Olive WarblerPeucedramus taeniatus

adult male
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO

Description

In forests of pine, fir, and oak in southwestern mountains, the Olive Warbler is common in summer and sometimes remains through winter. As it searches for insects high in the trees, it might seem like a typical warbler, aside from its soft whistled callnote and the copper-colored head of the adult male. But DNA studies show that it is quite distinct, so it is now placed in its own family.

Habitat

Pine and fir forests of high mountains. Breeds in mountain pine forests, generally at elevations of 6,000' and above. Prefers ponderosa pine, but also occurs in other pines, firs, Douglas-firs, and in adjacent oaks. In winter, at least some individuals move down into oak woodlands in lower foothills.

Feeding Diet

Probably mostly insects. Details of the diet are not well known. Has been observed feeding on insects, and these undoubtedly make up majority of food.

Feeding Behavior

Usually forages in the upper one-third of pines and other trees. Creeps over branches and twigs of pines, taking insects from the twigs and from the bases of needle clusters. When not breeding, often seen foraging in mixed flocks including other warblers and also titmice, nuthatches, and other birds.

Nesting

Details of breeding behavior not well studied, partly owing to the placement of its nest in the upper reaches of trees. Nest: Placed from 30'-70' up, usually in pine, and usually 15-20' out from the trunk on a branch. Nest (built by female) is an open cup of moss, lichen, pine bud scales, pine needles; lined with the soft white plant fibers from the underside of silver oak leaves, and rootlets. Eggs: Usually 3-4. Bluish-white with olive and brown marks at large end. Female incubates (and male might also?), but length of incubation period and roles of the parents are poorly known. Young: Probably both parents feed the nestlings, but details (including age at which young leave the nest) are not well known.

Eggs

Usually 3-4. Bluish-white with olive and brown marks at large end. Female incubates (and male might also?), but length of incubation period and roles of the parents are poorly known. Young: Probably both parents feed the nestlings, but details (including age at which young leave the nest) are not well known.

Young

Probably both parents feed the nestlings, but details (including age at which young leave the nest) are not well known.

Conservation

Within its limited range in our area, numbers probably stable. Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat with cutting of forest farther south.

Range

Thought to be mostly a summer resident in our area, but at least some remain through winter. Becomes common in mountain forests by March, and can still be found in numbers into October.

Listen

calls
songs #1
songs #2

Similar Species

adult male

Grace's Warbler

A young man named Elliott Coues, later to become a leading ornithologist, discovered this bird in Arizona in 1864; perhaps homesick, he asked that it be named after his sister. Grace's Warbler is still common in the Southwest as a summer resident in mountain forests. It spends most of its time high in pine trees, where the male sings his thin rising chatter and where the female builds a neat, cup-shaped nest among a cluster of pine needles.

adult male, breeding

Hermit Warbler

This warbler nests in forests of fir, hemlock, and other conifers, in the mountains and along the coast, from California north to Washington. It also winters locally on the California coast, almost always in conifers. No more of a "hermit" than other warblers, it often joins mixed flocks of birds in the mountain pine forests during migration. This species is closely related to Townsend's Warbler, and the two often interbreed where their ranges meet in Washington and Oregon.

adult male

Verdin

Tiny but tough, Verdins are adaptable little birds of hot desert regions. They are usually seen singly or in pairs, flitting about actively in the brush, sometimes giving sharp callnotes. The birds may build several nests per year, including new ones to sleep in on winter nights. These conspicuous, bulky stick nests may last for several seasons in the dry desert air, and often seem more numerous than the Verdins themselves.

Vireo

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