Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Blue-winged Warbler

Vermivora cyanoptera

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.
Conservation status Despite being parasitized often by cowbirds, seems to be holding up well in numbers. May be gradually outcompeting and replacing the Golden-winged Warbler.
Family Wood Warblers
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.
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.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male (breeding)
  • adult female, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • immature male (1st spring)
  • immature female (1st fall)
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.


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.

Diet

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


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.

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

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

Migration

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

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

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

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Insect-like buzzy song, which sounds like a tired sigh, seee-bzzz, the bzzz pitched lower.
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

Blue-winged 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
Zoom InOut

Explore Similar Birds