Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Blackburnian Warbler

Setophaga fusca

A fiery gem of the treetops. In the northern forest in summer, the male Blackburnian Warbler may perch on the topmost twig of a spruce, showing off the flaming orange of his throat as he sings his thin, wiry song. The female also stays high in the conifers, and the nest is usually built far above the ground. Long-distance migrants, most Blackburnians spend the winter in South America, where they are often common in mountain forest in the Andes.
Conservation status May be especially vulnerable to loss of wintering habitat, with cutting of forest at mid-levels in mountains in the tropics.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Woodlands; conifers in summer. Breeds in boreal coniferous and mixed forests, especially spruce and hemlock. In southern part of breeding range in Appalachians, can inhabit completely deciduous forests. When migrating, occurs in all kinds of trees and brush. During winter in the tropics, usually in humid mountain forest.
A fiery gem of the treetops. In the northern forest in summer, the male Blackburnian Warbler may perch on the topmost twig of a spruce, showing off the flaming orange of his throat as he sings his thin, wiry song. The female also stays high in the conifers, and the nest is usually built far above the ground. Long-distance migrants, most Blackburnians spend the winter in South America, where they are often common in mountain forest in the Andes.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • immature male (1st fall)
  • immature female (1st fall)
  • immature female (1st fall)
Feeding Behavior

Feeds mostly in treetops, searching along small branches and twigs. Also hovers to take insects from undersides and tips of foliage. Will search dead leaf clumps; occasionally flies out to catch flying insects. In spruce forests, males tend to forage higher than females. In winter in the Andes, forages in mixed flocks with various tropical birds.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3-5. White to greenish white, with blotches of reddish brown concentrated near the larger end. Only females incubate, probably 12-13 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. When the young leave the nest, the parents separate, each caring for part of the brood.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. When the young leave the nest, the parents separate, each caring for part of the brood.

Diet

Mostly insects, especially caterpillars. In summer, feeds on many caterpillars, particularly those of spruce budworm; also eats beetles, ants, flies, and many other insects, also spiders. Especially during winter, will take some berries as well.


Nesting

Details of nesting behavior not well known, partly because nests are high and hard to observe. Male defends nesting territory by singing, sometimes by attacking intruding males. In courtship, male sings, and performs displays with gliding flight and fluttering wings and tail. Nest: Almost always placed in dense vegetation near tips of branches of conifers, and usually high, sometimes up to 80' above ground. Nest (probably built by female) is cup-shaped and made of twigs, bark, and fibers; lined with lichens, moss, grass, hair, and conifer needles.

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

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

Migration

From wintering areas (mostly in Andes of South America), many apparently move north through Central America, then fly north across Gulf of Mexico. Fall migration may be spread out over a broader front.

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Migration

From wintering areas (mostly in Andes of South America), many apparently move north through Central America, then fly north across Gulf of Mexico. Fall migration may be spread out over a broader front.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Very thin and wiry, increasing in speed and rising to the limit of hearing, sleet-sleet-sleet-sleet-sleetee-sleeeee. Also tiddly-tiddly-tiddly-tiddly at same speed and pitch.
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

Blackburnian 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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