Bird GuideWood WarblersBlue-winged Warbler

At a Glance

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.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Low Concern
Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, Freshwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Texas
Direct Flight, Flitter, Rapid Wingbeats

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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


4 1/2" (11 cm). Bright yellow head and underparts, with sharp black line through eye. Blue-gray wings with two white wing-bars. Tail short, with white spots in outer feathers. Female duller than male.
About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Blue, Gray, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Insect-like buzzy song, which sounds like a tired sigh, seee-bzzz, the bzzz pitched lower.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Hi


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.



5, sometimes 4-7. White, with fine brown spots on larger end. Female incubates, 10-11 days.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest 8-11 days after hatching.

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.


Insects and spiders. Details of diet not well known; probably feeds mostly on small insects, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, also spiders.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

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.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Blue-winged Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Blue-winged 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.

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