|Conservation status||Current numbers probably stable. Because it inhabits shrubby second growth in both summer and winter, not as vulnerable as some warblers to loss of habitat.|
|Habitat||Clearings, thickets, slashings, undergrowth. Breeds in brushy northern habitats, including dense shrubbery in old deciduous woods clearings, brushy cut-over lands, lowland thickets of raspberry and blackberry tangles, or bog and marsh edges; often in temporary habitats, growing up after fires or clearcuts. In winter in the tropics, lives in low, dense thickets and overgrown fields in lowlands and foothills.|
During the breeding season, forages primarily in shrubs within a few feet of the ground; hops while feeding on ground. Sometimes makes short flights to catch flying insects. Generally feeds alone rather than joining flocks.
3-4, sometimes 5. Creamy white with brown spots or blotches. Incubated by female only, about 12 days. Male feeds female on nest during incubation. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after 7-9 days. Care of fledglings may continue for another 4 weeks or more.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after 7-9 days. Care of fledglings may continue for another 4 weeks or more.
Probably mostly insects. Details of the diet are poorly known, but has been seen foraging for caterpillars, beetles, and other insects; also eats spiders. In winter in the tropics, sometimes feeds on the protein bodies from the leaf-bases of young cecropia trees.
Details of the breeding behavior are not well known. Male sings to defend nesting territory; during territorial boundary encounters with rival males, he may bob violently, flip wings outward, and fan his tail. Nest: Usually placed on ground next to shrub at base of weeds in raspberry or blackberry briars, or among fern, goldenrod, or grass tussocks. Also sometimes in bush within a couple of feet of the ground. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is an open, bulky cup made of leaves, with a core of weeds and coarse grasses, lined with fine grass and hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
In spring, apparently moves north overland through Mexico and Texas, rather than crossing the Gulf of Mexico like many other migrants; evidently retraces same route in fall. Migrates relatively late in spring and early in fall.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLoud, ringing, musical song, teedle-teedle, turtle-turtle, the last pair of notes lower.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Mourning Warbler
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Mourning 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.