Blue-winged WarblerVermivora cyanoptera

adult male (breeding)
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Garth McElroy/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
immature male (1st spring)
Brian E. Small/VIREO
immature female (1st fall)
Gerard Bailey/VIREO

Family

Description

The simple buzzy song of the Blue-winged Warbler is often heard in brushy overgrown fields and thickets in the East during the summer. Although the bird is not especially shy, it can be a challenge to observe as it forages actively in the dense brush. In recent decades this species has been expanding its range northward, encroaching on the territory of its close relative, the Golden-winged Warbler. The two species often interbreed.

Habitat

Brushy hillsides, bogs, overgrown pastures, stream and woodland edges. Breeds in dry uplands in low shrubbery, brier patches, weed-grown fencerows, and bushy thickets; often in neglected fields or at the border of woods. Occasionally in deep swamp woods.

Feeding Diet

Insects and spiders. Details of diet not well known; probably feeds mostly on small insects, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, also spiders.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by moving about in shrubs and trees, often fairly low. Preferred method of foraging is by probing with bill into curled leaves. Also searches rather deliberately on outer tips of branches, perhaps probing into buds and flowers.

Nesting

Hybridizes with Golden-winged Warbler. Hybrids, known as "Brewster's Warblers," are fertile, and they backcross with the parent species and with each other; second-generation hybrids include a rare type known as "Lawrence's Warbler." Males sing two types of songs, one in territorial interactions and one in courting a mate. Nest site is well concealed in grass or blackberry vines, sometimes under a bush or sapling, close to or on the ground. Attached to upright stems of grass or weeds, especially goldenrod. The bulky nest is a narrow, deep, inverted cone, usually built by the female alone. Constructed of dead leaves, grass, and beech or grapevine bark, and lined with plant fibers or animal hair. Eggs: 5, sometimes 4-7. White, with fine brown spots on larger end. Female incubates, 10-11 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest 8-11 days after hatching.

Eggs

5, sometimes 4-7. White, with fine brown spots on larger end. Female incubates, 10-11 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest 8-11 days after hatching.

Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest 8-11 days after hatching.

Conservation

Despite being parasitized often by cowbirds, seems to be holding up well in numbers. May be gradually outcompeting and replacing the Golden-winged Warbler.

Range

Migrates mostly at night. Tends to arrive a little earlier in spring than the Golden-winged Warbler.

Listen

dawn song #2
alarm chips
dawn song #3
dawn song #1
song variant
normal song

Similar Species

adult male, Interior West, breeding

Yellow Warbler

The bright, sweet song of the Yellow Warbler is a familiar sound in streamside willows and woodland edges. This is one of our most widely distributed warblers, nesting from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, with closely related forms along tropical coastlines. Their open, cuplike nests are easy to find, and cowbirds often lay eggs in them. Yellow Warblers in some areas thwart these parasites by building a new floor over the cowbird eggs and laying a new clutch of their own.

adult male

Northern Parula

This small warbler is often hard to see as it forages in dense foliage of the treetops. However, it is easy to hear; the male seems to repeat his buzzy trickle-up song constantly from early spring through mid-summer at least. Northern Parulas hide their nests inside hanging Spanish moss in the South, or in the similar Usnea lichens in the North, where they are impossible to spot except by the actions of the parent birds.

adult male

Tropical Parula

Very similar to our Northern Parula, this bird is widespread in the tropics, from northern Mexico to central Argentina. In our area, it is mainly a summer resident of southern Texas, especially in low live-oak groves south of Kingsville. Most of these birds seem to disappear in winter, but a few can be found at that season associating with roving flocks of titmice and other birds in woods along the Rio Grande.

adult male

Prothonotary Warbler

In southeastern swamps in summer, this bright golden warbler sings from high in the trees. It is unique among eastern warblers in its habit of nesting in holes in trees, rather than in the open; it will sometimes nest in birdhouses placed close to the water. The name "Prothonotary" originally referred to a group of official scribes in the Catholic Church who wore bright yellow hoods, as this bird appears to do.

adult male, Pacific

Wilson's Warbler

A small and spritely warbler that moves actively in bushes and trees, often flipping its longish tail about as it hops from branch to branch. Typically stays low in semi-open areas, avoiding the interior of dense forest. Although it nests from coast to coast across Canada, Wilson's Warbler is far more common farther west. In the East it is seen in small numbers, but in the Rockies and westward it is often the most abundant migrant in late spring.

Vireo

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