At a Glance
The Blackpoll is among the most numerous warblers in far northern forests in summer, and perhaps the most impressive migrant of all our small birds. Every fall, most Blackpoll Warblers make an over-water migration from our northeastern coast to northern South America; some may pause in Bermuda or the Antilles, but others apparently fly nonstop for more than 72 hours. In spring they are more leisurely, traveling via the West Indies and Florida, pausing to sing in our shade trees on their way north.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
Spring migration moves north mostly through Florida, spreading west from there. In fall, many fly nonstop from eastern Canada or northeastern United States to northern South America. Every fall, many (to 100 or more) lost strays appear along Pacific Coast.
5 1/2" (14 cm). Spring male has black cap, white cheeks, striped sides. See Black-throated Gray Warbler, chickadees. Spring female duller; note yellow legs. Fall birds olive above with streaks on back, dull yellow below, with blurry streaks on chest, sharp white wing-bars. Compare to Bay-breasted Warbler and Pine Warbler.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Green, Pink, White, Yellow
Songs and Calls
Rapid series of high lisping notes all on 1 pitch, increasing and then decreasing in volume; seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-seet.
Conifers; broadleaf trees in migration. Breeds in low northern spruce forest, and in alder thickets north of the Arctic Circle and north of treeline. In migration, moves through forests, parks and gardens. In winter in the tropics, found in wooded areas, often in canopy of trees, up to 7,800' elevation.
Sign up for Audubon's newsletter to learn more about birds like the Blackpoll Warbler
4-5, sometimes 3. Off-white, with brown and lavender spots. Incubation probably about 12 days, by female. Male feeds female on nest during incubation. Young: Fed by both parents. Leave nest 11-12 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.
Fed by both parents. Leave nest 11-12 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.
Forages in a deliberate manner, creeping along on branches in the tops of taller trees, gleaning insects from bark, leaves, and twigs. Also flies out to catch flying insects. In migration, may forage frequently with other warblers.
Mostly insects and berries. During the breeding season eats aphids, scale insects, caterpillars, beetles, gnats, mosquitoes, cankerworms, sawflies, wasps, ants, termites, and other insects. Also eats spiders and their eggs, pokeberries, and a few seeds. In migration, noted feeding on spiders, aphids, and scale insects found on citrus and native plants in Florida.
A few males have more than one mate per nesting season. Females return to nest site of previous year and mate with male holding that territory, whether or not he is already mated. Courtship and nest building are deliberate and protracted, and begin later in the season than in most warblers. Nest: Placed next to trunk, on horizontal branch, usually 2-12' above the ground, rarely more than 30' up. Site is located in the understory of young spruce or fir saplings, sometimes in alder thickets. Bulky open cup (built by female) is made of twigs, bark, sprays of spruce, grass stems, weeds, moss, and lichens; lined with feathers, hair, rootlets.
Abundant, but may be decreasing in southern parts of breeding distribution. Vulnerable to loss of habitat, especially on winter range.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Blackpoll Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Blackpoll Warbler
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.