Photo: Richard Crossley/Vireo

Palm Warbler

Setophaga palmarum

A bird of thickets and open areas, usually seen low or on the ground. Birds from the easternmost part of the range ("Yellow Palm Warblers") are rather colorful, but most others are quite drab; however, they can be recognized by the constant bobbing of their tails. Many Palm Warblers spend the winter in the southeastern United States, especially in Florida, where they may be seen near palm groves but not up in the palms themselves.
Conservation status Numbers apparently stable. Faces no major threats to habitat on either breeding or wintering grounds; often winters in open or disturbed areas.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Wooded borders of muskeg (summer). In migration, low trees, bushes, ground. Breeds in sphagnum bogs with scattered cedar, tamarack, and spruce trees. The western race also breeds in dry pine barrens of boreal forests with ground cover of blueberry, bearberry, and sweet fern. In migration, frequents old hedgerows, edges of streams and ponds, overgrown fields, and open pastures.
A bird of thickets and open areas, usually seen low or on the ground. Birds from the easternmost part of the range ("Yellow Palm Warblers") are rather colorful, but most others are quite drab; however, they can be recognized by the constant bobbing of their tails. Many Palm Warblers spend the winter in the southeastern United States, especially in Florida, where they may be seen near palm groves but not up in the palms themselves.
Photo Gallery
  • adult, breeding, Yellow (Eastern)
  • adult, molting to breeding plumage, Western
  • adult, breeding, Western
  • adult, nonbreeding, Western
  • immature, Yellow (Eastern)
  • adult, nonbreeding, Yellow (Eastern)
Feeding Behavior

In winter, does much foraging by walking and hopping on the ground. During the breeding season, gleans insects from foliage while perching or while hovering momentarily in black spruce, tamarack, and cedars. Also flies out to catch flying insects in mid-air. In fall, may join flocks with other warblers, chickadees, juncos, and sparrows.


Eggs

Usually 4-5. Creamy white with brown marks. Incubated possibly by both parents, 12 days. Rarely a host to cowbird eggs; defends against parasitism by covering cowbird eggs over, building a new layer at the bottom of the nest. Young: Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest at about 12 days and are able to fly short distances within 1-2 days after fledging. Probably 2 broods per year.


Young

Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest at about 12 days and are able to fly short distances within 1-2 days after fledging. Probably 2 broods per year.

Diet

Insects and berries. Feeds mostly on small beetles, mosquitoes, flies, caterpillars, aphids, grasshoppers, ants, bees, and spiders. Eats also a considerable amount of vegetable matter, including raspberries, bayberries, and seeds.


Nesting

Some males have more than one mate. An early nester; birds arrive on breeding grounds in early April and begin nests by early May. Nest: Placed on or near the ground in a stunted spruce tree, close to the trunk. Open cup nest is frequently concealed under a clump of grass, and on top of a hummock of sphagnum moss. Constructed by the female of fine, dry grass stems and bark shreds; lined with feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Compared to most warblers, migrates early in spring and late in fall. The duller-plumaged "Western" Palm Warbler is more numerous along the Atlantic Coast in fall than in spring. Very small numbers winter regularly on the Pacific Coast.

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Migration

Compared to most warblers, migrates early in spring and late in fall. The duller-plumaged "Western" Palm Warbler is more numerous along the Atlantic Coast in fall than in spring. Very small numbers winter regularly on the Pacific Coast.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Weak dry trill, like that of Chipping Sparrow but slower.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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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

Palm 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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