Common and widespread bird which breeds in open woodlands throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic. It is a migratory passerine which winters in southern and western Europe, southern Asia and north Africa. The female builds a domed nest on or near the ground, and assumes most of the responsibility for brooding and feeding the chicks, whilst the male has little involvement in nesting, but defends his territory against rivals, and attacks potential predators. A small insectivorous bird, it is subject to predation by mammals, such as cats and mustelids, and birds, particularly hawks of the genus Accipiter.
Its large range and population mean that its status is secure. This bird gets its name from its simple distinctive song, a repetitive cheerful chiff-chaff. This song is one of the first avian signs that spring has returned. When breeding, it is a bird of open woodlands with some taller trees and ground cover for nesting purposes. It is often found near water. The male common chiffchaff is highly territorial during the breeding season, with a core territory typically 20 metres across, which is fiercely defended against other males. His song, given from a favoured prominent vantage point, appears to be used to advertise an established territory and contact the female, rather than as a paternity guard strategy.