Status and distribution Breeds from Iberia (except Atlantic and Biscay coasts) through southern France to Italy including Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, in the east Adriatic from Slovenia to Albania, Macedonia and southern Bulgaria, throughout Greece and many Greek islands and in western Turkey. Also breeds in North-West Africa from south Morocco to north Tunisia.
Winters on the southern edge of the Sahara, birds leaving breeding areas in late Jul-Sep and return Mar-Apr. Some may winter in extreme south of the Western Palearctic in north Niger and occasionally reported elsewhere in North Africa in winter.
Vagrants recorded Iceland and the British Is, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Poland and Estonia, in Hungary, Austria and Switzerland and on the Cape Verde Is and in Kuwait.
British records (c.475, now about 15-20 recorded annually) are mainly at coastal sites and scattered from Shetland to Scilly. Most occur in spring, particularly May-Jun and are predominantly males. Most are of the nominate race but albistriata has occurred and possibly also moltonii.
Subspecies Nominate cantillans occurs in South-West Europe from Iberia east to Italy with moltonii on the islands of the western Mediterranean which has paler, more salmon-pink underparts. North-West African inornata has less pink and more brick-red underparts. In the South-East of the Region the race albistriata is found, slightly larger with broader white moustachial stripe and less extensive reddish plumage below. This race has recently been recorded as a vagrant on Menorca and Balearic race moltonii has recently been recorded as a vagrant in Belgium.
Habitat Typically found in maquis, garrigue and open oakwoods on dry, sunny hillsides. Sometimes in hedgerows and riverine scrub, may be seen in gardens on passage.