Photo: Judy Lyle Tallahassee/Great Backyard Bird Count

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.

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

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

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.

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

Pine 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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