paddyfield warbler

The paddyfield warbler (Acrocephalus agricola) is a species of marsh warbler (family Acrocephalidae). It was formerly included in the "Old World warbler" assemblage. The Manchurian reed warbler (A. tangorum) was (and sometimes still is) included in A. agricola as a subspecies.

The genus name Acrocephalus is from Ancient Greek akros, "highest", and kephale, "head". It is possible that Naumann and Naumann thought akros meant "sharp-pointed". The specific agricola is from Latin and means "farmer".It breeds in temperate central Asia. It is migratory, wintering in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is a rare vagrant to western Europe although there are small breeding populations along the western shores of the Black Sea around the border between Bulgaria and Romania. This passerine bird is a species found in low vegetation such as long grass, reeds and rice. 4-5 eggs are laid in a nest in grass.

At 13 centimetres (5.1 in) long with a wingspan of 15–17.5 centimetres (5.9–6.9 in), Paddyfield is close in size to the Eurasian reed warbler but with shorter bill and wingspan. The adult has an unstreaked pale brown back and buff underparts, with a warm brown rump. There is a clearer whitish supercilium and the bill is short and pointed. The sexes are identical, as with most warblers, but young birds are richer buff below. Like most warblers, it is insectivorous.

The song is fast and similar to marsh warbler, with much mimicry and typically acrocephaline whistles added. Its song is weaker and more rhythmic than that of its relative.

Plain-backed pipit

The plain-backed pipit or plain pipit (Anthus leucophrys) is a medium-sized passerine bird which is a resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

It is found in open habitats, especially short grassland and cultivation. It builds its cup-shaped nest on the ground and usually lays three eggs. Like other pipits, this species is insectivorous.

The plain-backed pipit is a large pipit at 17 cm, but is otherwise an undistinguished looking species, faintly streaked grey-brown above and pale below with light breast streaking. It has a strong white supercilium, and dark moustachial stripes. It has long legs and tail, and a long dark bill. Sexes are similar, but juveniles have warmer brown upperparts.

Some care must be taken to distinguish this species from wintering tawny pipits, Anthus campestris. The plain-backed pipit is sturdier and darker than the Tawny, and stands more upright. Perhaps the best distinction is the characteristic "ssissik" call, quite different from the tawny pipit's "tchilip".

Rufous-winged buzzard

The rufous-winged buzzard (Butastur liventer) is an Asian bird of prey. It is a resident breeder in southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia. It is a species of deciduous forest and second growth up to 800 m.

The adult rufous-winged buzzard is 38–43 cm long. It has a grey head and underparts, with some streaking on the crown, neck and breast. The rest of the upperparts are rufous grey, and the uppertail is bright rufous. In flight, from above it shows rufous-chestnut flight feathers and the rufous uppertail, and from below it has a grey body, white underwing coverts, and greyish flight feathers and undertail. The juvenile is duller and browner, with a brown-grey head and white supercilium.

This species is similar in size and shape to the migratory grey-faced buzzard, but that species has browner upperparts and tail, a white throat, and brown-barred white belly.

The rufous-winged buzzard eats lizards, small mammals and large insects. Its call is a shrill pit-piu.

Rustic bunting

The rustic bunting (Emberiza rustica) is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae. The genus name Emberiza is from Old German Embritz, a bunting. The specific rustica is Latin for "rustic, simple".It breeds across northern Europe and Asia. It is migratory, wintering in south-east Asia, Japan, and eastern China. It is a rare wanderer to western Europe.

It breeds in wet coniferous woodland. Four to six eggs are laid in a nest in a bush or on the ground. Its natural food consists of seeds, and when feeding young, insects.

This bird is similar in size to a reed bunting. It has white underparts with reddish flank, pink legs and a pink lower mandible. The summer male has a black head with a white throat and supercilium and a reddish breast band.

The female has a heavily streaked brown back and brown face with a whitish supercilium. She resembles a female reed bunting, but has the reddish flank streaks, a chestnut nape and a pink, not grey, lower mandible.

The call is a distinctive zit, and the song is a melancholic delee-deloo-delee.

Siberian rubythroat

The Siberian rubythroat (Calliope calliope) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family, Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher of the family Muscicapidae. The Siberian rubythroat and similar small European species are often called chats.

It is a migratory insectivorous species breeding in mixed coniferous forests with undergrowth in Siberia. It nests near the ground. It winters in Thailand, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh (Pl. See wintering range map). It is an extremely rare vagrant to Western Europe, having occurred on a very few occasions as far west as Britain. It is also an extremely rare vagrant to the Aleutian Islands, most notably on Attu Island.This species is slightly larger than the European robin. It is plain brown above except for the distinctive black tail with red side patches. It has a strong white supercilium. The male has a red throat edged with a narrow black and then a broad white border. It has a strong white supercilium. Females lack the brightly coloured throat and borders. The male has a song similar to a harder version of the garden warbler.

The Siberian rubythroat was previously placed in the genus Luscinia. A large molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010 found that Luscinia was not monophyletic. The genus was therefore split and several species including the Siberian rubythroat as the type species were moved to the reinstated genus Calliope. Calliope, from classical Greek meaning beautiful-voiced, was one of the muses in Greek mythology and presided over eloquence and heroic poetry.

Sooty-capped bush tanager

The sooty-capped bush tanager (Chlorospingus pileatus) is a small passerine bird traditionally placed in the family Thraupidae, but now viewed closer to Arremonops in the Passerellidae. This bird is an endemic resident breeder in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama.

The sooty-capped bush tanager is found in mossy mountain forests, second growth and adjacent bushy clearings, typically from 1600 m altitude to above the timberline. The bulky cup nest is built on bank, in a dense bush, or hidden amongst epiphytes up to 11 m high in a tree. The normal clutch is two pink-brown eggs marked with white.

The adult sooty-capped bush tanager is 13.5 cm long and weighs 20g. The adult has a blackish head with a white supercilium and a grey throat. It has olive upperparts and yellow underparts, becoming white on the belly. Some individuals in the Irazu-Turrialba area are greyer and lack yellow in the underparts. Immatures are browner-headed, duller below, and have a duller olive-tinged supercilium. This species is easily distinguished from common bush tanager by its blacker head and obvious supercilium.

Sooty-capped bush tanagers occur in small groups, or as part of a mixed-species feeding flock. This species feeds on insects, spiders and small fruits.

The sooty-capped bush tanager's call is a high tseet tseet, and the song is a scratchy seechur seechur see see seechur seechur with variations.

Stilt sandpiper

The stilt sandpiper (Calidris himantopus or Micropalama himantopus) is a small shorebird. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus name kalidris or skalidris is a term used by Aristotle for some grey-coloured waterside birds. The specific himantopus means "strap foot" or "thong foot".This sandpiper bears some resemblance to the smaller calidrid sandpipers or "stints". DNA sequence information is incapable of determining whether it should be placed in Calidris or in the monotypic genus Micropalama. It appears most closely allied with the curlew sandpiper, which is another aberrant species only tentatively placed in Calidris and could conceivably be separated with it in Erolia.

The stilt sandpiper breeds in the open arctic tundra of North America. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering mainly in northern South America. It occurs as a rare vagrant in western Europe, Japan and northern Australia.This species nests on the ground, laying three or four eggs. The male has a display flight. Outside the breeding season, this bird is normally found on inland waters, rather than open coasts.

This species resembles the curlew sandpiper in its curved bill, long neck, pale supercilium and white rump. It is readily distinguished from that species by its much longer and paler legs, which give rise to its common and scientific names. It also lacks an obvious wing bar in flight.

Breeding adults are distinctive, heavily barred beneath, and with reddish patches above and below the supercilium. The back is brown with darker feather centres. Winter plumage is basically gray above and white below.

Juvenile stilt sandpipers resemble the adults in their strong head pattern and brownish back, but they are not barred below, and show white fringes on the back feathering.

These birds forage on muddy, picking up food by sight, often jabbing like the dowitchers with which they often associate. They mainly eat insects and other invertebrates.


A stint is one of several very small waders in the paraphyletic "Calidris" assemblage – often separated in Erolia – which in North America are known as peeps. They are scolopacid waders much similar in ecomorphology to their distant relatives, the charadriid plovers.

Some of these birds are difficult to identify because of the similarity between species, and various breeding, non-breeding, juvenile, and moulting plumages. In addition, some plovers are also similarly patterned, especially in winter. With a few exceptions, stints usually have a fairly stereotypical color pattern, being brownish above and lighter – usually white – on much of the underside. They often have a lighter supercilium above brownish cheeks.

Wandering tattler

The wandering tattler (Tringa incana) (formerly Heteroscelus incanus: Pereira & Baker, 2005; Banks et al., 2006), is a medium-sized wading bird. It is similar in appearance to the closely related gray-tailed tattler, T. brevipes. The tattlers are unique among the species of Tringa for having unpatterned, greyish wings and backs, and a scaly breast pattern extending more or less onto the belly in breeding plumage, in which both also have a rather prominent supercilium.

These birds have stocky bodies with gray upperparts, underwings, face and neck and a white belly. They have short dark yellow legs and a dark gray bill. Adults in breeding plumage are heavily barred underneath.

In summer, they are found in far-eastern Russia, Alaska, portions of the California coast and northwestern Canada. They nest in rocky areas along mountain streams. At other times, they are found on rocky islands in the southwest Pacific and on rocky Pacific coasts from California to South America and as far as Australia.

They feed on aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans and marine worms. During breeding season, they also eat insects. While wading, they forage actively, making jerky bobbing movements.

Feeding behaviors can include repeated returns to the same location over short periods of time. They can be seen flying low over a rocky coastline or along a jetty.

The female lays 4 olive-colored eggs in a shallow depression. Both parents incubate and help feed the young, who are soon able to forage for themselves.

The call is a rapid trill of accelerating, descending notes of decreasing volume.

Water pipit

The water pipit (Anthus spinoletta) is a small passerine bird which breeds in the mountains of Southern Europe and Southern Asia eastwards to China. It is a short-distance migrant; many birds move to lower altitudes or wet open lowlands in winter.

The water pipit in breeding plumage has greyish-brown upperparts, weakly streaked with darker brown, and pale pink-buff underparts fading to whitish on the lower belly. The head is grey with a broad white supercilium ("eyebrow"), and the outer tail feathers are white. In winter, the head is grey-brown, the supercilium is duller, the upperparts are more streaked, and the underparts are white, streaked lightly with brown on the breast and flanks. There are only minor differences between the three subspecies, the sexes are almost identical, and young birds resemble adults. The water pipit's song is delivered from a perch or in flight, and consists of four or five blocks, each consisting of about six repetitions of a different short note.

Water pipits construct a cup-like nest on the ground under vegetation or in cliff crevices and lay four to six speckled grey-ish white eggs, which hatch in about two weeks with a further 14–15 days to fledging. Although pipits occasionally catch insects in flight, they feed mainly on small invertebrates picked off the ground or vegetation, and also some plant material.

The water pipit may be hunted by birds of prey, infested by parasites such as fleas, or act as an involuntary host to the common cuckoo, but overall its population is large and stable, and it is therefore evaluated as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Western yellow wagtail

The western yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) is a small passerine in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also includes the pipits and longclaws.

This species breeds in much of temperate Europe and Asia. It is resident in the milder parts of its range, such as western Europe, but northern and eastern populations migrate to Africa and south Asia.

It is a slender 15–16 cm long bird, with the characteristic long, constantly wagging tail of its genus. It is the shortest tailed of the European wagtails. The breeding adult male is basically olive above and yellow below. In other plumages, the yellow may be diluted by white. The heads of breeding males come in a variety of colours and patterns depending on subspecies.

The call is a high-pitched jeet.This insectivorous bird inhabits open country near water, such as wet meadows. It nests in tussocks, laying 4–8 speckled eggs.


The whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) is a small migratory passerine bird breeding in Europe and western Asia and wintering in central Africa. At one time considered to be in the thrush family, Turdidae, it is now placed in the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. Both sexes have a strong supercilium, brownish upper parts mottled darker, a pale throat and breast, a pale buff to whitish belly, and a blackish tail with white bases to the outer tail feathers, but in the breeding season, the male has an orange-buff throat and breast.

The whinchat is a solitary species, favouring open grassy country with rough vegetation and scattered small shrubs. It perches in elevated locations ready to pounce on the insects and other small invertebrates that form its diet. The nest is built by the female on the ground in coarse vegetation, with a clutch of four to seven eggs being laid. The hen incubates the eggs for about thirteen days and then both parents feed the nestlings. Fledging takes place about eighteen days after hatching and the parents continue to feed the young for another fortnight. Moulting takes place in late summer before the migration southwards, and again on the wintering grounds in Africa before the migration northwards in spring. The whinchat is a common species with a wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as being of "least concern".

White-browed bulbul

The white-browed bulbul (Pycnonotus luteolus) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is a resident breeder in Sri Lanka and peninsular India. Largely olive coloured above with whitish underparts, it has a pale supercilium and a yellow vent. They are found in dense scrub habitats, where they skulk within vegetation and can be difficult to see although their loud and distinct burst of calls is distinctive.


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