The size of Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) is about 10 cm in length. Graceful Prinia is a small, very long-tailed warbler of scrubby cover and gardens in the Middle East. A nondescript, scruffy, grayish-brown little bird with a very long, slackly feathered, graduated tail. Thus, closer observations reveal fine dark streaks on the upperparts and dull grayish-white under parts, but the plain head shows a small pattern apart from the streaked crown.
Graceful Prinia shows white tips and blackish subterminal bars on all but central tail feathers, a feature most obvious on the underside. Though, the confusion is unlikely, even if overlaps the range of superficially similar Scrub Warbler. Latter, which inhabits only rather barren and often the rocky desert country, has dissimilar supercilium and eye-stripe, however, and the square-ended tail is blackish on the underside (a conspicuous feature during frequent cocking and waving of tail), while in some races belly and flanks are darker.
Graceful Prinia is habitually seen in pairs or at small parties. Cover-loving but often climbs onto exposed twigs, cocking and waving long tails from side to side before diving back into cover. Distinctive song eagerly proclaims presence. The Male bird has a blackish bill in the breeding season (bill largely pale in adult females, non-breeding adult males, and juveniles). Though, the juvenile bird has a duller and browner iris (brighter and reddish in adults).
Graceful Prinia call is a rather drawn-out, rippling, ticking ‘breep’ or ‘prrrrt’. But, Graceful Prinia’s song is idiosyncratic: a nasal, tinny, somewhat buzzing ‘zerrwit-zerrwit-zerrwit’ or ‘chizzzik- chizzzik-chizzzik …’ usually monotonously repeated and frequently given from a concealed perch.
There are six races (palaestinae and deltae illustrated), which normally vary mainly in overall coloration and prominence of streaking. Race palaestinae (Israel to Suez Canal zone) is pale, but not as pale as irakensis of Iraq. Races deltae of Nile delta and parts of the Nile valley (intergrading with palaestinae in Suez Canal zone) and akyildizi of S Turkey are the darkest. The nominate race of Faiyum and natronensis of Wadi Natrun (Egypt) are intermediate.
The bird is commonly found. In addition to the mapped range, has bred Kuwait. Scrub, gardens, edges of cultivation, waste ground, and bushy cover (particularly tamarisks) by marshes, rivers, or canals. Related Reading – Ashy Prinia Call