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.
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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.

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

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

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

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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.