Photo: Judy Lyle Tallahassee/Great Backyard Bird Count Participant

Pine Warbler

Setophaga pinus

This well-named bird is not often seen away from pine trees, especially during the breeding season. More sluggish than most of their relatives, Pine Warblers forage in a rather leisurely way at all levels in the pinewoods, from the ground to the treetops. This species is only a short-distance migrant, and almost the entire population spends the winter within the southern United States. Unlike most warblers, it regularly comes to bird feeders for suet or for other soft foods.
Conservation status Surveys suggest that numbers are stable or perhaps even increasing slightly.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Chiefly open pine woods, pine barrens. Usually breeds in open pine woods, especially southern longleaf pine forest, sandy barrens of pitch pine with scrub oak undergrowth, jack-pine barrens, and similar habitats. Also sometimes in cedar or cypress. In winter, occurs in a wider variety of habitats including heavily wooded bottomlands, orchards, thickets, woodland edges.
This well-named bird is not often seen away from pine trees, especially during the breeding season. More sluggish than most of their relatives, Pine Warblers forage in a rather leisurely way at all levels in the pinewoods, from the ground to the treetops. This species is only a short-distance migrant, and almost the entire population spends the winter within the southern United States. Unlike most warblers, it regularly comes to bird feeders for suet or for other soft foods.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • juvenile male
  • juvenile female
  • adult male
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Does much climbing on tree trunks and will walk on ground to forage for dormant insects or seeds. Feeds deliberately, gleaning insects from foliage, sometimes hanging from needle clusters like a titmouse. Probes in pine cones for insects. In winter in the south, may forage in flocks with Eastern Bluebirds.


Eggs

3-5, usually 4. Off-white, with brown specks toward the large end. Incubation is by both parents, probably about 10 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave the nest at 10 days of age. Pairs may raise 2-3 broods annually.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave the nest at 10 days of age. Pairs may raise 2-3 broods annually.

Diet

Insects, seeds, berries. Largely feeds on insects and spiders; diet includes grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, beetles, ants, bugs, others. When few insects available, often eats seeds of pine, grass, and weeds, also some berries. Will visit bird feeders for suet and other items.


Nesting

Males begin singing on breeding territories in early February in the southern part of their range, in late March or early April in the north. Nest sites located toward the ends of limbs of pines or occasionally other trees, usually 30-50' above the ground, can be 8-135' up. Concealed from below by foliage. Nest (built by female) is deep, open cup of weed stalks, grass stems, strips of bark, pine needles, twigs, spiderweb; lined with feathers.

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

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

Migration

Tends to migrate early in spring and late in fall, and many southern birds may be nonmigratory. Those living on islands in the Caribbean apparently are also permanent residents.

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Migration

Tends to migrate early in spring and late in fall, and many southern birds may be nonmigratory. Those living on islands in the Caribbean apparently are also permanent residents.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Musical and somewhat melancholy, a soft, sweet version of the trill of the Chipping Sparrow.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.