Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Black-throated Green Warbler

Setophaga virens

In the east, some of the easiest warbler voices to recognize are the patterned songs of the Black-throated Green. As if to confirm the identification, the brilliantly colored male often perches out in the open to sing, perhaps on a high twig of a spruce. He actually has two song types, used in different situations: he sings zoo zee zoo zoo zee to proclaim and defend his nesting territory, and zee zee zee zoo zee in courtship or when communicating with his mate.
Conservation status Has declined as a nesting bird in parts of the northeast during recent decades. Elsewhere, still widespread and common.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Mainly conifers. Breeds mostly in coniferous and mixed forests, very locally in deciduous forest. Often nests around spruce, also in white pine, hemlock, red cedar, and jack pine. An isolated race on the southern Atlantic Coast breeds in cypress swamps. During migration, occurs widely in woodland and edges. Usually winters in foothills and mountains among oaks and pines.
In the east, some of the easiest warbler voices to recognize are the patterned songs of the Black-throated Green. As if to confirm the identification, the brilliantly colored male often perches out in the open to sing, perhaps on a high twig of a spruce. He actually has two song types, used in different situations: he sings zoo zee zoo zoo zee to proclaim and defend his nesting territory, and zee zee zee zoo zee in courtship or when communicating with his mate.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male,breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • immature male (1st spring)
  • immature female (1st fall)
  • adult male, nonbreeding
  • adult female, molting to nonbreeding plumage
  • adult female, breeding
Feeding Behavior

Searches for insects among branches, twigs, and bases of leaves, moving rapidly between foraging sites. Frequently hovers to take insects from underside of leaves. Occasionally catches insects in mid-air. Males tend to forage higher than females while breeding. In late summer, often forages in mixed flocks with chickadees.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3-5. Gray to creamy white with spots or scrawls of reddish brown. Only female incubates, 12 days. In some areas, up to one-third of nests are parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Nestlings are fed only by female at first, later by male. Young leave nest 11 days after hatching. Parents split up the fledglings, each adult tending half the brood for up to 1 month.


Young

Nestlings are fed only by female at first, later by male. Young leave nest 11 days after hatching. Parents split up the fledglings, each adult tending half the brood for up to 1 month.

Diet

Insects, especially caterpillars. Feeds mainly on non-hairy caterpillars during summer, as well as beetles, true bugs, gnats, aphids, and others, also spiders. Takes poison ivy berries and other berries in migration. In winter, may eat protein corpuscles of tropical cecropia trees.


Nesting

Males establish territories by singing, also by chasing and fighting with intruding males. Nest sites are next to trunk where two or more small branches fork out of conifer, usually low (often only a few feet above ground). The race nesting in southern swamps places its nest well out from trunk, and often higher (to 50' or more above ground). Nest (built by both sexes) is open cup of twigs, grass, weeds, bark, spiderwebs, lined with plant fibers, hair, moss, and feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Fall passage may last fairly late, extending well into October, even in the North.

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Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Fall passage may last fairly late, extending well into October, even in the North.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Thin, buzzy, lazy zeer, zeer, zeer, zeer, zee? or faster zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Wood Warblers Perching Birds

Black-throated Green Warbler

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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