Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Blackpoll Warbler

Setophaga striata

The Blackpoll is among the most numerous warblers in far northern forests in summer, and perhaps the most impressive migrant of all our small birds. Every fall, most Blackpoll Warblers make an over-water migration from our northeastern coast to northern South America; some may pause in Bermuda or the Antilles, but others apparently fly nonstop for more than 72 hours. In spring they are more leisurely, traveling via the West Indies and Florida, pausing to sing in our shade trees on their way north.
Conservation status Abundant, but may be decreasing in southern parts of breeding distribution. Vulnerable to loss of habitat, especially on winter range.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Conifers; broadleaf trees in migration. Breeds in low northern spruce forest, and in alder thickets north of the Arctic Circle and north of treeline. In migration, moves through forests, parks and gardens. In winter in the tropics, found in wooded areas, often in canopy of trees, up to 7,800' elevation.
The Blackpoll is among the most numerous warblers in far northern forests in summer, and perhaps the most impressive migrant of all our small birds. Every fall, most Blackpoll Warblers make an over-water migration from our northeastern coast to northern South America; some may pause in Bermuda or the Antilles, but others apparently fly nonstop for more than 72 hours. In spring they are more leisurely, traveling via the West Indies and Florida, pausing to sing in our shade trees on their way north.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • immature female (1st spring)
  • adult male, nonbreeding
  • adult female, nonbreeding
Feeding Behavior

Forages in a deliberate manner, creeping along on branches in the tops of taller trees, gleaning insects from bark, leaves, and twigs. Also flies out to catch flying insects. In migration, may forage frequently with other warblers.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3. Off-white, with brown and lavender spots. Incubation probably about 12 days, by female. Male feeds female on nest during incubation. Young: Fed by both parents. Leave nest 11-12 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.


Young

Fed by both parents. Leave nest 11-12 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.

Diet

Mostly insects and berries. During the breeding season eats aphids, scale insects, caterpillars, beetles, gnats, mosquitoes, cankerworms, sawflies, wasps, ants, termites, and other insects. Also eats spiders and their eggs, pokeberries, and a few seeds. In migration, noted feeding on spiders, aphids, and scale insects found on citrus and native plants in Florida.


Nesting

A few males have more than one mate per nesting season. Females return to nest site of previous year and mate with male holding that territory, whether or not he is already mated. Courtship and nest building are deliberate and protracted, and begin later in the season than in most warblers. Nest: Placed next to trunk, on horizontal branch, usually 2-12' above the ground, rarely more than 30' up. Site is located in the understory of young spruce or fir saplings, sometimes in alder thickets. Bulky open cup (built by female) is made of twigs, bark, sprays of spruce, grass stems, weeds, moss, and lichens; lined with feathers, hair, rootlets.

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

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

Migration

Spring migration moves north mostly through Florida, spreading west from there. In fall, many fly nonstop from eastern Canada or northeastern United States to northern South America. Every fall, many (to 100 or more) lost strays appear along Pacific Coast.

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Migration

Spring migration moves north mostly through Florida, spreading west from there. In fall, many fly nonstop from eastern Canada or northeastern United States to northern South America. Every fall, many (to 100 or more) lost strays appear along Pacific Coast.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Rapid series of high lisping notes all on 1 pitch, increasing and then decreasing in volume; seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet.
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

Blackpoll 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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