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The thrush-sized warbler is one of the largest species of Old World warbler. It measures 16–21 cm (6.3–8.3 in) in length, 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) in wingspan and weighs 22 to 38 g (0.78 to 1.34 oz). The adult has unstreaked brown upperparts and dull buffish-white chin and underparts. The forehead is flattened, and the bill is strong and pointed.
This passerine bird is found in large reed beds, often with some bushes. On their breeding grounds, they are territorial. In their winter quarters, they are frequently found in large groups, and may occupy a reed bed to the exclusion of other birds. Like most warblers, it is insectivorous, but it will take other prey items of small size, including vertebrates such as tadpoles.