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Title: Life Histories of North American Wood Warblers Part One and Part Two
Author: Bent, Arthur
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life Histories of North American Wood Warblers Part One and Part Two" ***

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    [Transcriber's Note: Emphasis Notation: _Italic_ and =Bold=;
       [M] and [F] represent male and female symbols respectively.
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(23049-X) $2.25

BIRD STUDY, Andrew J. Berger. (22699-9) $7.95

BIRD SONG AND BIRD BEHAVIOR, Donald J. Borror. (22779-0) Record and
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COMMON BIRD SONGS, Donald J. Borror. (21829-5) Record and manual

SONGS OF EASTERN BIRDS, Donald J. Borror. (22378-7) Record and
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SONGS OF WESTERN BIRDS, Donald J. Borror. (22765-0) Record and
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1001 QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT BIRDS, Allan Cruickshank and Helen
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BIRD MIGRATION, Donald R. Griffin. (20529-0) $4.50

A GUIDE TO BIRD WATCHING, Joseph J. Hickey. (21596-2) $4.95

_Life Histories of North American Wood Warblers_


_Arthur Cleveland Bent_

_in two parts

Part 1_

_Dover Publications, Inc.
New York_

Published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Limited,
10 Orange Street, London W. C. 2.

This Dover edition, first published in 1963, is an unabridged and
unaltered republication of the work first published in 1953 by the
United States Government Printing Office, as Smithsonian Institution
United States National Museum _Bulletin 203_.

_Standard Book Number: 486-21153-3_

Manufactured in the United States of America

Dover Publications, Inc.

180 Varick Street

New York 14, N. Y.


The scientific publications of the National Museum include two series,
known, respectively, as _Proceedings_ and _Bulletins_.

The _Proceedings_ series, begun in 1878, is intended primarily as a
medium for the publication of original papers, based on the collections
of the National Museum, that set forth newly acquired facts in biology,
anthropology, and geology, with descriptions of new forms and revisions
of limited groups. Copies of each paper, in pamphlet form, are
distributed as published to libraries and scientific organizations and
to specialists and others interested in the different subjects. The
dates at which these separate papers are published are recorded in the
table of contents of each of the volumes.

The series of _Bulletins_, the first of which was issued in 1875,
contains separate publications comprising monographs of large zoological
groups and other general systematic treatises (occasionally in several
volumes), faunal works, reports of expeditions, catalogs of type
specimens, special collections, and other material of similar nature.
The majority of the volumes are octavo in size, but a quarto size has
been adopted in a few instances in which the larger page was regarded as
indispensable. In the _Bulletin_ series appear volumes under the heading
_Contributions from the United States National Herbarium_, in octavo
form, published by the National Museum since 1902, which contain papers
relating to the botanical collections of the Museum.

The present work forms No. 203 of the _Bulletin_ series.


_Director, United States National Museum_.



   Introduction                                                        ix

   Order PASSERIFORMES                                                  1

   Family Parulidae: Wood warblers                                      1

     _Mniotilta varia_: Black-and-white warbler                         5
       Habits                                                           5
       Distribution                                                    14

     _Protonotaria citrea_: Prothonotary warbler                       17
       Habits                                                          17
       Distribution                                                    28

     _Limnothlypis swainsonii_: Swainson's warbler                     30
       Habits                                                          30
       Distribution                                                    37

     _Helmitheros vermivoros_: Worm-eating warbler                     38
       Habits                                                          38
       Distribution                                                    45

     _Vermivora chrysoptera_: Golden-winged warbler                    47
       Habits                                                          47
       Distribution                                                    56

     _Vermivora pinus_: Blue-winged warbler                            58
       Habits                                                          58
       Distribution                                                    65

     _Vermivora bachmanii_: Bachman's warbler                          67
       Habits                                                          67
       Distribution                                                    73

     _Vermivora peregrina_: Tennessee warbler                          75
       Habits                                                          75
       Distribution                                                    86

     _Vermivora celata celata_: Eastern orange-crowned warbler         89
       Habits                                                          89
       Distribution                                                    94

     _Vermivora celata orestera_: Rocky Mountain orange-crowned
         warbler                                                       98
       Habits                                                          98

     _Vermivora celata lutescens_: Lutescent orange-crowned warbler    99
       Habits                                                          99

     _Vermivora celata sordida_: Dusky orange-crowned warbler         103
       Habits                                                         103

     _Vermivora ruficapilla ruficapilla_: Eastern Nashville warbler   105
       Habits                                                         105
       Distribution                                                   113

     _Vermivora ruficapilla ridgwayi_: Western Nashville warbler      116
       Habits                                                         116

     _Vermivora virginiae_: Virginia's warbler                        119
       Habits                                                         119
       Distribution                                                   124

     _Vermivora crissalis_: Colima warbler                            126
       Habits                                                         126
       Distribution                                                   129

     _Vermivora luciae_: Lucy's warbler                               129
       Habits                                                         129
       Distribution                                                   134

     _Parula americana pusilla_: Northern parula warbler              135
       Habits                                                         135
       Distribution                                                   145

     _Parula americana americana_: Southern parula warbler            147
       Habits                                                         147

     _Parula pitiayumi nigrilora_: Sennett's olive-backed warbler     149
       Habits                                                         149
       Distribution                                                   152

     _Parula graysoni_: Socorro warbler                               152
       Habits                                                         152
       Distribution                                                   153

     _Peucedramus taeniatus arizonae_: Northern olive warbler         153
       Habits                                                         153
       Distribution                                                   160

     _Dendroica petechia aestiva_: Eastern yellow warbler             160
       Habits                                                         160
       Distribution                                                   178

     _Dendroica petechia amnicola_: Newfoundland yellow warbler       182
       Habits                                                         182

     _Dendroica petechia rubiginosa_: Alaska yellow warbler           184
       Habits                                                         184

     _Dendroica petechia morcomi_: Rocky Mountain yellow warbler      185
       Habits                                                         185

     _Dendroica petechia brewsteri_: California yellow warbler        186
       Habits                                                         186

     _Dendroica petechia sonorana_: Sonora yellow warbler             189
       Habits                                                         189

     _Dendroica petechia gundlachi_: Cuban yellow warbler             190
       Habits                                                         190

     _Dendroica petechia castaneiceps_: Mangrove yellow warbler       191
       Habits                                                         191

     _Dendroica magnolia_: Magnolia warbler                           195
       Habits                                                         195
       Distribution                                                   209

     _Dendroica tigrina_: Cape May warbler                            212
       Habits                                                         212
       Distribution                                                   222

     _Dendroica caerulescens caerulescens_: Northern black-throated
         blue warbler                                                 224
       Habits                                                         224
       Distribution                                                   233

     _Dendroica caerulescens cairnsi_: Cairns' warbler                237
       Habits                                                         237

     _Dendroica coronata coronata_: Eastern myrtle warbler            239
       Habits                                                         239
       Distribution 254

     _Dendroica coronata hooveri_: Alaska myrtle warbler              258
       Habits                                                         258

     _Dendroica auduboni auduboni_: Pacific Audubon's warbler         260
       Habits                                                         260
       Distribution                                                   271

     _Dendroica auduboni nigrifrons_: Black-fronted Audubon's warbler 273
       Habits 273

     _Dendroica nigrescens_: Black-throated gray warbler              275
       Habits                                                         275
       Distribution                                                   281

     _Dendroica towndsendi_: Townsend's warbler                       282
       Habits                                                         282
       Distribution                                                   290

     _Dendroica virens virens_: Northern black-throated green warbler 291
       Habits                                                         291
       Distribution                                                   304

     _Dendroica virens waynei_: Wayne's black-throated green warbler  308
       Habits                                                         308

     _Dendroica chrysoparia_: Golden-cheeked warbler                  316
       Habits                                                         316
       Distribution                                                   321

     _Dendroica occidentalis_: Hermit warbler                         321
       Habits                                                         321
       Distribution                                                   328

     _Dendroica cerulea_: Cerulean warbler                            329
       Habits                                                         329
       Distribution                                                   335

     _Dendroica fusca_: Blackburnian warbler                          337
       Habits                                                         337
       Distribution                                                   347

     _Dendroica dominica dominica_: Eastern yellow-throated warbler   349
       Habits                                                         349
       Distribution                                                   358

     _Dendroica dominica albilora_: Sycamore yellow-throated warbler  359
       Habits                                                         359

     _Dendroica graciae graciae_: Northern Grace's warbler            363
       Habits                                                         363
       Distribution                                                   367


This is the nineteenth in a series of bulletins of the United States
National Museum on the life histories of North American birds. Previous
numbers have been issued as follows:

  107. Life Histories of North American Diving Birds, August 1, 1919.

  113. Life Histories of North American Gulls and Terns, August 27,

  121. Life Histories of North American Petrels and Pelicans and Their
       Allies, October 19, 1922.

  126. Life Histories of North American Wild Fowl (part), May 25, 1923.

  130. Life Histories of North American Wild Fowl (part), June 27, 1925.

  135. Life Histories of North American Marsh Birds, March 11, 1927.

  142. Life Histories of North American Shore Birds (pt. 1), December
       31, 1927.

  146. Life Histories of North American Shore Birds (pt. 2), March 24,

  162. Life Histories of North American Gallinaceous Birds, May 25,

  167. Life Histories of North American Birds of Prey (pt. 1), May 3,

  170. Life Histories of North American Birds of Prey (pt. 2), August 8,

  174. Life Histories of North American Woodpeckers, May 23, 1939.

  176. Life Histories of North American Cuckoos, Goatsuckers,
       Hummingbirds, and Their Allies, July 20, 1940.

  179. Life Histories of North American Flycatchers, Larks, Swallows,
       and Their Allies, May 8, 1942.

  191. Life Histories of North American Jays, Crows, and Titmice,
       January 27, 1947.

  195. Life Histories of North American Nuthatches, Wrens, Thrashers,
       and Their Allies, July 7, 1948.

  196. Life Histories of North American Thrushes, Kinglets, and Their
       Allies, June 28, 1949.

  197. Life Histories of North American Wagtails, Shrikes, Vireos, and
       Their Allies, June 21, 1950.

The paragraphs on distribution for the Colima and Kirtland's warblers
were supplied by Dr. Josselyn Van Tyne with his contributions on these

All other data on distribution and migration were contributed by the
Fish and Wildlife Service under the supervision of Frederick C. Lincoln.

The same general plan has been followed as explained in previous
bulletins, and the same sources of information have been used. It does
not seem necessary to explain the plan again here. The nomenclature of
the Check-List of North American Birds (1931), with its supplements, of
the American Ornithologists' Union, has been followed. Forms not
recognized in this list have not been included.

Many who have contributed material for previous Bulletins have continued
to cooperate. Receipts of material from several hundred contributors has
been acknowledged in previous Bulletins. In addition to these, our
thanks are due to the following new contributors: G. A. Ammann, O. L.
Austin, Jr., F. S. Barkalow, Jr., Ralph Beebe, H. E. Bennett, A. J.
Berger, Virgilio Biaggi, Jr., C. H. Blake, Don Bleitz, B. J. Blincoe, L.
C. Brecher, Jeanne Broley, Maurice Broun, J. H. Buckalew, I. W. Burr, N.
K. Carpenter, May T. Cooke, H. L. Crockett, Grace Crowe, Ruby Curry, J.
V. Dennis, E. von S. Dingle, M. S. Dunlap, J. J. Elliott, A. H. Fast,
Edith K. Frey, J. E. Galley, J. H. Gerard, Lydia Getell, H. B.
Goldstein, Alan Gordon, L. I. Grinnell, Horace Groskin, F. G. Gross, G.
W. Gullion, E. M. Hall, R. H. Hansman, Katharine C. Harding, H. H.
Harrison, J. W. Hopkins, N. L. Huff, Verna R. Johnston, Malcolm Jollie,
R. S. Judd, M. B. Land, Louise de K. Lawrence, R. E. Lawrence, G. H.
Lowery, J. M. Markle, C. R. Mason, D. L. McKinley, R. J. Middleton, Lyle
Miller, A. H. Morgan, R. H. Myers, W. H. Nicholson, F. H. Orcutt, H. L.
Orians, R. A. O'Reilly, A. A. Outram, G. H. Parks, K. C. Parkes, M. M.
Peet, J. L. Peters, F. A. Pitelka, Mariana Roach, James Rooney, Jr., O.
M. Root, G. B. Saunders, James Sawders, Mary C. Shaub, Dorothy E.
Snyder, Doris Heustis Speirs, E. A. Stoner, P. B. Street, H. R. Sweet,
E. W. Teale, A. B. Williams, G. G. Williams, R. B. Williams, Mrs. T. E.
Winford, and A. M. Woodbury.

As the demand for these Bulletins is much greater than the supply, the
names of those who have not contributed to the work during recent years
will be dropped from the author's mailing list.

Dr. Winsor M. Tyler has again read and indexed for this volume a large
part of the current literature on North American birds and has
contributed four complete life histories. Dr. Alfred O. Gross has
written stories on the yellow-throats (_Geothlypis trichas_) and has
contributed three other complete life histories. Edward von S. Dingle,
Alexander Sprunt, Jr., and Dr. Josselyn Van Tyne have contributed two
complete life histories each.


William George F. Harris has increased his valuable contribution to the
work by producing the entire paragraphs on eggs, including descriptions
of the eggs in their exact colors, assembling and averaging the
measurements, and collecting and arranging the egg dates, as they appear
under Distribution; the preparation of this last item alone required the
handling of over 5,600 records.

Clarence F. Smith has furnished references to food habits of all the
species of wood warblers. Aretas A. Saunders has contributed full and
accurate descriptions of the songs and call notes of all the species
with which he is familiar, based on his extensive musical records. Dr.
Alexander F. Skutch has sent us full accounts of all the North American
wood warblers that migrate through or spend the winter in Central
America, with dates of arrival and departure. James Lee Peters has
furnished descriptions of molts and plumages of several species and has
copied several original descriptions of subspecies from publications
that were not available to the author.

Eggs were measured for this volume by American Museum of Natural History
(C. K. Nichols), California Academy of Sciences (R. T. Orr), Colorado
Museum of Natural History (F. G. Brandenburg), C. E. Doe, W. E. Griffee,
W. C. Hanna, E. N. Harrison, H. L. Heaton, A. D. Henderson, Museum of
Comparative Zoology (W. G. F. Harris), and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
(M. Jollie).

The manuscript for this Bulletin was written in 1945; only important
information could be added. If the reader fails to find in these pages
anything that he knows about the birds, he can only blame himself for
failing to send the information to--





_Taunton, Mass_.



The family of wood warblers, Parulidae, is the second largest family of
North American birds, surpassed only in number of species by the family
Fringillidae. The wood warblers occur only in the Western Hemisphere;
they are distinct from the Old World warblers, Sylviidae, although the
two families play a similar rôle in nature's economy.

The wood warblers are largely nocturnal migrants, whose long journeys in
the dark of night over sea and lake and along the coast expose them to
many perils, one being the lighthouses they strike with frequently fatal
results. Their notes are seldom heard from the night sky during their
spring migration, but on many a calm, quiet night in August and
September, as they fly overhead, their sharp, sibilant, staccato notes
punctuate the rhythmic beat of the tree-crickets singing in the
shrubbery and stand out clearly among the soft, whistled calls of the
migrating thrushes.

The length of migration varies greatly; the pine warbler withdraws in
winter only a short distance from the southern limit of its breeding
range, whereas the most northerly breeding black-polls migrate from
Alaska to the Tropics. In spring many species migrate at nearly the same
time, apparently advancing northward in intermittent waves of great
numbers during favorable nights. Flocks made up of sometimes a dozen
species together flash about in their bright plumage during the week or
two at the height of the migration and furnish days of great excitement
to ornithologists. Their return in late summer and autumn is more
leisurely and regular; in loose flocks they drift slowly by for several
weeks, their southward passage evident even in daytime. The flocking
begins early, soon after nesting is over, and to the north is apparent
early in July, if closely watched for, even before the leaves begin to
wither. The mixed fall flocks, with adults in winter plumage and young
birds in duller colors, present many fascinating problems in
identification as the birds move quietly along.

[AUTHOR'S NOTES: When I asked Dr. Tyler to contribute these remarks we
discussed Professor Cooke's (1904) theory of trans-Gulf migration, which
has been generally accepted until recently, when it was challenged by
George C. Williams (1945). This paper started a discussion in which
George H. Lowery, Jr. (1945), has taken a prominent part, and of which
we have not yet heard the last. Routes of migration from South America
to the United States are evidently well established through the West
Indies and the Bahamas to the southeastern States; across the Caribbean
to Jamaica, Cuba, and Florida; through Central America and directly
across the Gulf from Yucután to the Gulf States; through eastern Mexico
and Texas; and through western Mexico to the southwestern States.
Professor Cooke was probably correct in assuming that the majority of
wood warblers breeding in eastern North America migrate directly across
the Caribbean or the Gulf. Some species may confine themselves to only
one of the routes named, but we need more data to say just which species
uses what route.]

The literature contains descriptions of several warblers not recognized
as established species by the A. O. U. Check-List (1931). Some,
described and illustrated by older writers such as Wilson and Audubon,
cannot be identified; others are presumably hybrids; and one, _Sylvia
autumnalis_ Wilson, the autumn warbler, is clearly the black-poll in
fall plumage. The first category includes _Dendroica carbonata_
(Audubon), the carbonated warbler, of which the Check-List says "the
published plates may have been based to some extent on memory"; _D.
montana_ (Wilson), the blue mountain warbler, which is "known only from
the plates of Audubon and Wilson"; and _Wilsonia_ (?) _microcephala_
(Ridgway), the small-headed flycatcher, of which it says: "Known only
from the works of Wilson and Audubon whose specimens came from New
Jersey and Kentucky respectively. There is some question whether they
represent the same species."

In the second category is _Vermivora cincinnatiensis_ (Langdon), the
Cincinnati warbler, described in 1880. "The unique type is regarded as a
hybrid between _Vermivora pinus_ (Linnaeus) and _Oporornis formosa_
(Wilson)." Recently, in a letter dated August 3, 1948, Dr. George M.
Sutton reports to Mr. Bent the discovery of a second Cincinnati warbler,
taken in Michigan on May 28, 1948. He says: "Its bill and feet are large
for _Vermivora_ and its under tail coverts proportionately too long for
that genus. It has only a faint suggestion of wing-barring and the
merest shadow of a pattern on the outer rectrices. One of its most
interesting and beautiful characters is the gray tipping of the feathers
at the rear of the crown, as in _O. formosus_. The effect is very
unusual, for the gray-tipped feathers are yellow. It is, in short,
obviously a cross between _Vermivora_ and _Oporornis_."

The status of _Vermivora leucobronchialis_ and _V. lawrencii_ and the
relationship between them puzzled ornithologists for upward of two
generations. William Brewster (1876) described the former as a new
species, and since that time, as Walter Faxon (1911) writes, "almost
every conceivable hypothesis has been advanced by one writer or another
to fix its true status in our bird-fauna." In addition to being
considered a valid species, it has been regarded as a hybrid (Brewster,
1881), as a dichromatic phase, that is, a leucochroic phase of _V.
pinus_ (Ridgway, 1887), as a mutant (Scott, 1905), and finally as a
phase, "ancestral in character" (atavistic) of the goldenwing (C. W.
Townsend, 1908).

Lawrence's warbler is a very rare bird. The first specimen was described
in 1874 (Herold Herrick, 1874), and since that time the bird was taken
or seen infrequently, chiefly in regions where the breeding ranges of
_V. chrysoptera_ and _V. pinus_ overlap. Consensus of opinion in the
main regarded it as a hybrid between _V. chrysoptera_ and _V. pinus_, as
it combined characters of both the supposed parents. John Treadwell
Nichols (1908) some years ago brought new light to the problem. He says:

In any discussion of the status of Lawrence's and Brewster's Warblers it
is well to bear in mind the facts, including the much greater abundance
of Brewster's, are in accord with Mendel's Law of Heredity, supposing
both forms to be hybrids between _Helminthophila pinus_ and _H.
chrysoptera_. * * * All the first generation hybrids will be Brewster's
Warbler in plumage. In the next generation there will be pure
Golden-winged Warblers, pure Blue-winged Warblers, pure Brewster's
Warblers, and pure Lawrence's Warblers; also mixed birds of the first
three forms, but none of the last form, which, being recessive, comes to
light only when pure. The original hybrids then (which will be all
Brewster's in plumage) must be fertile with one another or with the
parent species for any Lawrence's to occur; and if they are perfectly
fertile Lawrence's must still remain a small minority. After the first
generation the proportion of plumages of birds with mixed parentage
should be: 9 Brewster's, 3 _chrysoptera_, 3 _pinus_, 1 Lawrence's.

This explanation removed the stumbling block, long believed to
be insurmountable, that a black-throated bird, mating with a
yellow-throated bird, could produce progeny having a white throat.
Under Mendel's Law the dominant color (white) of _chrysoptera_ would
appear by the suppression of the recessive black throat.

Fortunately, Walter Faxon (1913) not long afterward found a female
blue-winged warbler mated with a goldenwing and was successful in
following the resulting brood of young birds until they had acquired
their first winter plumage when, fulfilling Mendel's Law, they were all
in "the garb of _Helminthophila leucobronchialis_," thus establishing
beyond a doubt the hybrid nature of the bird. At the end of his paper,
Walter Faxon (1913) relates a bit of interesting ancient history
regarding these three species of _Vermivora_. He says:

In my paper published in 1911, after stating the different hypotheses
proposed in order to explain the relations existing among the
Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Brewster's, and Lawrence's Warblers I added,
half in jest, that the only hypothesis left for a new-comer in the field
was this: that the Golden-winged and the Blue-winged Warblers themselves
were merely two forms of one species. Curiously enough, not long after
this I found that this very opinion had been expressed, and in a most
unexpected quarter: in a letter dated Edinburgh, Sept. 15, 1835, Audubon
wrote to Bachman that he suspected the golden-winged warbler and the
blue-winged warbler were one species! That Audubon at that early date,
ignorant (as he was assumed to be) of the existence of Brewster's and
Lawrence's warblers, and but superficially acquainted with the
golden-wing, should suspect that two birds so diverse as the blue-wing
and the golden-wing were one species seemed incomprehensible, and in the
light of what we now know about these birds, his surmise seemed to
presuppose an almost superhuman faculty of prevision.

As a possible explanation of Audubon's letter I have only this to offer:
in the winter of 1876-77 Dr. Spencer Trotter discovered in the
collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia a specimen
of Brewster's warbler without a label, the third specimen known up to
that time; on the bottom of the stand was written in the autograph of
John Cassin, "J. C., 20 October, 1862," and also a badly blurred legend
"Not from Bell." An appeal to J. G. Bell elicited the response that he
remembered shooting a peculiar warbler in Rockland Co., N. Y., about the
year 1832--a warbler something like a golden-wing, but lacking, although
in high plumage, the black throat of that species; a great many years
afterward, he sold this specimen in Philadelphia but knew nothing of its
ultimate fate. Dr. Trotter justly inferred that the Philadelphia Academy
specimen was in all probability the very bird shot by Bell.

Now as Audubon was intimately associated with Bell, is it not possible
that he had examined this example of Brewster's warbler? In that case,
seeing that this bird's characters were in part those of the blue-wing,
in part those of the golden-wing, he may have inferred the interbreeding
of these two birds, and so (rather unwarrantably, it is true) their
identity. If this be not the explanation of the passage in Audubon's
letter to Bachman I have no other to suggest.

When Audubon came to publish his account of the Golden-winged Warbler in
1839 (Ornithological Biography, 1839, 5, p. 154) he said not a word
about its connection with the Blue-winged Warbler.

Recently Karl W. Haller (1940) described "a new wood warbler from West
Virginia" from two specimens, male and female, which he collected on May
30 and June 1, 1939, respectively, at points 18 miles apart, and
proposed for it the new name _Dendroica potomac_, Sutton's warbler.
These birds resemble the yellow-throated warbler in plumage but lack
streaks on the sides. They also suggest the parula warbler in having a
faint yellowish wash on the back and, in the male, "an almost
imperceptible hint of raw sienna" on the upper breast. The male sang a
song much like the parula's, but doubled by repetition.

Two more Sutton's warblers have been carefully observed in the field:
one at the point where the type was collected on May 21, 1942, by
Maurice Brooks and Bayard H. Christy (1942); the second about 18 miles
to the westward on June 21, 1944, by George H. Breiding and Lawrence E.
Hicks (1945). Another aberrant warbler has been described by Stanley G.
Jewett (1944), who examined four specimens which show a curious
intermingling of the plumage characters of the hermit and Townsend

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Since the above was written, Kenneth C. Parkes (1951)
has published a study of the genetics of the golden-winged--blue-winged
warbler complex, to which the reader is referred.]






The black-and-white warbler is one of the earliest spring warblers to
reach its breeding-ground in the Transition Zone. Most of the other
members of this family arrive in or pass through the region in mid-May
or somewhat later, according to the season, when the oaks are in bloom
and the opening flowers attract swarms of insects.

The black-and-white warbler, however, owing to its peculiar habit of
feeding on the trunks and the large limbs of the trees, does not have to
wait for the bounty supplied by the oaks but finds its special
feeding-ground well stocked with food long before the oaks blossom or
their leaves unfold. It comes with the yellow palm warbler late in
April, when many of the trees are nearly bare, and not long after the
pine warbler.

_Mniotilta_ is a neat little bird, dressed in modest colors, at this
season singing its simple but sprightly song as it scrambles over the
bark--the black-and-white creeper, Alexander Wilson calls it.

Milton B. Trautman (1940), speaking of the spring migration at Buckeye
Lake, Ohio, shows that the male birds are preponderant in the earliest
flights. He says: "The first spring arrivals, chiefly males, were noted
between April 16 and 30, and between May 1 and 5, 2 to 15 birds, mostly
males, could be daily noted. The peak of migration usually lasted from
May 6 to May 18, and then from 3 to 42 individuals, consisting of a few
old males and the remainder females and young males, were daily
observed. On May 18 or shortly thereafter a decided lessening in numbers
occurred, and by May 23 all except an occasional straggler had left."

_Courtship._--Forbush (1929) gives this hint of courtship, which
resembles the activities of most warblers at this season: "When the
females arrive there is much agitation, and often a long-continued
intermittent pursuit, with much song and fluttering of black and white
plumage, and much interference from rival males before the happy pair
are united and begin nesting."

_Nesting._--The black-and-white warbler usually builds its nest on the
ground, tucking it away against a shrub or tree, or even under the
shelter of an overhanging stone or bank. The nest is generally concealed
among an accumulation of dead leaves which, arching over it, hides it
from above. It is made, according to A. C. Bent (MS.), "of dry leaves,
coarse grass, strips of inner bark, pine needles and rootlets, and is
lined with finer grasses and rootlets and horsehair." I have seen a nest
made chiefly of pine needles on a base of dry leaves.

Henry Mousley (1916), writing of Hatley, Quebec, mentions moss as a
component part of the nest, and says of three nests that they were all
"heavily lined with long black and white horse hairs," a peculiarity of
coloration mentioned in one of Mr. Bent's nests. Thomas D. Burleigh
(1927b) speaks of a nest in Pennsylvania "built of dead leaves and
rhododendron berry stems, lined with fine black rootlets and a few white
hairs." H. H. Brimley (1941) describes an exceptional nest. He says:
"There was no particular departure from normal in its construction
except for the fact that it was lined with a mixture of fine rootlets
and very fine copper wire, such as is used in telephone cables.
Fragments of such cable, discarded by repair men, were found nearby
where a telephone line ran through the woods."

Cordelia J. Stanwood (1910c) speaks of a nest "built in a depression
full of leaves, behind a flat rock. * * * The cavity was shaped on a
slant, the upper wall forming a partial roof. * * * It looked not unlike
a small-sized nest of an Oven-bird. On the inside, the length was 2-1/2
inches, width 1-1/2 inches, depth 2 inches. On the outside, length 3-1/2
inches, width 2-1/2 inches, depth 2-1/2 inches. Thickness of wall at the
top of nest, 1 inch; at the bottom, 1/2 inch." Henry Mousley (1916)
gives the average dimensions of three nests as "outside diameter 3-3/4,
inside 1-3/4 inches; outside depth 2-1/4, inside 1-1/2 inches."

F. A. E. Starr (MS.) writes to A. C. Bent from Toronto, Ontario, that
all the nests he has found have been in broken-off stumps in low woods.
"The cavity in the top of the stump," he says, "is filled with old
leaves, and the nest proper is made chiefly of strips of bark with grass
and fiber." Guy H. Briggs (1900) reports a nest "in a decayed hemlock
stump, fifteen inches from the ground." In such cases, of course, while
the nest is well above the ground level, it rests on a firm foundation.

Audubon (1841) says: "In Louisiana, its nest is usually placed in some
small hole in a tree," but he quotes a letter to him from Dr. T. M.
Brewer on the subject, thus: "This bird, which you speak of as breeding
in the hollows of trees, with us always builds its nest on the ground. I
say always, because I never knew it to lay anywhere else. I have by me a
nest brought to me by Mr. Appleton from Batternits, New York, which was
found in the drain of the house in which he resided."

Minot (1877) speaks of two nests found near Boston, Mass., well above
the ground. He says: "The first was in a pine grove, in the cavity of a
tree rent by lightning, and about five feet from the ground, and the
other on the top of a low birch stump, which stood in a grove of white

Gordon Boit Wellman (1905) states: "Toward the last of the incubation
time one of the birds was constantly on the nest. I found the male
sitting usually at about dusk, but I think the female sat on the eggs
over night."

_Eggs._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The black-and-white warbler usually lays 4 or 5
eggs to a set, normally 5, seldom fewer or more. These are ovate to
short ovate and slightly glossy. The ground color is white or creamy
white. Some are finely sprinkled over the entire surface with
"cinnamon-brown," "Mars brown," and "dark purplish drab"; others are
boldly spotted and blotched with "russet" and "Vandyke brown," with
underlying spots of "brownish drab," "light brownish drab," and "light
vinaceous-drab." Speckled eggs are commoner than the more boldly
blotched type. The markings are usually concentrated at the large end,
and on some of the heavily spotted eggs there is a solid wreath of
different shades of russet and drab. The measurements of 50 eggs average
17.2 by 13.3 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=18.8= by 13.7, 17.9 by =14.7=, =15.7= by 12.7, and 16.3 by =12.2=
millimeters (Harris).]

_Young._--Cordelia J. Stanwood (MS.) speaks of the nestlings a few days
from the egg as "very dark gray, much like young juncos and Nashville
warblers." But when they leave the nest they are clearly recognizable as
young black-and-white warblers, although they are slightly tinged with
brownish. By mid-July, here in New England, they assume their first
winter plumage, and, as both sexes of the young birds have whitish
cheeks, they resemble very closely their female parent.

Unlike the young of some of the other warblers which remain near the
ground for many days, the young black-and-white warblers shortly ascend
to the branches of trees where they are fed by the old birds.

I find no definite record of the length of the incubation period, but in
a nest I watched in 1914 it was close to 10 days. Burns (1921) gives the
period of nestling life as 8 to 12 days.

_Plumages._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down
mouse gray, and describes the juvenal plumage as follows: "Above,
wood-brown streaked with dull olive-brown, the upper tail coverts dusky;
median crown and superciliary stripe dingy white. Wings and tail dull
black, edged chiefly with ashy gray, the tertiaries (except the proximal
which is entirely black) broadly edged with white, buff tinged on the
middle one. Two buffy white wing bands at tips of greater and median
wing coverts. The outer two rectrices with terminal white blotches of
variable extent on the inner webs. Below, dull white, washed on the
throat and sides with wood-brown, obscurely streaked on throat, breast,
sides and crissum with dull grayish black."

A postjuvenal molt begins early in July, involving everything but the
flight feathers; this produces in the young male a first winter plumage
which is similar to the juvenal, but whiter and more definitely
streaked. "Above, striped in black and white, the upper tail coverts
black broadly edged with white; median crown and superciliary stripe
pure white. The wing bands white. Below, pure white streaked with bluish
black on sides of breast, flanks and crissum, the black veiled by
overlapping white edgings; the chin, throat, breast and abdomen
unmarked. Postocular stripe black; the white feathers of the sides of
the head tipped with black."

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt in
late winter, which involves a large part of the body plumage, but not
the wings or the tail. "The black streaks of the chin and throat are
acquired, veiled with white, and the loral, subocular and auricular
regions become jet-black. The brown primary coverts distinguish young
birds and the chin is less often solidly black than in adults."

The adult winter plumage is acquired by a complete postnuptial molt,
beginning early in July. It differs from the first winter dress "in
having the chin and throat heavily streaked with irregular chains of
black spots veiled with white edgings, the wings and tail blacker and
the edgings a brighter gray. * * * The female has corresponding plumages
and moults, the first prenuptial moult often very limited or suppressed.
In juvenal dress the wings and tail are usually browner with duller
edgings and the streaking below obscure. In first winter plumage the
streakings are dull and obscure everywhere, a brown wash conspicuous on
the flanks and sides of the throat. The first nuptial plumage is gained
chiefly by wear through which the brown tints are largely lost, the
general color becoming whiter and the streaks more distinct. The adult
winter plumage is rather less brown than the female first winter, the
streaking less obscure and the wings and tail darker. The adult nuptial
plumage, acquired partly by moult, is indistinguishable with certainty
from the first nuptial."]

_Food._--McAtee (1926) summarizes the food of the species thus:

In its excursions over the trunks and larger limbs of trees the Black
and White Creeper is certainly not looking for vegetable food, and only
a trace of such matter has been found in the stomachs examined. The
food is chiefly insects but considerable numbers of spiders and
daddy-long-legs also are eaten. Beetles, caterpillars, and ants are the
larger classes of insect food, but moths, flies, bugs, and a few
hymenoptera also are eaten. Among forest enemies that have been found in
stomachs of this species are round-headed wood borers, leaf beetles,
flea beetles, weevils, bark beetles, leaf hoppers, and jumping plant
lice. The hackberry caterpillar, the hackberry psyllid, an oak leaf
beetle _Xanthonia 10-notata_, and the willow flea beetle, are forms
specifically identified. Observers have reported this warbler to feed
also upon ordinary plant lice, and upon larvae of the gypsy moth.

Forbush (1929) adds the following observation: "The food of this bird
consists mostly of the enemies of trees, such as plant-lice, scale-lice,
caterpillars, both hairy and hairless, among them such destructive
enemies of orchard, shade and forest trees as the canker-worm and the
gipsy, brown-tail, tent and forest tent caterpillars. Wood-boring and
bark-boring insects, click beetles, curculios and many other winged
insects are taken. Sometimes when the quick-moving insects escape its
sharp bill, it pursues them on the wing but most of its attention is
devoted to those on the trees."

H. H. Tuttle (1919), speaking of the male parent feeding the young
birds, says: "The fare which he provided was composed entirely of small
green caterpillars, cut up into half-lengths."

_Behavior._--The black-and-white warbler seems set apart from others of
the group, perhaps because of its marked propensity for clambering over
the trunks of trees and their larger branches. Although, like other
warblers, it seems at home among the smaller twigs, it spends a large
part of its time on upright surfaces over which it moves easily and
quickly, upward, downward, and spirally, with great agility and sureness
of footing, constantly changing direction, and not using the tail for
support. As it scrambles over the bark, it switches from side to side as
if at each hop it placed one foot and then the other in advance, and
even on slim branches it hops in the same way, the tail alternately
appearing first on one side of the branch and then on the other; it
reminds us of a little schoolgirl swishing her skirt from side to side
as she walks down the street. The bird is alert and watchful, and if it
starts an insect from the bark, or sees one flying near, it may pursue
it and catch it in the air.

H. H. Tuttle (1919) describes an extreme example of behavior simulating
a wounded bird. He says: "She struck the leaves with a slight thud and
turned over on her side, while the toes of one up-stretched leg
clutched at the air and her tail spread slowly into a pointed fan. * * *
Deceived for a moment then, I turned a step in her direction. She lay
quite still except for a quivering wing. I reached out toward her with a
small stick and touched her side; she screamed pitifully; I stretched
out my hand to pick her up, but with a last effort she righted herself,
and by kicking desperately with one leg, succeeded in pushing forward a
few inches."

We associate this warbler with dry, rocky hillsides where the ground is
strewn with dead leaves, but the bird may breed also in the dry portions
of shady, wooded swamps.

_Voice._--The black-and-white is one of the high-voiced singers. Its
song is made up of a series of squeaky couplets given with a
back-and-forth rhythm, a seesawing effect, like the ovenbird's song
played on a fine, delicate instrument. It may be suggested by
pronouncing the syllables _we see_ rapidly four or five times in a
whispered voice. In the distance the song has a sibilant quality; when
heard near at hand a high, clear whistle may be detected in the notes.
The final note in the song is the accented _see_.

Albert R. Brand (1938), in his mechanically recorded songs of warblers,
placed the black-and-white's song as the fourth highest in pitch in his
last of 16 species, the black-poll, blue-winged, and the Blackburnian
being higher. He gives the approximate mean (vibrations per second) of
the black and white as 6,900 and of the blackpool as 8,900.

Aretas A. Saunders (MS.) says: "The pitch of the songs varies, according
to my records, from B´´´ to E´´´´, a range of three and a half tones
more than an octave. A single song, however, does not vary more than
three and a half tones."

A second song, not heard, I think, until the bird has been on its
breeding ground for some time, is rather more pleasing, less monotonous,
than the first. It is longer, somewhat faster, more lively, and is
modulated in pitch. Francis H. Allen (MS.) speaks of it thus: "Later in
the season a more elaborate song is very commonly heard. I have been
accustomed to syllabify it as _weesy, weesy, weesy, weesy, woosy, woosy,
weesy, weesy_. The notes indicated by _woosy_ really differ from the
others only by being pitched lower."

Occasionally we hear aberrant songs which prove puzzling until we can
see the singer. Allen remarks that he has heard several such songs, and
I remember hearing one in which the lower note of each couplet was
reduplicated, thereby strongly suggested one of the songs of the
Blackburnian warbler. Sometimes _Mniotilta_ sings during flight. I once
heard a song from a bird flying within a few feet of me--at this range a
sound of piercing sharpness.

Of the minor notes Andrew Allison (1907) says: "I know of no other
warbler except the Chat that can produce so great a variety of sounds;
and since nearly all of the notes resemble those of other warblers, this
is a most confusing bird to deal with during the busy season of

The call note often has a buzzing quality, and often runs into a long
chatter (also characteristic of the young bird), but it may be given so
sharply enunciated that it suggests the _chip_ of the black-poll. Allen
(MS.) writes it _chi_, "like pebbles struck together," and Cordelia J.
Stanwood (1910) renders it _sptz_, saying "the sound resembled the noise
made by a drop of syrup sputtering on a hot stove."

_Field marks._--The black-poll, in its spring plumage, and the
black-and-white warbler resemble each other in coloration, but the
latter bird may be readily distinguished by its white stripe down the
center of the crown and the white line over the eye. The contrast in the
behavior of the two birds separates them at a glance.

_Enemies._--Like other birds which build on the ground, the
black-and-white is subject, during the nesting season, to attacks by
snakes and predatory mammals. A. D. DuBois (MS.) cites a case in which
maggots destroyed a nestful of young birds.

Harold S. Peters (1936) reports that a fly, _Ornithoica confluens_ Say,
and a louse, _Myrsidea incerta_ (Kellogg), have been found in the
plumage of the black-and-white warbler.

Herbert Friedmann (1929) says: "This aberrant warbler is a rather
uncommon victim of the Cowbird, only a couple dozen definite instances
having come to my notice. * * * The largest number of Cowbirds' eggs
found in a single nest of this Warbler is five, together with three eggs
of the owner." George W. Byers (1950) reports a nest of this warbler, in
Michigan, that held two eggs of the warbler and eight of the cowbird, on
which the warbler was incubating. His photograph of the eggs suggests
that they were probably laid by four different cowbirds.

_Fall._--Several of the warblers show a tendency to stray from their
breeding grounds soon after their young are able to care for themselves,
perhaps even before the postnuptial molt is completed and long before
the birds gather into the mixed autumn flocks. Among these early
wandering birds the black-and-white warbler is a very conspicuous
species, perhaps because it is one of our commoner birds or, more
probably, because of its habit of feeding in plain sight on the trunks
and low branches of dead or dying trees and shrubs instead of hiding,
like other warblers, high up in the foliage. It may be that the warblers
we see at some distance from their breeding grounds thus early in the
season have already begun their migration toward the south: they often
appear to be migrating.

Behind the house in Lexington, Mass., where I lived for years, there was
a little hill, sparsely covered with locust trees, to the southward from
my dooryard. This hill was a favorite resort for warblers in late
summer. No warbler bred within a mile of the spot, except the summer
yellowbird, to use the old name, yet soon after the first of July the
black-and-white warblers began to assemble there. Not infrequently I
have seen a single bird come to the hill, flying in from the north
across Lexington Common, and join others there. The small company might
remain for an hour or more, frequently singing (evidently adult males)
as the birds fed in the locust trees.

Later in the season, as August advances, migration appears more evident.
The birds now gather in larger numbers, sometimes as many as eight or
ten; they pause in the locust trees for a shorter time before flying
off; they are no longer in song; and the majority of the birds have
white cheeks, most of them presumably young birds. Although they are
almost silent as they climb about feeding, if you stand quietly in the
midst of a company of four or five, now and then you may hear a faint
note, and at once the note comes from all sides, each bird apparently
reporting its whereabouts--a sound which calls to mind the south-bound
migrants as they roam through the quiet autumn woods. Other warblers,
unquestionably migrants, visit this hillside in August, notably the
Tennessee, an early arrival who has already traveled a long way.

The fall migration of the black-and-white is long-drawn-out. The bird
does not depend, like many of the warblers, on finding food among the
foliage, so it may linger long after the trees are bare of leaves,
sometimes, here in New England, well into October. I saw a bird in
eastern Massachusetts on October 23, 1940, a very late date.

_Winter._--Dr. Alexander F. Skutch (MS.) sent to A. C. Bent the
following comprehensive account of the bird on its winter quarters:
"None of our warblers is more catholic in its choice of a winter home
than the black-and-white. Upon its departure from its nesting range, it
spreads over a vast area from the Gulf States south to Ecuador and
Venezuela, from the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America eastward
through the Antilles. And in the mountainous regions of its winter range
it does not, like so many members of the family, restrict itself to a
particular altitudinal zone, but on the contrary scatters from sea level
high up into the mountains. As a result of this wide dispersion,
latitudinal and altitudinal, it appears to be nowhere abundant in
Central America during the winter months, yet it has been recorded from
more widely scattered localities than most other winter visitants. On
the southern coast of Jamaica, in December 1930, I found a greater
concentration of individuals than I have ever seen in Central America
during midwinter.

"Wintering throughout the length of Central America, from near sea level
up to 9,000 feet and rarely higher, the black-and-white warbler is
somewhat more abundant in that portion of its altitudinal range
comprised between 2,000 or 3,000 and 7,000 or 8,000 feet above sea
level. It is found in the heavy forest, in the more open types of
woodland, among the shade trees of the coffee plantations, and even amid
low second-growth with scattered trees. It creeps along the branches in
exactly the same fashion in its winter as in its summer home. Solitary
in its disposition, two of the kind are almost never seen together. The
only time I have heard this warbler sing in Central America was also one
of the very few occasions when I found two together. Early on the bright
morning of September 1, 1933, when the warblers were arriving from the
north, I heard the black-and-white's weak little song repeated several
times among the trees at the edge of an oak wood, at an altitude of
8,500 feet in the Guatemalan highlands. Looking into the tree tops, I
saw two of these birds together. Apparently they were singing in
rivalry, as red-faced warblers, Kaup's redstarts, yellow warblers, and
other members of the family solitary during the winter months will sing
in the face of another of their kind, at seasons when they are usually
silent. Often such songs lead to a pursuit or even a fight; but I have
never seen black-and-white warblers actually engaged in a conflict in
their winter home.

"Although intolerant of their own kind, the black-and-white warblers are
not entirely hermits; for often a single one will attach itself to a
mixed flock of small birds. In the Guatemalan highlands, during the
winter months, such flocks are composed chiefly of Townsend's warblers;
and each flock, in addition to numbers of the truly gregarious birds,
will contain single representatives of various species of more solitary
disposition, among them often a lone black-and-white, so different in
appearance and habits from any of its associates.

"This warbler arrives and departs early. It has been recorded during the
first week of August in Guatemala, and by the latter part of the month
in Costa Rica and Panamá. In Costa Rica, it appears not to linger beyond
the middle or more rarely the end of March; while for northern Central
America my latest date is April 22.

"Early dates of fall arrival in Central America are: Guatemala--passim
(Griscom), August 3; Sierra de Tecpán, August 23, 1933; Santa María de
Jesús, August 6, 1934; Huehuetenango, August 14, 1934. Honduras--Tela,
August 19, 1930. Costa Rica--San José (Cherrie), August 20; Carrillo
(Carriker), September 1; San Isidro de Coronado, September 8, 1935;
Basin of El General, September 19, 1936; Vara Blanca, September 5, 1937;
Murcia, September 11, 1941. Panamá--Canal Zone (Arbib and Loetscher),
August 24, 1933, and August 29, 1934. Ecuador--Pastaza Valley, below
Baños, October 17, 1939.

"Late dates of spring departure from Central America are: Costa
Rica--Basin of El General, February 23, 1936, March 10, 1939, March 26,
1940, March 3, 1942, March 18, 1943; Vara Blanca, March 13, 1938;
Guayabo (Carriker), March 30; Juan Viñas (Carriker), March 21.
Honduras--Tela, April 22, 1930. Guatemala--Motagua Valley, near Los
Amates, April 17, 1932; Sierra de Tecpán, February 20, 1933."

The bird has a wide winter range, as shown above. Dr. Thomas Barbour
(1943) speaks of it thus in Cuba: "Common in woods and thickets. A few
arrive in August, and by September they are very abundant, especially in
the overgrown jungles about the Ciénaga."

Edward S. Dingle (MS.) has sent to A. C. Bent a remarkable winter record
of a black-and-white warbler seen on Middleburg plantation, Huger, S.
C., on January 13, 1944.


_Range._--Canada to northern South America.

_Breeding range._--The black-and-white warbler breeds =north= to
southwestern Mackenzie, rarely (Simpson and Providence; has been
collected at Norman); northern Alberta (Chipewyan and McMurray); central
Saskatchewan (Flotten Lake, probably Grand Rapids, and Cumberland
House); southern Manitoba (Duck Mountain, Lake St. Martin, Winnipeg, and
Indian Bay); central Ontario (Kenora, Pagwachuan River mouth, and Lake
Abitibi; has occurred at Piscapecassy Creek on James Bay, and at Moose
Factory); southern Quebec (Lake Tamiskaming, Blue Sea Lake, Quebec,
Mingan, and Mascanin; has occurred at Sandwich Bay, Labrador); and
central Newfoundland (Deer Lake, Nicholsville, Lewisport, and Fogo
Island). =East= to Newfoundland (Fogo Island and White Bear River); Nova
Scotia (Halifax and Yarmouth); the Atlantic coast to northern New Jersey
(Elizabeth and Morristown); eastern Pennsylvania (Berwyn); Maryland
(Baltimore and Cambridge); eastern Virginia (Ashland and Lawrenceville);
North Carolina (Raleigh and Charlotte); South Carolina (Columbia and
Aiken); and central Georgia (Augusta and Milledgeville). =South= to
central Georgia (Milledgeville); south central Alabama (Autaugaville);
north-central Mississippi (Starkville and Legion Lake); northern
Louisiana (Monroe; rarely to southern Louisiana, Bayou Sora); and
northeastern and south-central Texas (Marshall, Dallas, Classen,
Kerrville, and Junction). =West= to central Texas (Junction and Palo
Dura Canyon); central Kansas (Clearwater); central-northern Nebraska
(Valentine); possibly eastern Montana (Glasgow); central Alberta
(Camrose, Glenevis, and Lesser Slave Lake); to southwestern Mackenzie
(Simpson). There is a single record of its occurrence in June at Gautay,
Baja California, 25 miles south of the international border.

_Winter range._--In winter the black-and-white warbler is found =north=
to southern Texas (Cameron County, occasionally Cove, and Texarkana);
central Mississippi, occasionally (Clinton); accidental in winter at
Nashville, Tenn.; southern Alabama (Fairfield); southern Georgia (Lumber
City, occasionally Milledgeville, and Athens); and rarely to
central-eastern South Carolina (Edisto Island and Charleston). =East= to
the coast of South Carolina, occasionally (Charleston); Georgia
(Blackbeard Island); Florida (St. Augustine, New Smyrna, and Miami); the
Bahamas (Abaco, Watling, and Great Abaco Islands); Dominican Republic
(Samaná); Puerto Rico; Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles to
Dominica; and eastern Venezuela (Paria Peninsula). =South= to northern
Venezuela (Paria Peninsula, Rancho Grande, and Mérida); west-central
Colombia (Bogotá); and central Ecuador (Pastazo Valley). =West= to
central and western Ecuador (Pastazo Valley and Quito); western Colombia
(Pueblo Rico); western Panamá (Dvala); El Salvador (Mount Cacaguatique);
western Guatemala (Mazatenango); Guerrero (Acapulco and Coyuca); Colima
(Manzanillo); northwestern Pueblo (Metlatayuca); western Nuevo León
(Monterey); and southern Texas (Cameron County). It also occurs casually
in the Cape region of Baja California and in southern California (Dehesa
and Carpenteria). There are also several records in migration from
California and from western Sinaloa.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Venezuela--Yacua, Paria Peninsula, March 20. Colombia--Santa Marta
region, March 12. Panamá--Gatún, March 26. Costa Rica--El General, April
9. Honduras--Tola, April 22. Guatemala--Quiriguá, April 17. Veracruz--El
Conejo, May 15. Puerto Rico--Algonobo, April 27. Haiti--Île à Vache, May
6. Cuba--Habana, May 25. Bahamas--Abaco, May 6. Florida--Orlando, May
21. Georgia--Cumberland, May 26. Louisiana--Avery Island, April 27.

Early dates of spring arrival are: South Carolina--Clemson College,
March 20. North Carolina--Weaverville, March 3. Virginia--Lawrenceville,
March 23. District of Columbia--Washington, March 30. New York--Corning,
April 18. Massachusetts--Stockbridge, April 16. Vermont--St. Johnsbury,
April 19. Maine--Lewiston, April 27. Quebec--Montreal, April 26. Nova
Scotia--Wolfville, April 29. Mississippi--Deer Island, March 4.
Louisiana--Schriever, March 8. Arkansas--March 12. Tennessee--Nashville,
March 20. Illinois--Chicago, April 17. Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 6.
Ohio--Toledo, April 7. Ontario--Guelph, April 22. Missouri--Marionville,
April 3. Iowa--Grinnell, April 16. Wisconsin--Milwaukee, April 20.
Minnesota--Lanesboro, April 23. Kansas--Independence, April 1.
Omaha--April 21. North Dakota--April 28. Manitoba--Winnipeg, April 28.
Alberta--Edmonton, May 6; McMurray, May 15. Mackenzie--Simpson, May 22.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alberta--Athabaska Landing, September
11. Manitoba--Aweme, September 22. North Dakota--Argusville, October 2.
Minnesota--Minneapolis, October 10. Iowa--Davenport, October 1.
Missouri--Columbia, October 24. Wisconsin--Madison, October 7.
Illinois--Port Byron, October 15. Ontario--Hamilton, October 3.
Michigan--Detroit, October 15. Ohio--Youngstown, October 15.
Kentucky--Danville, October 14. Tennessee--Athens, October 17.
Arkansas--Winslow, October 17. Louisiana--New Orleans, October 25.
Mississippi--Gulfport, November 19. Quebec--Quebec, September 18. New
Brunswick--St. John, September 19. Nova Scotia--Yarmouth, September 23.
Maine--Portland, October 17. New Hampshire--Ossipee, October 18.
Massachusetts--Cambridge, October 15. New York--New York, October 6.
Pennsylvania--Atglen, October 29. District of Columbia--Washington,
October 18. Virginia--Charlottesville, October 18. North
Carolina--Raleigh, October 29. South Carolina--Charleston, November 15.
Georgia--Savannah, October 29.

Early dates of fall arrival are: South Carolina--Charleston, July 19.
Florida--Pensacola, July 12. Cuba--Artemisa, Pinar del Río, August 1.
Dominican Republic--Ciudad Trujillo, September 27. Puerto
Rico--Mayagüez, October 9. Louisiana--New Orleans, July 21.
Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, July 4. Michoacán--Tancitaro, August 7.
Guatemala--Huehuetenango, August 14. Honduras--Cantarranas, August 7.
Costa Rica--San José, August 20. Panamá--Tapia, Canal Zone, August 24.
Colombia--Bonda, Santa Marta region, August 21. Ecuador--Pastaza Valley,
October 17. Venezuela--Estado Carabobo Las Trincheras, October 9.

_Banding._--A single banding recovery is of considerable interest: A
black-and-white banded at Manchester, N. H., on August 31, 1944, was
found on March 17, 1945, at Friendship P. O., Westmoreland, Jamaica.

_Casual records._--This warbler is casual in migration or winters in
Bermuda, having been recorded in six different years from October to

At Tingwall, Shetland Islands, north of Scotland one was picked up on
November 28, 1936. This is almost as far north as the northernmost
record of occurrence in North America and later than it is normally
found in the United States.

A specimen was collected near Pullman, Wash., on August 15, 1948, the
first record for the State.

_Egg dates._--Massachusetts: 31 records, May 18 to June 14; 17 records,
May 25 to June 3, indicating the height of the season.

New Jersey: 7 records, May 18 to June 8.

Tennessee: 3 records, May 1 to 17.

North Carolina: 6 records, April 20 to 28.

West Virginia: 7 records, May 6 to 29 (Harris).





I do not like the above name for the golden swamp warbler. The
scientific name _Protonotaria_, and evidently the common name, were
apparently both derived from the Latin _protonotarius_, meaning first
notary or scribe. I sympathize with Bagg and Eliot (1937), who

What a name to saddle on the Golden Swamp-bird! Wrongly compounded in
the first place, wrongly spelled, wrongly pronounced! We understand that
Protonotarius is the title of papal officials whose robes are bright
yellow, but why say "First Notary" in mixed Greek and Latin, instead of
Primonotarius? Proto is Greek for first, as in prototype. Why and when
did it come to be misspelled Protho? Both Wilson and Audubon wrote
Protonotary Warbler, a name seemingly first given to the bird by
Louisiana Creoles. Both etymology and sense call for stress on the third
syllable, yet one most often hears the stress laid on the second. Here,
certainly, is a bothersome name fit only to be eschewed!

The scientific name cannot be changed under the rules of nomenclature,
but a change in the common name would seem desirable. However, the name
does not make the bird or detract from its charm and beauty. It will
still continue to thrill with delight the wanderer in its swampy haunts.

The center of abundance of the prothonotary warbler as a breeding bird
in this country is in the valleys of the Mississippi River and its
tributaries, notably the Ohio, the Wabash, and the Illinois Rivers. Its
summer range extends eastward into Indiana and Ohio, northward into
southern Ontario, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, and westward into
Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas--wherever it can
find suitable breeding grounds.

It also breeds in the Atlantic Coast States from Virginia to Florida.

It is essentially a bird of the damp and swampy river bottoms and
low-lying woods, which are flooded at times and in which woodland pools
have been left by the receding water. Perhaps this warbler abounds more
than anywhere else in the valley of the lower Wabash, where William
Brewster (1878) found it to be--

one of the most abundant and characteristic species. Along the shores of
the rivers and creeks generally, wherever the black willow (_Salix
niger_) grew, a few pairs were sure to be found. Among the button-bushes
(_Cephalanthus occidentalis_) that fringed the margin of the peculiar
long narrow ponds scattered at frequent intervals over the heavily
timbered bottoms of the Wabash and White Rivers, they also occurred more
or less numerously. Potoka Creek, a winding, sluggish stream, thickly
fringed with willows, was also a favorite resort; but the grand
rendezvous of the species seemed to be about the shores of certain
secluded ponds lying in what is known as the Little Cypress Swamp. Here
they congregated in astonishing numbers, and early in May were breeding
almost in colonies. In the region above indicated two things were found
to be essential to their presence, namely, an abundance of willows and
the immediate proximity of water. * * * So marked was this preference,
that the song of the male heard from the woods indicated to us as surely
the proximity of some river, pond, or flooded swamp, as did the croaking
of frogs or the peep of the Hylas.

Dr. Chapman (1907) writes of this bird in its haunts:

The charm of its haunts and the beauty of its plumage combine to render
the Prothonotary Warbler among the most attractive members of the
family. I clearly recall my own first meeting with it in the Suwanee
River region of Florida. Quietly paddling my canoe along one of the many
enchanting, and, I was then quite willing to believe, enchanted streams
which flowed through the forests into the main river, this glowing bit
of bird-life gleamed like a torch in the night. No neck-straining
examination with opera-glass pointed to the tree-tops, was required to
determine his identity, as, flitting from bush to bush along the river's
bank, his golden plumes were displayed as though for my special benefit.

Dr. Lawrence H. Walkinshaw (1938) says that the golden swamp warbler
"nests rather abundantly along southwestern-Michigan rivers. * * *
Winding streams, bordered densely with oak, maple, ash, and elm, shallow
ponds with groups of protruding willows and flooded, heavily shaded
bottom-lands are favorite nesting habitats for the Prothonotary Warbler
(_Protonotaria citrea_). Such habitats occur along the banks of the
Kalamazoo River and its tributary the Battle Creek River in Calhoun
County, Michigan."

_Territory._--The males arrive on the breeding grounds a few days or a
week before the females come and immediately try to establish their
territories, select the nesting sites, and even build nests. Dr.
Walkinshaw (1941) writes:

The Prothonotary Warbler is a very strongly territorial species. When a
male takes possession of a certain area he continually drives off all
opponents if he is able. At certain areas in Michigan I have watched
these birds battle intermittently for two or three days, usually for the
same bird house, one male finally taking possession. In addition I have
observed them to drive off House Wrens (_Troglodytes aedon_),
Black-capped Chickadees (_Penthestes atricapillus_) and Yellow Warblers
(_Dendroica aestiva_). * * * The male Prothonotary Warbler selects the
territory, selecting the nesting site before he becomes mated for the
first nest, but thereafter both birds inspect the new nest sites.

On observations made near Knoxville, Tenn., Henry Meyer and Ruth Reed
Nevius (1943) found that--

three males established territories. Male I arrived April 14. By the
next day he was singing on an area 550 feet long and for the most part
not more than 200 feet wide. It included three kinds of habitats: (a) a
grassy terrace on which several nesting boxes were located, (b) river
banks densely covered with small trees and bushes, and (c) a small open
orchard which constituted the connecting link between the terrace and
the river bank. Male II arrived on April 18 and occupied a narrow
territory along a brook confined by wooded slopes and which contained
two lotus ponds. The area was about 400 feet long and 100 feet wide. A
nesting box was on a stake above one of the ponds. Male III appeared May
5 in the terraced area being claimed by Male I. During the day, the 2
males sang energetically and flew often only a few inches apart. Male I
maintained his territory and Male III disappeared.

There were a number of nesting boxes on the area that the males
investigated, carrying nesting material into some of them while they
were waiting for the females to arrive. The mate of the first male came
on April 20, and--

on this day this pair communicated by their full call-note. Twice the
male was seen pursuing the female rapidly in a small semi-circle and
pausing, called a soft, full note which was later heard only when the
two sexes were together.

The mate of Male II came April 22, four days after the latter's arrival.

Combat with other species found within the territories of these birds
was observed. Combat with the Bluebird was most frequent but one or more
indications of opposition was noticed with the Flicker, Downy
Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Tufted Titmouse, Robin, and Cardinal.

The males sing persistently and energetically from the time that they
arrive on their territories, hoping to attract their mates, but they are
not always successful, especially in regions where the species is rare
or not very common, and their nest-building brings no occupant. Edward
von S. Dingle writes to me that, at Summerton, S. C., a male
prothonotary warbler built a nest in a low stub, but no female was ever
seen. He sang frequently and remained in the vicinity for several weeks.
And Frederic H. Kennard, in far-away Massachusetts, mentions in his
notes that he saw one and watched it for several days, June 16-20, 1890.
"He sang loudly and clearly and sweetly, and seemed to like a particular
place by the side of the river, for when I returned later in the day, he
was still there, on the other side of the river." On June 19, he watched
him for half an hour. He was always in the same locality. On a later
search, no nest or no mate could be found.

_Courtship._--Brewster (1878a) gives the following full account of this

Mating began almost immediately after the arrival of the females, and
the "old, old story" was told in many a willow thicket by the little
golden-breasted lovers. The scene enacted upon such occasions was not
strikingly different from that usual among the smaller birds; retiring
and somewhat indifferent coyness on the part of the female; violent
protestations and demonstrations from the male, who swelled his plumage,
spread his wings and tail, and fairly danced around the object of his
affections. Sometimes at this juncture another male appeared, and then a
fierce conflict was sure to ensue. The combatants would struggle
together most furiously until the weaker was forced to give way and take
to flight. On several occasions I have seen two males, after fighting
among the branches for a long time, clinch and come fluttering together
to the water beneath, where for several minutes the contest continued
upon the surface until both were fairly drenched. The males rarely meet
in the mating season without fighting, even though no female may be
near. Sometimes one of them turns tail at the outset; and the other at
once giving chase, the pursuer and pursued, separated by a few inches
only, go darting through the woods, winding, doubling, now careering
away up among the tree-tops, now down over the water, sweeping close to
the surface until the eye becomes weary with following their mad flight.
During all this time the female usually busies herself with feeding,
apparently entirely unconcerned as to the issue. Upon the return of
the conqueror her indifference, real or assumed, vanishes, he receives
a warm welcome, and matters are soon arranged between them.

_Nesting._--The prothonotary warbler and Lucy's warbler are the only two
American warblers that habitually build their nests in cavities, usually
well concealed. The normal, and probably the original, primitive,
nestling sites are in natural cavities in trees and most nests are still
to be found in such situations today. The prothonotary is not at all
particular as to the species of trees, nests having been found in many
kinds of trees, although perhaps a slight preference is shown for dead
willow stumps. Nor is it particular as to the size or condition of the
cavity, or its location, though quite often choosing one over water or
near it. The height above the ground or water varies from 3 feet or less
to as much as 32 feet but there are more nests below 5 feet than there
are above 10, the height of the majority being between 5 and 10 feet.
The size and shape of the cavity are of little concern; if the cavity is
too deep, the industrious little birds fill it with nesting material up
to within a few inches of the top; sometimes a very shallow cavity is
used, so that the bird can be plainly seen from a distance as it sits on
the nest. The old deserted holes of woodpeckers or chickadees are
favorite nesting sites; the entrances to these have often been enlarged
by other agencies, or are badly weathered. In very rotten stumps, the
warblers have been known to excavate partially or to enlarge a cavity.

The nests built by the males in early spring, referred to above, are
probably rarely used as brood nests and might be classed as dummy nests.
The family nest is built almost entirely by the female, with
encouragement and a little help from her mate, who accompanies her to
and from the nest and in the search for material; much of the soft,
green moss used extensively in the nest is often obtainable from fallen
logs and stumps in the vicinity.

Brewster (1878a) mentions a nest taken from a deep cavity that "when
removed presents the appearance of a compact mass of moss five or six
inches in height by three or four in diameter. When the cavity is
shallow, it is often only scantily lined with moss and a few fine roots.
The deeper nests are of course the more elaborate ones. One of the
finest specimens before me is composed of moss, dry leaves, and cypress
twigs. The cavity for the eggs is a neatly rounded, cup-shaped hollow,
two inches in diameter by one and a half in depth, smoothly lined with
fine roots and a few wing-feathers of some small bird."

In Dr. Walkinshaw's (1938) Michigan nests, "moss constituted the bulk of
the nesting material in nearly all cases, completely filling the nest
space whether it was large or small. On top of this the nest proper was
shaped and a rough lining of coarse grape-bark, dead leaves, black
rootlets procured from the river-banks, and poison-ivy tendrils was
added. Above this a lining of much finer rootlets, leaf-stems, and very
fine grasses was used."

In addition to the materials listed above Meyer and Nevius (1943)
mention hackberry leaves, hairs, pine needles, horsehair, and cedar bark
in their Tennessee nests. They say that from 6 to 10 days were required
for nest construction, and that from 3 to 5 days more elapsed before the
first eggs were laid. Their four nests were all in bird-boxes; one was
in an orchard over plowed ground, one over a lotus pond in a wooded
ravine, and two were over lily pools near buildings.

Dr. Walkinshaw (1938) publishes a map showing the location of 21 nesting
boxes along the winding banks of the Battle Creek River, in Calhoun
County, Mich., and writes: "Of the 28 nests found during 1937, 19 were
in bird-houses over running water, 6 were in stubs over water (2 of
which were over running water), and the other 3 were in natural holes
back from the river bank. Of 44 nests found from 1930 through 1937,
excluding the 21 in bird-houses, six were over running water in old
woodpecker holes, one in a bridge-support in a slight depression, and
nine in natural holes over standing water. Seven were in old woodpecker
holes from two to a hundred and sixty feet back from the river-bank."

Many and varied are the odd nesting sites occupied by prothonotary
warblers. Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1936) writes:

The vagaries of this bird in choosing artificial nesting-places are
shown by the positions of the following nests. On the La Crosse railroad
bridge: in a cigar-box nailed on the engine-house on top of the draw; on
one of the piers; in a metal ventilator-cap four inches in diameter,
that had fallen and lodged just at the point where the draw banged
against the pier, and close under the tracks; in a shallow cavity in a
piece of slab-wood nailed to a trestle-support close under the road-bed
of the railroad; these all far out in the middle of the Mississippi
River. Still others are: in a Bluebird box on a low post by a
switching-house and busy railroad platform; in a cleft in a pile in the
river; in a tin cup in a barn, to reach which the birds entered through
a broken pane of glass; in a pasteboard box on a shelf in a little
summer-house; in an upright glass fruit jar in a house-boat; and other
similar situations. In most cases the birds had to carry the
nesting-material long distances, especially to the places on the bridge.

John W. Moyer (1933) relates an interesting story that was told to him
by people living in a farm house along the Kankakee River. A pair of
these warblers built their nests and raised their broods for three
consecutive seasons in the pocket of an old hunting-coat, hung in a
garage; each year the man cleaned out the nest and used the coat in the
fall, and the next spring the birds used it again. M. G. Vaiden tells me
of a similar case.

Nests have been found in buildings, on beams and other supports. Louis
W. Campbell (1930) reports two on shelves in sheds, one in a small paper
sack partly filled with staples and another in a coffee can similarly
filled. Nests in cans in various situations have been found a number of
times, and others have been reported in a tin pail hung under a porch,
in a mail box, in a box on a moving ferry boat, in a Chinese lantern on
a pavilion, and in an old hornets' nest.

Dr. Walkinshaw writes to me: "At Reelfoot Lake, Tenn., during July,
1940, I found 8 nests of the prothonotary warbler, all built a few feet
above the water in small natural holes in cypress knees. Evidently these
are regular late-summer nesting sites." The knees were farther under
water earlier in the season. Most of his 76 Michigan nests were over
water, or less than 100 feet from it; but 10 were 300 or more feet away
from it and 2 were over 400 feet away. M. G. Vaiden tells me of a pair
that nested in the tool box of a log-loading machine that was in daily
operation, hauling logs.

_Eggs._--From 3 to 8 eggs have been found in nests of the prothonotary
warbler, from 4 to 6 seem to be the commonest numbers, 7 is a fairly
common number, and at least 3 sets of 8 have been reported; in the
J. P. Norris series of 70 sets are 34 sets of 6, 15 sets of 7, and
2 sets of 8.

The eggs vary in shape from ovate to short ovate, and they are more or
less glossy. The eggs are undoubtedly the most striking of the warblers'
eggs, with their rich creamy, or rose-tinted cream, ground color, boldly
and liberally spotted and blotched with "burnt umber," "bay," "chestnut
brown," and "auburn," intermingled with spots and undertones of "light
Payne's gray," "Rood's lavender," "violet-gray," and "purplish gray."
There is quite a variation in the amount of markings, which are
generally more or less evenly scattered over the entire egg; some are
sparingly spotted and blotched, while others are so profusely marked as
almost to obscure the ground color (Harris).

J. P. Norris (1890b), in his description of his 70 sets, describes 2
eggs in each of 2 sets as "unmarked, save for four or five indistinct
specks of cinnamon." These were in sets of 6 eggs each. Pure white,
unmarked eggs were once taken by R. M. Barnes (1889). Dr. Walkinshaw
(1938) gives the measurements of 78 eggs as averaging 18.47 by 14.55
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measured =20= by 15, 19
by =16=, and =17= by =13= millimeters.

_Incubation._--The eggs are laid, usually one each day, very early in
the morning; Dr. Walkinshaw (1941) says between 5:00 and 7:00 a. m. in
Michigan; Meyer and Nevius (1943), in Tennessee, saw the female enter
the nest to lay as early as 5:00 a. m. on May 2, and as early as 4:44 on
May 23, remaining in the nest from 28 to 36 minutes on different
occasions. The period of incubation is recorded as 12, 13-1/2, and 14
days by different observers; about 13 seems to be the average, according
to Dr. Walkinshaw (MS.), probably depending on conditions and the method
of reckoning. Incubation seems to be performed entirely by the female,
but the male feeds her to some extent while she is on the nest.
Incubation starts the day before the last egg is laid.

_Young._--Meyer and Nevius (1943) write:

The adults shared feeding duties, and both removed fecal sacks. During
the first three days the female steadily brooded the young. One female,
observed from 4:55 to 8:10 a. m., when the young were one day old, spent
a total of 70 minutes off and 155 minutes on the nest. Trips from the
nest lasted an average of 8.6 minutes, while periods on the nest
averaged 19.4 minutes. * * * At one nest when the young were eight days
old, activities were noted during the eight and one-half hours from 8:30
a. m. to 5:30 p. m. The young were fed an average of 16 times an hour.
* * * The adults were seen carrying spiders and insects, small green
caterpillars frequently being used. Mr. H. P. Ijams saw a male offer a
10-day old nestling a may-fly. An incubator-hatched bird accepted
egg-yolk, ants, ant larvae, crickets, earthworms, and spiders.

They say of the development of the young: "The young on the day of
hatching had orange-red skin. The mouth lining was red. Down was
distributed over the frontal and occipital areas of the capital tract,
spinal tract, femoral, altar, and humeral tracts. Feather sheaths of
the alar tracts penetrated the skin the first day after hatching. On the
second day after hatching the eye-slits began to open. Feather sheaths
of the humeral, femoral, and crural tracts emerged on the third day;
those on the dorsal and ventral tracts emerged on the fourth day, and
those of the capital and caudal tracts on the fifth day. On the fifth
day the sheaths began breaking." During the next five days the young
developed rapidly and became more and more active, and on the tenth day
began to leave the nest.

Young observed by Dr. Walkinshaw (1914) at Reelfoot Lake "averaged 11
days of age when leaving the nest in 1939, while 21 young in Michigan
during 1939 and 1940 remained in the nest for a period of 10-3/4 days."
Of the comparative nesting success in the two localities, he says:

In Michigan from 1930 through 1940, 121 nests of the Prothonotary
Warbler were observed. Only 28, or 23.14 per cent, were successful. Out
of 413 eggs, 159 (38.47 per cent) hatched and 100 young were fledged
(.87 per total nest; 3.78 per successful nest). The fledgling success
was 25.66 per cent of eggs laid. More failures in Michigan resulted in
more nestings by individual birds.

In Tennessee during 1939, 30 nests were observed until terminated or
successful; 19 were successful (63.33 per cent) while out of 139 eggs,
78 hatched and all the young lived to leave the nest or 56.11 per cent
fledging success of eggs laid; 2.6 young were fledged per total nest;
4.1 per successful nest.

He also notes that in Michigan the species is typically single-brooded
if the first nesting is successful, but that in Tennessee it is
typically double-brooded.

_Plumages._--According to Dr. Dwight (1900) the natal down, located as
indicated above, is brownish mouse-gray. Ridgway (1902) gives rather the
best description of the juvenal plumage as follows: "Pileum, hindneck,
back, and scapulars dull olive-greenish; wing-coverts, tertials, rump,
and upper tail-coverts slate-gray, tinged with olive, the middle and
greater wing-coverts narrowly tipped with light olive-greenish,
producing two very indistinct bands; secondaries, primaries, and
rectrices as in adults; sides of head pale yellowish olive; chin,
throat, and chest dull light grayish olive, darkest on chest rest of
under parts dull white, passing on sides and flanks into olive-grayish."

In very young birds, according to Dr. Dwight, there is a variable amount
of brownish wash on the back, which fades out to gray. And Dr. Chapman
(1907) says that the white on the inner webs of the tail feathers is
more restricted than in adults and more or less mottled with blackish.
This first plumage is followed in June and July by a partial postjuvenal
molt involving all the contour plumage and the wing coverts but not the
rest of the wings or the tail. The young bird now becomes a golden swamp
warbler, the young being nearly like the adults, the females being
considerably duller in color than the males and having less white in the

The crown and hind neck in both sexes, both old and young, are washed
with dusky or olive in the fall. Spring plumages are produced by very
slight wear without molt. There is one complete, annual molt in late

_Food._--Very little seems to have been recorded on the food of the
prothonotary warbler. It is evidently highly insectivorous, obtaining
most of its food from the trunks and branches of trees and shrubs and
from fallen logs. Brewster (1878) says: "This Warbler usually seeks its
food low down among thickets, moss-grown logs, or floating débris, and
always about water. Sometimes it ascends tree-trunks for a little way
like the Black-and-White Creeper, winding about with the same peculiar

Dr. Roberts (1936) lists "ants, and other insects and their larvae," as
its food. Some of the food of the young is mentioned above, most of
which is doubtless included in the food of the adults. Spiders, beetles,
may-flies, and other insects should be included, as well as many
caterpillars and the larvae of water insects. Audubon (1841) says: "It
often perches upon the rank grasses and water plants, in quest of minute
molluscous animals which creep upon them, and which, together with small
land snails, I have found in its stomach."

_Behavior._--Brewster (1878a) observes:

When seen among the upper branches, where it often goes to plume its
feathers and sing in the warm sunshine, it almost invariably sits nearly
motionless. Its flight is much like that of the Water-Thrush (either
species), and is remarkably swift, firm, and decided. When crossing a
broad stream it is slightly undulating, though always direct. * * *

In general activity and restlessness few birds equal the species under
consideration. Not a nook or corner of his domain but is repeatedly
visited through the day. Now he sings a few times from the top of some
tall willow that leans out over the stream, sitting motionless among the
yellowish foliage, fully aware, perhaps, of the protection afforded by
its harmonizing tints. The next moment he descends to the cool shades
beneath, where dark, coffee-colored water, the overflow of the pond or
river, stretches back among the trees. Here he loves to hop about on
floating drift-wood, wet by the lapping of pulsating wavelets; now
following up some long, inclining, half-submerged log, peeping into
every crevice and occasionally dragging forth from its concealment a
spider or small beetle, turning alternately his bright yellow breast and
olive back towards the light; now jetting his beautiful tail or
quivering his wings tremulously, he darts off into some thicket in
response to a call from his mate; or, flying to a neighboring
tree-trunk, clings for a moment against the mossy bole to pipe his
little strain or look up the exact whereabouts of some suspected insect

_Voice._--The same gifted writer and careful observer (Brewster, 1878)
gives the following good account of the distinctive song of this

The usual song of the Prothonotary Warbler sounds at a distance like the
call of the Solitary Sandpiper, with a syllable or two added,--a simple
_peet, tweet, tweet, tweet_, given on the same key throughout. Often
when the notes came from the farther shore of a river or pond we were
completely deceived. On more than one occasion, when a good opportunity
for comparison was offered by the actual presence of both birds at the
same time, we found that at the distance of several hundred yards their
notes were absolutely undistinguishable; nearer at hand, however, the
resemblance is lost, and a ringing, penetrating quality becomes apparent
in the Warbler's song. It now sounds like _peet, tsweet, tsweet,
tsweet_, or sometimes _tweet, tr-sweet, tr-sweet, tr-sweet_. When the
bird sings within a few yards the sound is almost startling in its
intensity, and the listener feels inclined to stop his ears. The male is
a fitful singer, and is quite as apt to be heard in the hot noontide or
on cloudy days, when other birds are silent, as during the cool morning
and evening hours. The ordinary note of alarm or distress is a sharp
one, so nearly like that of the Large-billed Water Thrush (_Siurus
motacilla_) that the slight difference can only be detected by a
critical ear. When the sexes meet a soft _tchip_ of recognition common
to nearly all the Warblers is used. In addition to the song above
described the male has a different and far sweeter one, which is
reserved for select occasions,--an outpouring of the bird's most tender
feelings, intended for the ears of his mate alone, like the rare evening
warble of the Oven-Bird (_Siurus auricapillus_). It is apparently
uttered only while on the wing.

Although so low and feeble as to be inaudible many rods away, it is very
sweet, resembling somewhat the song of the Canary, given in an
undertone, with trills or "water-notes" interspersed. The flight during
its delivery is very different from that at all other times. The bird
progresses slowly, with a trembling, fluttering motion, its head raised
and tail expanded. This song was heard most frequently after incubation
had begun.

Dr. Roberts (1936) refers to this flight song, as delivered "after the
manner of the Maryland Yellow-throat, * * * consisting first of the
usual rapid monotone of five or six notes and ending with a pleasing,
varied warble, full and strong in some of its notes and far sweeter than
the usual utterance."

Dr. Walkinshaw (1938) says of the usual song: "Uttered at the rate of
five or six times per minute, the song lasts slightly over one second.
It is given all day long from the time of arrival until the young have
left the nest and has been heard as late as the 16th of August (1931).
The frequency is much greater during the early nesting season and during
the earlier hours. During midday on warmer days the number of times per
hour seems much less. Later, from four until near sundown, it again
increases. During late nesting, when the young are about to leave the
nest, the rate again decreases, but it is heard several days after the
young leave the nest." Aretas A. Saunders tells me that the songs are
pitched at C´´´´ or B´´´, and the call note, _tseek,_ at A´´´.

_Field marks._--The golden swamp warbler could hardly be mistaken for
anything else. The rich, brilliant yellow of the head and breast,
sometimes almost orange on the head, only slightly paler in the female,
the absence of wing bars, and the large amount of white in the tail will
distinguish it.

_Enemies._--Dr. Walkinshaw (1941) says that the house wren is a serious
competitor with the prothonotary warbler in Michigan, contending with it
for nesting sites in the bird-boxes.

The cowbird is a persistent enemy of this warbler in spite of its
hole-nesting habits; perhaps if the warbler nested in deeper holes it
might find some relief from this pest. Among 70 sets of eggs of this
warbler in the J. P. Norris collection, 18 contain cowbirds' eggs. Dr.
Friedmann (1929) found no less than 36 records of such parasitism in the
literature, and says: "As many as four eggs of the Cowbird have been
found in a single nest together with four of the Warbler's. There are
several cases on record of doubled-storied nests of this bird, with a
Cowbird's egg buried in the lower story. Such cases are, however, not
common, and usually the Warbler seems to make no attempt to get rid of
the strange eggs." E. M. S. Dale wrote to me of a nest, found near
Toronto in 1933, that contained seven eggs of the cowbird and none at
all of the warbler!

Snakes sometimes destroy the eggs or young.

_Fall._--Dr. Walkinshaw (1938) says that "the majority of the
Prothonotaries leave our rivers [Michigan] by the second or third of
July. One may canoe some years a good many miles during the latter part
of July or the early part of August without finding a single
Prothonotary, whereas in other years many groups can be found. The
majority evidently are early migrants. Very few remain until late August
or early September, the latest date being September 9, 1934, at Battle

The 1931 A. O. U. Check-List states that this warbler apparently crosses
the Gulf of Mexico in migration "and is not found in Mexico north of
Campeche," but probably some migration is along the coast of Texas and
Mexico, as suggested by George G. Williams (1945).

Dr. Chapman (1907) says: "The route of the Prothonotary Warbler in its
fall migration is interesting; the breeding birds of the Middle Atlantic
States apparently pass southwest to northwestern Florida and then take a
seven-hundred-mile flight directly across the Gulf of Mexico to southern
Yucatan, instead of crossing to Cuba and thence to Yucatan."

Alexander F. Skutch writes to me: "Unrecorded from Guatemala, the
prothonotary warbler is a rare bird of passage and very rare winter
resident in the more southerly portions of Central America. When
Carriker published his list of Costa Rican birds in 1910, he had a few
records from the highlands--apparently of migrating birds--and from the
Pacific lowlands, but none from Caribbean lowlands. But on March 4,
1934, I found it not uncommon at Puerto Limón, where I saw one among the
royal palms in Vargas Park, and several among the shrubbery about the
outlying cottages, all within a hundred yards of the Caribbean Sea. It
has been recorded a number of times from the Canal Zone, but it is not
common there. It is almost always seen in the vicinity of water."

_Winter._--Apparently the main winter range is in Colombia and perhaps
Venezuela. Referring to Magdalena, Colombia, P. J. Darlington, Jr.
(1931), writes: "The Prothonotary Warbler swarms during the winter in
the mangroves at Sevillano and in the fresh swamps at Cienaga. It was
seen also in bushes on the sea beach at Donjaca September 15, and along
the Rio Frio River in the edge of the foothills, where it was especially
common in February. The birds usually occur near water, but numbers were
noted again and again in yellow-flowering, acacia-like trees on the
border of stump land and dry forest, far from water."


_Range._--Eastern United States to northwestern South America.

_Breeding range._--The prothonotary warbler breeds =north= to
southeastern Minnesota (Cambridge, Lake Pekin, and La Crescent); central
Wisconsin (New London and Shiocton); southern Michigan (Hesperia,
Lansing, and Ann Arbor); northern Ohio (Toledo and Cleveland); extreme
southern Ontario (Rondeau); western New York (Buffalo and Oak Orchard);
northern West Virginia (Parkersburg); central Maryland (Seneca and
Bowie); and southern Delaware (Gumboro). =East= to southern Delaware
(Gumboro); eastern Virginia (Dyke, near Alexandria, and Dismal Swamp);
and the Atlantic coast to central Florida (Lake Gentry and Padgett
Creek). =South= to central Florida (Padgett Creek and possibly
Puntarossa); the Gulf coast to southeastern Texas (Cove, Houston, and
Bloomington). =West= to central Texas (Bloomington, Fort Worth, and
Gainesville); central Oklahoma (Norman and Oklahoma City); eastern
Kansas (Emporia and Manhattan); northwestern Iowa (Lake Okoboji); and
southeastern Minnesota (Rochester, Red Wing, and Cambridge).

The prothonotary warbler has been recorded as casual or accidental
=west= to southeastern Nebraska (Powell and Lincoln); southeastern South
Dakota (Yankton and Sioux Falls); and central Minnesota (Brainerd).
=North= to southern Ontario (London and Hamilton); central New York
(Ithaca); Massachusetts (Northampton, Amherst, and Concord); New
Hampshire (Concord); and Maine (Matinicus Island and Calais).

_Winter range._--The winter home of the prothonotary warbler is in
Central America and northwestern South America where it has been found
=north= to northwestern Costa Rica (Bolson); Nicaragua (Escondido
River). =East= to northwestern Venezuela (Mérida and Encontrados); and
western Colombia (San José de Cucuta and Villavieja). =South= to
southwestern Colombia (Villavieja); and northwestern Ecuador
(Esmeraldas). =West= to northwestern Ecuador (Esmeraldas); western
Colombia (Antioquia); western Panamá (Paracote and David); and Costa
Rica (Puntarenas and Bolson). It has been reported to occur in winter in
Campeche and on Cozumel Island, Mexico, and casually or accidentally in
Cuba (Habana), Jamaica, and St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

_Migration._--The probable route of the prothonotary warbler between its
summer and winter homes is across the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatan
peninsula where it occurs in both spring and fall migration. The casual
or accidental occurrences of this warbler in Cuba (Habana); Jamaica; and
St. Croix, Virgin Islands, are in migration.

Late dates of spring departure are: Colombia--Villavieja, February 5.
Panamá; Canal Zone--Barro Colorado, March 10. Nicaragua--Edén, March 23.
Quintana Roo--Cozumel, April 6. Cuba--Habana, April 4.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Yucatán--Mérida, March 28.
Jamaica--Black River, February 28. Cuba--Habana, March 31.
Florida--Pensacola, March 18. Alabama--Booth, April 4.
Georgia--Fitzgerald, March 21. South Carolina--Yemassee, March 27.
North Carolina--Greenville, April 6. Virginia--Suffolk, April 10.
Mississippi--Gulfport, March 18. Louisiana--Morgan City, March 10.
Texas--Cove, March 28. Arkansas--Huttig, March 31. Missouri--St. Louis,
April 17. Kentucky--Bowling Green, April 5. Illinois--Murphysboro, April
17. Ohio--Berlin Center, April 18. Michigan--Grand Rapids, May 3.
Iowa--Iowa City, April 26. Wisconsin--Madison, May 2. Minnesota--Red
Wing, May 7. Oklahoma--Tulsa, April 2. Kansas--Manhattan, April 26.
Nebraska--Blue Springs, April 30.

Late dates of fall departure are: Nebraska--Watson, September 1.
Oklahoma--Oklahoma City, September 14. Texas--Kemah, September 11.
Wisconsin--Racine, September 22. Iowa--Sioux City, August 31.
Michigan--Three Rivers, September 13. Ohio--Columbus, October 5.
Illinois--Oak Park, October 17. Kentucky--Lexington, October 6.
Tennessee--Elizabethton, October 19. Louisiana--Monroe, October 8.
Mississippi--Deer Island, September 27. North Carolina--Raleigh, August
26. South Carolina--Charleston, September 17. Georgia--Atlanta, October
8. Yucatán--Chichén-Itzá, October 18.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Florida--Fort Myers, August 8.
Yucatán--Chichén-Itzá, October 7. Honduras--Tela, September 8.
Nicaragua--Río Escondido, September 2. Costa Rica--Bonilla, August 28.
Panamá--Obaldia, September 15. Colombia--Gaira, September 11.

_Banding records._--Banding provides a hint as to the life-span of the
prothonotary warbler. One banded as an immature on June 16, 1940, in
Convis township, Calhoun County, Mich., was color banded when it
returned to the same place in 1942. Subsequently it was identified by
the colored band on May 14, 1944, and May 10, 1945.

_Casual records._--The prothonotary warbler was reported at Nassau,
Bahamas, on August 29, 1898. It has been twice reported at Bermuda: one
shot from a flock in the fall of 1874, and another specimen collected in
November 1903. A single bird was observed at Mammoth Hot Springs,
Yellowstone Park, Wyo., on September 10, 1931. There are two records for
Arizona. On May 1, 1884, a specimen was taken near Tucson at an altitude
of 2,300 feet, the highest record of the species in the United States.
Another specimen was taken September 8, 1924, at Cave Creek, 4 miles
northeast of Paradise in the Chiricahua Mountains.

_Egg dates._ Florida: 8 records, April 18 to May 9; 5 records, April 28
to 30.

Illinois: 79 records, May 6 to June 21; 46 records, May 20 to June 4,
indicating the height of the season.

Iowa: 56 records, May 15 to June 26; 36 records, May 27 to June 6






"The history of our knowledge of Swainson's Warbler," write Brooks and
Legg (1942), "is a curious one, falling into definite periods." This
bird was discovered in the spring of 1832 by the Rev. John Bachman "near
the banks of the Edisto River, South Carolina." His discovery of the
bird is described as follows: "I was first attracted by the novelty of
its notes, four or five in number, repeated at intervals of five or six
minutes apart. These notes were loud, clear, and more like a whistle
than a song. They resembled the sounds of some extraordinary
ventriloquist in such a degree, that I supposed the bird much farther
from me than it really was; for after some trouble caused by these
fictitious notes, I perceived it near to me and soon shot it" (Audubon,
1841). Dr. Bachman took five specimens; then, up to the spring of 1884,
Swainson's warbler remained almost a lost species, for according to
Brewster (1885a) there is no record of more than eight or nine birds
being collected. Wayne, through collections and field work near
Charleston, opened a productive 25-year period in the history of
_swainsonii_, in which many valuable contributions were made by various
observers. From 1910 to 1930 the name _swainsonii_ was practically
absent from the pages of current ornithological literature.

Brewster (1885a) has given us the best description of the bird's haunts
in the low country:

The particular kind of swamp to which he is most partial is known in
local parlance as a "pine-land gall." It is usually a depression in the
otherwise level surface, down which winds a brook, in places flowing
swiftly between well-defined banks, in others divided into several
sluggish channels or spreading about in stagnant pools, margined by a
dense growth of cane, and covered with lily leaves or other aquatic
vegetation. Its course through the open pine-lands is sharply marked by
a belt of hardwood trees nourished to grand proportions by the rich soil
and abundant moisture. Beneath, crumbling logs cumber the ground, while
an undergrowth of dogwood (_Cornus florida_), sassafras, viburnum, etc.,
is interlaced and made well-nigh impenetrable by a network of grapevines
and greenbriar. These belts--river bottoms they are in miniature--rarely
exceed a few rods in width; they may extend miles in a nearly straight

The writer has had a long acquaintance with Swainson's warbler in the
low country of Carolina. Except during September (fall migration) the
birds were almost never seen out of sight of substantial growths of
cane, even when the nests were built in bushes, low trees, or vines.
This has been the experience of practically all observers and, as Brooks
and Legg (1942) remark, "an idée fixe among ornithologists" existed; the
familiar description of habitat by Brewster (1885a) became a dictum:
"Briefly, four things seem indispensible to his existence, viz., water,
tangled thickets, patches of cane, and a rank growth of semi-aquatic

Hence, the ornithological world received a surprise to learn that
_swainsonii_ was a summer resident and breeder in different localities
of high altitude in the Appalachian Chain. Although several observers
have found the bird nesting beyond the limits of the Coastal Plain, even
in Piedmont territory, as La Prade (1922) did at 1,050 feet above sea
level, it was E. A. Williams (1935) who first detected it in a truly
mountainous terrain. During two successive summers he found birds near
Tryon, N. C., "in open woods."

Loomis (1887) was quite prophetic when, in recording a Swainson's
warbler from Chester, S. C., "in the heart of the Piedmont Region, one
hundred and fifty miles from the coast," he wrote: "It awakens the mind
to the possibility of an Up-Country habitat, yet awaiting discovery,
where the true centre of abundance will finally be located."

The efforts of Brooks and Legg (1942) have shown Swainson's warbler to
be a locally common summer resident in south-central West Virginia up to
an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level; no positive evidence of
breeding has been found, but it undoubtedly does breed. In Tennessee,
Wetmore (1939) has found the bird in mountainous country at 3,000 feet.

The question naturally arises, Did Swainson's warbler always inhabit
higher altitudes, or is this a recent extension of range and partial
change of habitat? The answer will probably never be found; but study of
changing conditions in its low country habitat for the past several
decades may throw light on this interesting problem. Within the writer's
experience the canebrake areas have long been exposed to forest fires,
timber cutting, overgrazing, drainage, and the construction of a
hydroelectric project, as a result of which thousands of acres of
timbered swampland are now under water.

_Spring._--The birds that winter in Jamaica enter the United States
through Florida, but it is probable that those from Yucatán make a
direct flight across the Gulf to the delta of the Mississippi. The
earliest recorded spring arrival in the United States was on March 22,
1890, on the lower Suwanee River. The same year the species was taken at
the Tortugas, March 25 to April 5 (Chapman, 1907). The earliest arrival
near New Orleans, was March 30, 1905 (Kopman, 1915). Meanley (MS.)
records it from central Georgia on March 31, 1944. Swainson's warbler
reaches the vicinity of Charleston, S. C, during the first week of
April, the earliest being the fifth of that month.

_Nesting._--Nests are built in bushes, canes, masses of vines, and
briers; 10 feet seems to be the maximum height from the ground, while
some nests have been found as low as 2 feet. The average elevation would
be around 3 feet. As many nests are built over dry ground as over water.
The nest is quite bulky and loosely constructed; a typical one in situ
looks like a bunch of leaves lodged in a bush or cane, as the stems
point upward. The outer walls of the nest are composed of various leaves
such as oak, gum, maple, tupelo, and cane; the inner walls are usually
of cane, while the lining is of pine needles, black fiber of moss
_Tillandsia_, cypress leaves, rootlets, or grass stems. Sometimes
horsehair is also present.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: A few more notes on the nesting of Swainson's warbler
may well be added to the above general statements. Brewster's (1885b)
nests, taken by Wayne in the low country of South Carolina, are
evidently typical for that region. All four of these nests were in
canes. Wayne (1886) says that the nests "are generally built in canes,"
but he has also found them "in small bushes, and in one instance in a
climbing vine, by the side of a large public road." Brewster (1885b)
gives the measurements of two of his nests; the smallest of the four

externally 3.50 in diameter by 3.00 in depth; internally 1.50 in
diameter by 1.50 in depth; the greatest thickness of the rim or outer
wall being 1.00. * * * The nest June 27 is very much larger, in fact
quite the largest specimen that I have seen, measuring externally 5.00
in diameter by 6.00 in depth; internally 1.50 in diameter by 1.25 in
depth; with the rim in places 1.75 thick. It is shaped like an inverted
cone, the apex extending down nearly to the point of junction of the
numerous fascicled stems which surround and support its sides. Its total
bulk fully equals the average nest of our Crow Blackbird, while it is
not nearly as finished a specimen of bird architecture. Indeed it would
be difficult to imagine anything ruder than its outer walls,--composed
of mud-soaked leaves of the sweet gum, water oak, holly, and cane,
thrown together into a loose mass, bristling with rough stems, and
wholly devoid of symmetry or regularity of outline. The interior,
however, lined with pine needles, moss fibre, black rootlets, and a
little horse-hair, is not less smooth and rounded than in the other

Troup D. Perry (1887), with his friend George Noble, found no less than
24 nests near Savannah, Ga., in 1887; some of these were in gall or
myrtle bushes and one was in a saw palmetto 2-1/2 feet high. S. A.
Grimes has sent us a photograph of a nest on the broad leaf of a saw
palmetto (pl. 7). Albert J. Kirn (1918) says of the nesting sites of
Swainson's warbler in Oklahoma: "A well shaded clump of trees in the
woods, such a place as would suggest itself for a Wood Thrush, yet not
exactly so, with considerable 'buck brush' undergrowth, but no grass or
weeds is selected for a nesting site. In the top of this 'buck brush'
usually about two feet high the nest is built; about half of the nests
found were close to the river bank--the Little Caney River. All but two
were built in the brushy undergrowth. These two were fastened to briers
and slender brush and were higher up, 3.5 and 4 feet."

F. M. Jones wrote to Brooks and Legg (1942) of a nest found in
southwestern Virginia: "This nest was in a very dense growth of
rhododendron bushes close to a stream of water where the sunlight never
penetrated. It was 5 ft. 6 in. up, built in the forks of a slender beech
limb which grew across the top of a rhododendron bush (_R. maximum_) and
partly supported by the top of the rhododendron. * * * The outside of
the nest measured 7 in. wide by 5 in. deep and the inside 2 in. wide by
1-13/16 in. deep."

It is evident, from the above and other similar accounts that, at higher
elevations northward and westward, Swainson's warbler nests in bushes
and vines where there are no canes to be found.]

_Eggs._--Swainson's warbler usually lays three eggs; sets of four are
rare and of five very rare. Although there are records of nests
containing two incubated eggs or two young birds, these probably
represent incomplete sets or cases where an egg or a nestling has been

Eggs are quite globular, the two ends sometimes scarcely
distinguishable; the shell is thick and has a distinct polish; the
ground color is white with a bluish tinge; however, a set of three eggs
in the writer's collection had a faint greenish tinge, while several
observers describe sets of pale pink or buffy white.

Rarely, spotted eggs are found. Wayne (1910) says: "Spotted eggs are,
however, very rare and I have found only four or five nests containing
them." The only spotted egg the writer has found is in the set referred
to above; of these, two are immaculate, while the third is "faintly
though distinctly speckled around the larger end with reddish brown"
(Dingle, 1926).

Brewster (1885b) describes a set collected by the late Arthur T. Wayne:
"One is perfectly plain; another * * * has two or three minute specks
which may be genuine shell markings; while the third is unmistakably
spotted and blotched with pale lilac. Over most of the surface these
markings are fine, faint, and sparsely distributed, but about the larger
end they become coarser, thicker, and deeper colored, forming a
well-defined ring or wreath."

Burleigh (1923) writes: "Unlike all the descriptions I had read, and the
few eggs I had seen, these were light pink in ground color and dotted
distinctly over the entire surface with light brown spots, this almost
forming a wreath at the larger end of one egg." These eggs were found
near Augusta, Ga., and the parent was secured.

Wayne (1910) was of the opinion that two broods are raised in a season.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The measurements of 50 eggs average 19.5 by 15.0
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =21.6= by 14.2,
20.8 by =16.0=, =18.0= by 14.1, and 19.5 by =13.5= millimeters

_Plumages._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ridgway (1902) describes the juvenal
plumage of Swainson's warbler as follows: "Head, neck, back, rump, upper
tail-coverts, chest, sides, and flanks plain brown (varying from
broccoli to bister); rest of under parts whitish or dull pale yellowish,
more or less clouded with brown; middle and greater wing-coverts
indistinctly tipped with cinnamon-brown; otherwise like adults, but no
trace of lighter superciliary nor darker postocular stripes." Specimens
that I have seen in this plumage are more nearly "cinnamon-brown" than
the colors named above on the back and wing coverts, and the latter show
very little evidence of cinnamon tips.]

The postjuvenal molt, which evidently includes only the contour plumage
and the wing coverts, occurs early in the summer; I have seen young
birds beginning to acquire the first winter plumage as early as June 12,
and others that had nearly completed the molt on July 20; these birds
were not yet fully grown. Wayne (1910) writes: "I have taken young birds
which were as large as the adults and which were acquiring their
autumnal plumage as early as June 2, but it must be borne in mind that
the season in which these young were taken (1906) was exceptionally

Brewster (1885a) describes the young bird in its fall plumage as
follows: "Entire upper parts rich olive strongly tinged with
reddish-brown, the crown scarcely deeper-colored than the back, the
wings a trifle redder; loral stripe blackish; superciliary stripe tinged
with yellow; under parts strongly yellowish, otherwise like the adult."

The nuptial plumage is apparently assumed by wear and fading, the
reddish-brown and yellowish colors becoming much duller. There are no
specimens available of either young or adult birds that indicate a
prenuptial molt.

The postnuptial molt seems to occur mainly in August, but perhaps
earlier, and is evidently complete; I have seen birds in full, fresh
autumn plumage as early as August 28. This fresh plumage is similar to
the spring plumage, but the crown and back are nearly uniform brown, the
crown is darker than in spring, the back is browner than in spring, and
the breast and flanks are more or less clouded with grayish.

_Food._--Howell (1924) says that "four stomachs of this bird from
Alabama contained remains of caterpillars, spiders, and Hymenoptera
(ants, bees, etc.)."

Brewster (1885a) considered the principal food to be small coleopterous
insects, "as well as some small green worms that are found on water
plants, such as the pond lily (_Nymphaea odorata_) and the Nelumbium
(_Cyamus flavicomus_).

_Behavior._--Swainson's warbler is an unsuspicious bird and can be
easily observed in its haunts where the vegetation is not too dense and
tangled and the tree canopy overhead partially open. The neutral color
of the bird is often apt to conceal him in the shadowy undergrowth.
Singing males usually remain on the same perch during their periods of
song, apparently disinclined to move. He often sings from the ground
during insect hunting; Meanley (MS.) says: "It was so wrapped up in its
song as to be absolutely unconcerned; it sang at my very feet with its
head thrown back, its beak pointing perpendicularly toward the sky,
pouring forth its resounding melody in the best of warbler fashion."

The female is a close sitter, and the observer has usually to touch her
before she leaves the nest. Grimes (1936) writes: "This bird would not
leave her eggs until _pushed_ off, and when I held my hand over the nest
she straddled my fingers in trying to get back onto it. * * * When I did
drive her away from the nest she fluttered along on the ground in the
manner of a crippled bird, her actions manifestly intended to induce me
to follow. This bird certainly was not badly frightened, for within a
few minutes she was back on her nest, accepting deerflies from my
fingers and swallowing them with apparent relish."

Brewster (1885a) gives an admirable portrayal:

His gait is distinctly a walk, his motions gliding and graceful. Upon
alighting in the branches, after being flushed from the ground, he
assumes a statuesque attitude, like that of a startled Thrush. While
singing he takes an easier posture, but rarely moves on his perch. If
desirous of changing his position he flies from branch to branch instead
of hopping through the twigs in the manner of most Warblers. Under the
influence of excitement or jealousy he sometimes jets his tail, droops
his wings, and raises the feathers of the crown in a loose crest, but
the tail is never jerked like that of a _Geothlypis_, or wagged like
that of a _Siurus_. On the contrary, his movements are all deliberate
and composed, his disposition sedentary and phlegmatic.

_Voice._--The bird student who hears the song of Swainson's warbler as
he sings in his wooded retreat is fortunate, for it is one of the
outstanding warbler songs and, once heard, leaves a lasting impression
upon the listener. At a distance it bears much resemblance to the songs
of the hooded warbler and the Louisiana water-thrush. Close up, however,
the appealing quality, lacking in the other two, impresses the listener
strongly. The song has, in the majority of individuals, a highly
ventriloquial effect, but the writer has listened to birds whose notes
did not in the slightest degree possess this quality.

The song varies in length and number of notes but can be separated into
two distinct parts; the first few notes are uttered rather slowly, the
last ones more rapidly and on a descending scale. The second part
closely follows the first, with no apparent separation. Brooks and
Legg (1942) write: "It might be translated as _whee, whee, whee,
whip-poor-will_, the first two (or three) introductory notes on an even
pitch, the last _whee_ a half-tone lower, and the slurred phrase with
_will_ separated into two syllables, and accented on the _whip_ and on
the _wi_-part of the _will_. The last phrase sounded at times remarkably
like one of the songs of the White-eyed Vireo."

When the singer begins his performance, the bill is pointed directly up,
and he seems entirely unconscious of anything but his own musical
efforts. "During his intervals of silence," says N. C. Brown (1878), "he
remains motionless, with plumage ruffled, as if completely lost in
musical reverie." Brewster (1885a) adds:

It is very loud, very rich, very beautiful, while it has an
indescribably tender quality that thrills the senses after the sound has
ceased. * * * Although a rarely fervent and ecstatic songster, our
little friend is also a fitful and uncertain one. You may wait for hours
near his retreat, even in early morning, or late afternoon, without
hearing a note. But when the inspiration comes he floods the woods with
music, one song often following another so quickly that there is scarce
a pause for breath between. In this manner I have known him to sing for
fully twenty minutes, although ordinarily the entire performance
occupies less than half that time. Such outbursts may occur at almost
any hour, even at noontide, and I have heard them in the gloomiest
weather, when the woods were shrouded in mist and rain.

Several times the writer has seen males when the inspiration had not
quite come to them; the bird would throw back its head but utter only
one or two opening notes of his song.

The call note is a chip, which Brewster calls "a soft _tchip_
indistinguishable from that of _Parula americana_." But Murray (1935)
writes that it is "more throaty and full-bodied than that of most
Warblers." Brooks and Legg (1942) describe it as "clear, penetrating
chirps, having (to our ears) much the same quality as do the chirps of
the Mourning Warbler. They are not quite so loud, but have a more
ringing quality than those of the Hooded Warbler."

_Field marks._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Swainson's warbler is a plainly colored
bird, with no conspicuous field marks. It is brownish olive above and
whitish below, with no white in either wings or tail; there is a whitish
line over the eye and a dusky streak through it; but the bill is long
and sharply pointed.]


_Range._--Southeastern United States to southern Mexico.

_Breeding range._--Until about 1935 Swainson's warbler was considered to
be confined in summer to the southern canebrakes and coastal marshes. It
is now known to breed =north= to extreme southern Illinois, probably
(seen in breeding season to Olive Branch, Duquoin, and Mount Carmel);
southeastern Kentucky (Big Black Mountain); central to northern West
Virginia (Charleston, Mount Lookout, Sutton, and Buzzard Rocks,
Monongalia County); and southeastern Maryland (Pocomoke River Swamp).
=East= to eastern Maryland (Pocomoke River Swamp); eastern Virginia
(Warwick County and Dismal Swamp); eastern North Carolina (New Bern,
Lake Ellis, and Red Springs); eastern South Carolina (Summerton,
Charleston, and Yemassee); eastern Georgia (Savannah and Okefinokee
Swamp); and northeastern Florida (Jacksonville). =South= to northern
Florida (Jacksonville, Oldtown, Whitfield, and Pensacola) and southern
Louisiana (Mandeville, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge). =West= to eastern
Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Bayou Sara, and Jena); central Arkansas (Camden
and Conway); extreme northeastern Oklahoma (Copan); and central Missouri

Within this large breeding area are two almost discontinuous breeding
ranges: the coastal and swamp range long considered the only home of the
species; and the more recently discovered mountain home along the slopes
of the Allegheny Mountains from northern West Virginia nearly to the
Georgia line where it has been found to an altitude of nearly 3,000

_Winter range._--The winter home of the Swainson's warbler is very
imperfectly known from a dozen or more specimens, most of which are from
Jamaica where it has been listed as a rare winter resident. There are
records also from the Swan Islands (March 1); Santa Lucia, Quintana Roo;
Pacaytain, Campeche; and the city of Veracruz. Two specimens have been
taken near Habana, Cuba; one on September 25, the other in April; and
one near Guantánamo on January 18, 1914.

_Migration._--Dates of spring departure are: Jamaica, April 8.
Cuba--Habana, April 14.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--St. Petersburg, March 25.
Alabama--Autaugaville, April 3. Georgia--Savannah, March 25.
South Carolina, April 1. Louisiana--New Orleans, March 30.
Mississippi--Biloxi, March 31. Tennessee--Memphis, April 20.
Texas--Point Bolivar, April 17.

Late dates of fall departure are: Texas--Kemah, September 27.
Tennessee--Sulphur Springs, September 9. Mississippi--Gulfport, October
6. South Carolina--Charleston, October 10. Georgia--Savannah, October
18. Alabama--Greensboro, September 6. Florida--Pensacola, October 2;
Sombrero Key (4 struck lighthouse November 10).

Dates of fall arrival are: Tamaulipas--Matamoros, August 29. Jamaica,
October 1.

_Casual records._--A specimen was recorded near Corsicana, Tex., on
August 24, 1880; another was collected at Kearney, Nebr., on April 9,
1905; and one near Holly, Prowers County, Colo., on May 12, 1913.

_Egg dates._--Florida: 3 records, May 7. Georgia: 35 records, May 4 to
July 13; 19 records, May 29 to June 17, indicating the height of the
season. South Carolina: 28 records, May 2 to June 30; 14 records. May 12
to June 12 (Harris).





The breeding range of the worm-eating warbler covers much of the central
portion of the United States east of the prairie regions. Its center of
abundance seems to be in the vicinity of Pennsylvania, but it breeds
less abundantly northward to southern Iowa, New York, and New England
and southward to Missouri and to northern Alabama and Georgia, as well
as in much of the intervening wooded region, where it is essentially a
woodland bird.

The distribution, migration, and habits of this warbler were but poorly
understood by the early writers on American birds, and neither Wilson
nor Audubon ever saw its nest; the latter's description of the nest,
probably from hearsay, is entirely wrong. Frank L. Burns writes to me:
"Bartram neglected to list this species, although he had furnished the
type to Edwards 35 years earlier, and from the information furnished by
the youthful Bartram it doubtless received its name, which is a misnomer
perpetuated by Gmelin in his _Motacilla vermivora."_ Mr. Burns says
further on in his notes: "I searched for 10 seasons before I found my
first nest, and oddly enough it was through the parent bird carrying a
'worm' to its young; nevertheless I have since thought that a more
fitting name for the species would have been hillside or laurel

Hillside warbler would not be a bad name for this bird, which shows a
decided preference for wooded hillsides covered with medium-sized
deciduous trees and an undergrowth of saplings and small shrubbery.
Often a running stream with numerous swampy places, overgrown with brier
tangles and alders, bounds the base of the hill as an additional
attraction. It is seldom seen outside of its favorite woods and returns
year after year to the same chosen haunts.

W. E. Clyde Todd (1940) says that in western Pennsylvania "wooded slopes
are its chosen abodes, the shadier and cooler the better. * * * Deep
ravines, down which trickle little streams, and the slopes of which
support good stands of deciduous trees, with plenty of shrubbery and
bushes for cover, are favorite resorts." In Ritchie County, W. Va.,
William Brewster (1875) found it "most partial to the retired thickets
in the woods along water courses, and seldom or never found in the high
open groves."

_Spring._--The northward movement of the worm-eating warbler evidently
begins in March, as the earliest arrivals from the Bahamas, the West
Indies, and Cuba reach southern Florida during the first week in April.
From its main winter resorts in Central America the flight seems to be
partially across the Gulf of Mexico. Professor Cooke (1904) says in
part: "The time of arrival on the coasts of Louisiana and Texas is about
the same as in southern Florida. * * * Houston is the southernmost point
in Texas from which it has been recorded to date, and Alta Mira is the
northernmost point of record in Mexico. Since the species is apparently
not common west of Louisiana or north of Vera Cruz, it is probable that
the principal line of migration is from Yucatan and the coast
immediately west of Yucatan directly north to the northern coast of the
Gulf of Mexico." According to Williams (1945) the species is common on
the coast of Texas in spring, and it probably migrates along the coast.
Thence the migration proceeds northward through the Mississippi Valley
and through the Atlantic Coast States east of the Alleghenies, the
warblers reaching the more northern breeding grounds by the middle of
May, where nesting activities begin as soon as mates have been selected.

_Nesting._--Evidently Thomas H. Jackson, of West Chester, Pa., was the
first to report the discovery of the nest of the worm-eating warbler; he
published an account of it in the American Naturalist for December 1869,
from which Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) quote as follows: "On the
6th of June, 1869, I found a nest of this species containing five eggs.
It was placed in a hollow on the ground, much like the nests of the
Oven-Bird (_Seiurus aurocapillus_), and was well hidden from sight by
the dry leaves that lay thickly around. The nest was composed externally
of dead leaves, mostly those of the beech, while the interior was
prettily lined with the fine, thread-like stalks of the hair-moss
(_Polytrichium_). * * * So close did the female sit that I captured her
without difficulty by placing my hat over the nest."

This nest was quite characteristic of the species. Mr. Burns writes to
me: "The nest, well hidden under a drift of dead forest leaves, never
varied in composition in over a hundred examples examined by me, in
partly skeletonized leaves and the characteristic reddish-brown lining
of the flower stem of the hair moss." Every one of 50 nests found by Mr.
Jackson was lined with these flower stems, and out of 34 nests reported
by Dr. Samuel S. Dickey (1934) only one failed to contain this material,
being lined with "black and gray horsehair." Samuel B. Ladd (1887) says
that "sometimes fine grass and horse-hair are used as part of the
lining." Dr. Chapman (1907) writes: "Nests taken by J. N. Clark at
Saybrook, Connecticut (C. W. C.) are composed of decayed leaves and
lined with stems of maple seeds." And there are probably a few other
exceptions to the rule.

Most observers agree that the worm-eating warbler prefers to nest on
hillsides, either sloping or steep, but a number of nests have been
found on the sides of deep, shady ravines, or on steep banks. Mr. Ladd
(1887), however, states: "I have observed that these birds are not
confined necessarily to hill-sides, as was heretofore supposed, as I
have taken three sets on level ground and in rather open places, with
little shade. The experience of Mr. Thomas H. Jackson of this place,
who has taken ten nests this year, corroborates this fact."

The nests are generally well concealed under a canopy of dead leaves,
drifted by the wind and lodged against a maple, beech, dogwood, or ash
sapling, or under hydrangea, laurel, or rhododendron bushes, or under
some bunch of weeds or other obstruction. They are sometimes concealed
under the roots of a tree or in a cavity in a bank where they are
protected somewhat by fallen leaves.

_Eggs._--The number of eggs laid by the worm-eating warbler varies from
3 to 6, but the set usually consists of 4 or 5. The eggs are ovate or
short ovate, sometimes rather pointed, and only slightly glossy. The
white ground color is speckled and spotted with shades of "russet,"
"vinaceous russet," and "auburn," intermingled with "light brownish
drab" and "light vinaceous-drab." The markings, usually more thickly
grouped at the large end, vary considerably, some eggs being boldly
marked, while others are almost immaculate, or have just a few pale
freckles of "light brownish drab" and "fawn." The measurements of 50
eggs average 17.4 by 13.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =20.8= by =14.5=, and =15.5= by =12.7= millimeters

_Incubation._--Frank L. Burns (1905) writes:

Incubation does not always commence immediately after completion of set,
particularly if the season be young. It is probable that the second
night witnesses the beginning of that period and, as far as my
experience goes, I believe it is performed by the female alone. The male
feeds her when covering newly hatched young.

The home-coming of a brooding bird, after a brief airing and feeding, is
heralded several hundred yards distant by frequent _chips_ and short
flights from branch to branch near the ground, in leisurely fashion and
circuitous route, until at length, arriving above the nest, she runs
down a sapling and is silent. The bird is a close sitter and if
approached from the open front will often allow a few minutes' silent
inspection, eye to eye, at arm's length, sometimes not vacating until
touched, then she runs off in a sinuous trail, not always feigning
lameness before the young are out. When disturbed with young in the nest
she will flutter off with open wings and tail, and, failing to lead one
off, will return with her mate, who is seldom far off at this period,
circling about the nest or intruder, and, if the young are well
feathered, she will dash at them, forcing them from the nest and to
shelter. Once this brave little bird dashed at me and ran up to my
knee, scratching with her sharp little claws at every step. On the
return the birds always make the vicinity ring with their protests--a
quickly repeated _chip_. The period of incubation in one instance was
thirteen days.

_Young._--Mr. Burns continues:

Young fear man soon after their eyes are open, and a menacing finger
will cause them to scamper out and away, repeated replacing in the nest
proving of no avail after they became panic-stricken. At three days of
age they made no outcry but opened their mouths for food, which
consisted of a species of white moth, or "miller," and soft white grubs,
supplied by either of the parent birds. At that period they were naked
except a fluff on head and wing quills, just showing feathers at tips.
In the presence of an intruder and absence of the parents, they will sit
motionless if not threatened, and, but for the blinking, beady eyes, one
might mistake them when well fledged, at very close range, for dead
leaves. The head stripes became visible under the nestling down on the
seventh day, and they left the nest ten days after leaving the shell, in
the one case I have kept record of. The parents keep the young together
for several days at least, just how long is impossible to say. One brood
is all that is reared in a season, I think.

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down "brownish
mouse-gray," and describes the juvenal plumage as follows: "Whole body
plumage and the wing coverts cinnamon, palest on the abdomen. Wings and
tail olive-brown edged with olive-green. Two indistinct lateral crown
stripes brownish mouse-gray. A transocular streak dusky." Ridgway's
(1902) description is somewhat different: "Head, neck, and under parts
buff, the pileum with two broad, but strongly contrasted, lateral
stripes of wood brown or isabella color; a postocular streak of the same
color; back, scapulars, rump, and upper tail-coverts wood brown or
isabella color; wing-coverts light buffy olive, the middle and greater
broadly but not sharply tipped with cinnamon-buff; remiges and rectrices
grayish olive-green, as in adults." Young birds seem to vary
considerably in the color of the upper parts.

A partial postjuvenal molt occurring in late June or early July involves
all the contour plumage and the wing coverts but not the rest of the
wings or the tail. The young bird in its first winter plumage is
practically indistinguishable from the adult at that season, except for
the juvenal wings, in which the tertials are lightly tipped with rusty

There is apparently no spring molt, but a complete postnuptial molt
occurs in July. Spring birds are slightly paler, grayer and less buffy
than in the fall. The sexes are practically alike in all plumages.

_Food._--As I have said, the name worm-eating warbler seems to be
somewhat of a misnomer for this bird. Edward H. Forbush (1929) writes:
"I find no records of any consumption of earthworms by this species,
which although a typical ground warbler spends some of its time hunting
among the branches of trees, where it finds span-worms. It also hunts on
the ground in damp places frequented by army-worms. Nevertheless these
are not worms but caterpillars. Probably, however, in its perambulations
and peregrinations upon the surface of the earth the bird now and then
does pick up a small earthworm, for earthworms form a staple food for
many birds when the ground is moist."

Arthur H. Howell (1924) says: "Little is known of the food of this
species, but it seems doubtful whether it lives up to its name of
worm-eater.' Two stomachs of this bird from Alabama contained remains of
weevils, beetles, bugs, caterpillars, and Hymenoptera." Howell (1932)
further reports: "The stomachs of three individuals taken in Florida in
April contained small grasshoppers, caterpillars, sawfly larvae,
beetles, and spiders. One dragon-fly, one bumblebee, and one 'walking
stick' were also included in the contents." Professor Aughey (1878)
included the worm-eating warbler among the birds seen catching locusts
in Nebraska.

_Behavior._--Brewster (1875) gives the best account of the activities of
the worm-eating warbler as follows:

They keep much on the ground, where they _walk_ about rather slowly,
searching for their food among the dried leaves. In general appearance
they are quite unique, and I rarely failed to identify one with an
instant's glance, so very peculiar are all their attitudes and motions.
The tail is habitually carried at an elevation considerably above the
line of the back, which gives them a smart, jaunty air, and if the
dorsal aspect be exposed, in a clear light, the peculiar marking of the
crown is quite conspicuous. Seen as they usually are, however, dimly
flitting ahead through the gloom and shadow of the thickets, the
impression received is that of a dark little bird which vanishes
unaccountably before your very eyes, leaving you quite uncertain where
to look for it next; indeed, I hardly know a more difficult bird to
procure, for the slightest noise sends it darting off through the woods
at once. Occasionally you will come upon one winding around the trunk of
some small tree exactly in the manner of _Mniotilta varia_, moving out
along the branches with nimble motion, peering alternately under the
bark on either side, and anon returning to the main stem, perhaps in the
next instant to hop back to the ground again. On such occasions they
rarely ascend to the height of more than eight or ten feet. The males
are very quarrelsome, chasing one another through the woods with loud,
sharp chirpings, careering with almost inconceivable velocity up among
the tops of the highest oaks, or darting among the thickets with
interminable doublings until the pursuer, growing tired of the chase,
alights on some low twig or old mossy log, and in token of his victory,
utters a warble so feeble that you must be very near to catch it at all,
a sound like that produced by striking two pebbles very quickly and
gently together, or the song of _Spizella socialis_ heard at a distance,
and altogether a very indifferent performance.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders has contributed the following study of the
song of this warbler:

The song of the worm-eating warbler is a simple trill, varying from
1-2/5 to 2-1/5 seconds in length. It is usually all on the same pitch,
but a few songs rise or fall a half tone, and one record I have rises a
full tone and then drops a half tone at the end. The quality is not
musical, but rather closely resembles some forms of the chipping
sparrow's song. The pitch varies from G sharp´´´ to F sharp´´´´, one
tone less than an octave.

The majority of songs are a continuous trill, that is, the notes are too
fast to be separated and counted by ear. I have three examples that are
broken into short, very rapid notes. Two of these were of 18 notes and
one was of 28. Most of the songs vary in loudness, becoming loudest in
the middle, or beginning loud and fading away toward the end. One record
becomes louder toward the end and ends abruptly.

Francis H. Allen describes in his notes a song "remarkably like that of
the chipping sparrow, but more rapid than is usual with that species, I
think, and perhaps shorter, though not so short as the chippy's
early-morning song. The bill quivers with the song, but does not close
between the _chips_. The bird sang constantly as it flitted about,
usually 10 or 20 feet from the ground, seeming to prefer dead branches
and twigs."

Almost everyone emphasizes the resemblance of the song to that of the
chipping sparrow. Burns (1905) says: "I can distinguish no difference
between the notes of this species and the Chipping Sparrow; the first
may be a trifle weaker perhaps." But, in some notes recently sent to me,
he writes: "The song has often been described as easily mistaken for
that of either the chipping sparrow or slate-colored junco, but by no
means by an expert. The notes of the worm-eater have a buzzing or
bubbling quality not easily described, but are quite distinct from the
flat notes of the species named above." And Eugene P. Bicknell (1884)
writes: "The songs of no other three birds known to me are more alike
than those of the Worm-eating Warbler, the Chipping Sparrow, and the
Slate-colored Snowbird." He is in agreement with Saunders and Burns that
this bird sings from the time of its arrival until the last of June or
early July, but he also says: "On July 10, 1881, several of these birds
were silently inhabiting a small tract of woodland, their first season
of song having passed; here, on August 14, and again on the 21st, they
were found in fine plumage and in full song." Evidently there is a
cessation of singing during the molting period.

Burns (1905) says of the song: "The series of notes may be uttered while
perched, or creeping about the lower branches of the trees, sapling
tops, bushes or fallen brush, or while on the ground. With slightly
drooping tail and wings, puffing out of body plumage, throwing its head
back until the beak is perpendicular, it trills with swelling throat an
unvarying _Che-e-e-e-e-e-e_, which does not sound half so monotonous in
the woods as does the Chippy's lay in the open."

Dr. Chapman (1907) adds: "Mr. W. DeW. Miller of Plainfield, New Jersey,
tells me that he has on two occasions heard a flight song from this
species. It is described by him as much more varied and musical than the
ordinary song, though lacking in strength. It was given as the bird flew
through the woods at an even level, not rising above the tree-tops, as
does the Oven-bird and other flight singers."

_Field marks._--When seen walking around on the ground the worm-eating
warbler might be mistaken for an ovenbird, but the conspicuous black
stripes on the head of the former are quite distinctive, very different
from the head markings of the latter. Moreover, the ovenbird is
distinctly spotted on the breast, whereas the warbler has a plain,
unmarked breast and no conspicuous wing bars. Except for the bold
stripes on the head it is just a plain olive and buffy warbler in all

_Enemies._--Says Burns (1905): "This Warbler's enemies are wood-mice,
red squirrels and hunting dogs; the latter will sometimes push up and
overturn the nest; an occasional weasel or blacksnake may destroy a few
young. The percentage of loss while in the nest cannot be high."

Friedmann (1929) regards the worm-eating warbler as a "rather uncommonly
imposed upon species" by the eastern cowbird. "Twenty-one definite
records, and as many more indefinite ones have come to my notice."

_Winter._--Dr. Alexander F. Skutch contributes the following: "Widely
distributed as a winter resident in Central America, the worm-eating
warbler appears to be everywhere very rare. It occurs from Guatemala to
Panamá on both coasts, and upward in the mountains to at least 5,000
feet. On February 26, 1935, I found one in the forest on Barro Colorado
Island, Canal Zone, which appears to represent a slight southward
extension of the known range. I have recorded this rare visitant from
every part of Central America below 6,000 feet in which I have made an
extended sojourn during the months of the northern winter, yet only one
or two in each locality, except on the Finca Mocá on the Pacific slope
of Guatemala at 3,000 feet above sea-level, where in one day--January
21, 1935--I saw three. The worm-eating warbler is found in the Tropics
beneath dense thickets or in the undergrowth of the forest, usually near
the ground; but at times one will rise to the lower branches of the
trees to investigate curled dead leaves caught up among them. It is
solitary rather than social in its habits.

"The records of the occurrence of this warbler in Central America are
too few to indicate clearly the dates of its arrival and departure. I
found one at Tela, Honduras, on August 19, 1930; but the next early
record is for October 14, at the same locality. Griscom quotes a record
by Dearborn for the occurrence of this warbler at Patulul, Guatemala, on
April 2; but except for this, the latest record I have seen is from El
General, Costa Rica, March 11, 1939."


_Range._--Eastern United States to Panamá.

_Breeding range._--The worm-eating warbler breeds =north= to
northeastern Kansas (Lawrence); possibly central southern Nebraska (Red
Cloud); probably south-central Iowa (Des Moines); probably southern
Wisconsin (Wyalusing, Madison, and Milwaukee); northeastern Illinois
(Hinsdale); southern Indiana (Terre Haute, Bloomington, and
Indianapolis); central Ohio (Columbus, East Liverpool, and possibly
Cleveland); southern New York (Penn Yan and Albany), and southern
Connecticut (New Haven and Saybrook). It has been found in summer north
to London, Ontario; Northampton, Ipswich, and North Eastham,
Massachusetts. =East= to Connecticut (Saybrook); Long Island (Newtown);
northern New Jersey (Elizabeth and Morristown); eastern Pennsylvania
(Norristown and Philadelphia); northern Delaware (Wilmington); central
Maryland (Baltimore; rarely east of Chesapeake Bay); eastern Virginia
(Cobham and Dismal Swamp); central North Carolina (Chapel Hill and
Statesville); northwestern South Carolina (Caesars Head, Mount Pinnacle,
and Sassafras Mountain); and northern Georgia (Brasstown Bald and
Atlanta). =South= to northern Georgia (Atlanta); central Tennessee
(Nashville and Wildersville); northern Arkansas (Newport and Winslow);
and, occasionally, extreme northern Texas (Bowie County and
Gainesville). =West= to northern Texas (Gainesville); northeastern
Oklahoma (Jay); and eastern Kansas (Lawrence). It has been recorded in
summer, but with no evidence of breeding, at Red Cloud, Nebr., and at
London and Vineland Station, Ontario.

_Winter range._--In winter the worm-eating warbler is found =north= to
southern Tamaulipas (Altamira); northern Florida, casually (Blue Springs
and Amelia Island), and the Bahamas (Abaco, Nassau, and Great Inago).
=East= to the Bahamas (Great Inago); Jamaica and central Panamá (Río
Chepo). =South= to Panamá (Río Chepo, Barro Colorado, and Chiriquí).
=West= to western Panamá (Chiriquí); Costa Rica (Escasú and Volcán
Tonorio); El Salvador (Mount Cacaguatique); Guatemala (Dueñas, Patulul,
and Naranjo); southern Chiapas (Huehuetán); western Veracruz (Jalapa);
Hidalgo (Pachuca); and southern Tamaulipas (Altamira).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure are: Panamá--Darién March
16. Costa Rica--El General, March 19. El Salvador--Barra de Santiago,
April 8. Guatemala--Patulul, April 2. Yucatán--Mérida, April 9.
Cuba--Habana, May 1. Bahamas--Abaco, April 29. Florida--Seven Oaks,
May 14. Georgia--Cumberland, May 7. Alabama--Barachias, May 1.
Mississippi--Biloxi, April 27. Louisiana--Avery Island, April 23.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Pensacola, March 26.
Georgia--Savannah, April 4. South Carolina--Mount Pleasant, April 7.
North Carolina--Bat Cave, April 16. Virginia--Richmond, April 19. West
Virginia--Morgantown, April 4. District of Columbia--Washington, April
21. Pennsylvania--Beaver, April 29. New York--Jones Beach, April 20.
Louisiana--Grand Isle, April 3. Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, April 5.
Tennessee--Chattanooga, April 15. Kentucky--Bowling Green, April 3.
Indiana--Brookville, April 17. Ohio--Columbus, April 18.
Texas--Brownsville, March 29. Missouri--St. Louis, April 15.
Iowa--Keokuk, April 21.

Late dates of fall departure are: Missouri--St. Louis, September 20.
Ohio--Austinburg, September 23. Kentucky--Middlesboro, September 27.
Tennessee--Athens, October 5. Mississippi--Biloxi, October 11.
Louisiana--Monroe, September 30. New York--Balston, September 23.
Pennsylvania--Atglen, October 10. District of Columbia--Washington,
September 13. West Virginia--Bluefield, September 19. Virginia--Salem,
October 24. North Carolina--Andrews, October 11; Raleigh, November 3.
South Carolina--Charleston, October 11. Georgia--Atlanta, October 10.
Florida--Fernandina, October 3.

_Casual records._--A specimen was collected in Bermuda on October 4,
1899. An individual was present at Wood Pond near Jackson, Somerset
County, Maine, September 1 to 12, 1935; and one was reported seen at
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, on October 15, 1943, following a small hurricane.

_Egg dates._--Connecticut: 7 records, May 27 to June 29.

New Jersey: 4 records, May 21 to 30.

Pennsylvania: 75 records, May 15 to June 30: 45 records, May 24 to June
5, indicating the height of the season (Harris).




PLATES 10, 11


The golden-winged warbler is one of the daintiest among this group of
gay-colored little birds. Its plumage is immaculate white below and
delicate pearl-gray on the upper parts, the crown and wings sparkle with
golden yellow, and on the throat and cheeks is a broad splash of jet

It is only within comparatively recent years that we have become well
acquainted with the goldenwing: the older ornithologists, Wilson,
Audubon, and Nuttall, knew it only as a rather uncommon migrant,
drifting through from the south, and they had no idea where it bred. At
a much later date J. A. Allen (1870) says of it: "This beautiful warbler
has been taken, so far as I can learn, but few times in the western part
of the State; it seems to be more common in the eastern, where it
breeds." He cites the first record of the finding of a nest in the State
in 1869. There is, however, an earlier record of its nesting. Dr. Brewer
(1874) states: "Dr. Samuel Cabot was the first naturalist to meet with
the nest and eggs of this bird. This was in May, 1837, in Greenbrier
County, Va."

William Brewster (1906), speaking of the bird in 1874, when he first
found it in eastern Massachusetts, says: "If the species inhabited any
part of the Cambridge Region before the year just mentioned, it was
overlooked by several keen and diligent collectors, among whom may be
mentioned Mr. H. W. Henshaw and Mr. Ruthven Deane." Since that time the
bird has increased in numbers here until at present it is common in
suitable localities.

_Spring._--The goldenwing appears in eastern Massachusetts about the
middle of May, or sometimes a little earlier, at the time when many of
the resident warblers are arriving on their breeding-grounds. At this
season the bright green leaves are beginning to open in the thickets and
trees on the borders of woodlands where the goldenwing finds its food;
and under the trees in the wooded swamps where the bird will build its
nest, fresh new growth--skunkcabbage, ferns, and a host of spring
plants--is pushing through the dead leaves, spreading a green carpet on
the forest floor. But even thus early in the year, when the trees are
nearly bare, it is not easy to see as it feeds high up in the trees, far
out near the tips of the branches. Indeed, but for its queer little
song, we should rarely suspect that it had come back to its summer home.

_Nesting._--The golden-winged warbler builds its nest on the ground,
generally raised somewhat by a substratum of dead leaves. The nest is
supported by stalks of herbs--often goldenrod or meadow rue--or by fern
fronds, or it may be hidden deep in a clump of grass, or it may lean
against the base of a small shrub or tree with grass all about it. The
leaves above the nest develop as the season advances and soon completely
conceal it, and the plants, by their growth, may raise the nest a little
above the ground. The cup of the nest is made chiefly of long strands of
dry grass and narrow strips of grapevine bark, with a few hairs in the
lining. This fine, flexible material is pressed down on the inside by
the weight of the incubating bird and the nestlings, becoming smooth and
firm like a mat, whereas on the outside wall the long grass blades and
fibrous vegetable shreds are left free and, protruding loosely in all
directions for some distance from the cup, produce a disorderly, unkempt
appearance, like a little loose handful of fine hay.

Edward H. Forbush (1929) quotes an account of the goldenwing by Horace
O. Green who has had an extensive experience with the species and who
gives the following interesting details of the construction of the nest:

The nest of the Golden-wing usually has a bottom layer of coarse dead
leaves on which is placed a ring of large dry leaves, arranged with the
points of the leaves downward, so that the leaf stems stick up
noticeably around the edges of the nest proper, which is built within
and upon this circular mass of leaves, and is made of rather wide strips
of coarse grass or rushes, and usually has considerable grape vine bark
interwoven in it. The nest lining is coarse and rough, sometimes the
eggs being laid on the rough grape vine bark, and in some nests other
coarse fibers are used. A very characteristic feature of the nest lining
is fine shreds of light reddish-brown vegetable fiber, which at first
glance might easily be mistaken for dry needles from the pitch pine--but
careful examination shows it to be the inner layers of the bark from the
grape vines. The nest is very bulky for the size of the bird and Is
rather loosely put together by crossing the materials diagonally, so
that it slightly resembles a rather coarse basket-work. I never saw a
nest of this species which had a soft lining, such as many other
warblers use--the eggs are apparently always deposited on rough

The general color of the nest is very dark, especially just after a
rain, when the materials of which it is composed look almost black--this
being one thing which helps to distinguish these nests from those of the
Maryland Yellow-throat, which generally builds a much lighter colored
nest, lined with fine grass, and sometimes with horse hair. Another
small point of difference which is noticeable on close examination is
that the lining in the Yellow-throat's nest is usually of a much finer
and lighter colored material, and appears to be woven in horizontally,
or at least to show some traces of such a design, especially around the
upper edge--while the Golden-wing closely adheres to the diagonal
criss-cross pattern with the loose ends of the nesting materials
sticking up at an angle above the rim of the nest cavity.

Mr. Green describes the surroundings of the nest thus:

For their summer home these birds prefer the border of deciduous woods,
where tall trees give plenty of shade, to an adjacent clearing with a
growth of briers, bushes and grass, and the nest is usually placed just
outside the line of the forest proper, but within the shade of the
trees. A meadow wholly surrounded by woods is frequently selected. The
ideal place to search for a nest of the species is in one of those
woodland meadows, which has a clear brook flowing through it, with
briers, tussocks of grass and a fresh growth of goldenrod scattered
around in profusion, with birch trees and wild grape vines growing near
the edges where the meadow meets higher ground--and all this bordered by
tall oak, chestnut and maple trees which furnish an abundance of shade
to the vegetation of the meadow itself.

J. Warren Jacobs (1904) describes the nest much as above and adds: "The
opening is not straight down, but slightly tilted, the jaggy leaf-stems
and bark sometimes reaching two or three inches above the rim of the
nest proper. As incubation advances, the rough rim on the lower edge of
the nest becomes broken down, and by the time the young birds are ready
to leave, this part of their home is worn smooth by the attendant

He gives the measurements of 17 nests as follows: "Outside 3.6 to 5.0
inches in diameter, and 3.0 to 5.0 inches in depth; and on the inside,
from 1.7 to 2.5 inches in diameter by 1.3 to 2.5 inches deep." These
measurements agree very closely with the records of several other
observers. Jacobs continues: "Seemingly before the birds have had time
to complete their nest, the female begins the deposition of the eggs.
Generally, where I had opportunity to watch the nests daily, or at
intervals between the beginning and completion of the set, the eggs were
laid on consecutive days, but in two or three instances it was noticed
that the laying missed a day."

_Eggs._--The set for the golden-winged warbler may consist of anywhere
from 4 to 7 eggs; 5 is perhaps the commonest number, but 4 is a common
number, and the larger numbers are increasingly rare. The eggs are ovate
or short ovate, and have only a slight luster. They are white or creamy
white, with a wide variety of markings in "auburn," "argus brown," "Mars
brown," "hazel," "Hay's brown," "liver brown," and "burnt umber," with
underlying speckles or spots of "light brownish drab" and "light
vinaceous drab." There is, also, much variation in the amount of
markings, some being very sparingly speckled and others are quite
heavily marked, with some of the spots assuming the proportions of
blotches. Occasionally small hairline scrawls, or scattered spots, of
brown so dark as to appear almost black, are found. The markings are
usually denser toward the large end. The measurements of 50 eggs average
16.7 by 13.0 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=18.6= by 13.0, 16.8 by =13.7=, =15.5= by 12.5, and 15.9 by =12.3=
millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--Jacobs (1904) states that the incubation period is 10 days and
that the young birds are able to leave the nest 10 days after hatching.
In a nest which Maunsell S. Crosby (1912) watched closely, the eggs
hatched on June 1 and the young flew on June 10.

The fledglings are delicate little birds, brownish olive on the back,
washed with yellow below, and have two widely separated yellow wing
bars. They have astonishingly long legs and soon become very active,
fluttering about in the shrubbery and clinging to the branches. Walter
Faxon (1911) in speaking of them gives this lively picture which could
well be applied to them soon after leaving the nest: "In appearance and
habit they were grotesque little fellows, clinging with their
disproportionately long legs to the low herbage, like peeping Hylas in
the springtime clinging to the grasses and weeds above the surface of
the water. The little thread-like natal plumes still waving from the
tips of their crown feathers enhanced the oddity of their appearance."
Mr. Faxon, to be exact, is speaking here of some young birds of mixed
parentage, but his words apply equally well to the behavior and
appearance of the young of _chrysoptera_ which he and I watched year
after year together. Both parents are very attentive to their young
brood, bringing to them food which they find both on low plant growth
and high in the overshadowing branches.

The fledglings call to their parents with a very characteristic note, a
little quavering, high, fine chirp which I find written in my journal
_crrr_ and _tzzz_. It suggests somewhat a note of young chipping
sparrows, but is less sharp and crisp. In form it also resembles the
call of the young cowbird, but again it is gentler and weaker in tone.
Mr. Faxon (1911) refers to it as the "cricket note." The young birds
acquire their first winter plumage about a month after they leave the
nest, and hence to the eye are indistinguishable from their parents, but
as they still continue to use the call of their babyhood, they may be
recognized as immature birds even when they are feeding high up in the

_Plumages._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I can find no description of the natal
down. Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the juvenal plumage, in which the
sexes are practically alike, as "above, grayish or brownish olive-green.
Wings and tail slate-black edged chiefly with bluish plumbeous gray, the
coverts and tertiaries with olive-green. Below, pale olive-yellow, the
throat dusky. Transocular streak dusky. * * *

"First winter plumage acquired by a partial postjuvenal moult, beginning
early in July, which involves the body plumage and wing coverts, but not
the rest of the wings nor the tail, young and old becoming practically
indistinguishable." He describes the young male in this plumage as--

above, plumbeous gray veiled with olive-green edgings; the crown bright
lemon-yellow veiled posteriorly only. Below, grayish white, with yellow
edgings here and there, the chin, jugulum, lores and auriculars
jet-black veiled slightly with pale buff. Broad submalar stripes joining
at angle of the chin, and superciliary lines white. Outer half of median
and greater coverts bright lemon yellow forming an almost continuous
wing patch, lesser coverts plumbeous gray, edged with olive-green.

First nuptial plumage acquired by wear, through which the buff edgings
of the black areas, the olive edgings of the back and the yellow edgings
below are almost completely lost, the plumage becoming clear gray,
white, yellow and black.

Of the female, he says: "In first winter and other plumages olive-gray,
dusky on the lores and auriculars, replaces the black areas of the male,
and olive-yellow marks the crown. Above, the plumage is greenish; the
submalar stripes are grayish." Subsequent plumages are acquired by a
complete postnuptial molt in late June and July and by wear in early

_Food._--Little exact information has been gathered regarding the food
of the goldenwing. The insects it feeds on are mainly so small that it
is generally impossible to identify them. Jacobs (1904) states: "Once I
saw a female carry a small brownish butterfly to her young; and several
times I have discovered the birds taking small smooth green worms--such
as strip the leaves of their green coat, leaving the ribbed skeleton--to
their nestlings. The legs of a spider protruded from a bird's bill as
she approached her nest."

The little pale green larva which Jacobs mentions impresses us as the
chief article of food, as we watch the birds. It is 1/2 to 3/4 inch long
and appears to have a smooth, hairless skin. These larvae are obtained,
I believe, chiefly in the large trees.

In the following note A. L. Nelson (1933) furnishes an interesting
detail of the bird's diet:

The following observation on the food habits of a Golden-winged Warbler
(_Vermivora chrysoptera_), made in the vicinity of Port Tobacco (Charles
Co.), Maryland on May 6, 1933, seems worthy of mention, inasmuch as
little specific information on the dietary habits of this species has
been recorded. About 1:30 we observed a single individual of this
species actively feeding in a low shrubbery growth of pawpaw (_Asimina
triloba_), which was in full bloom at this date. Closer observation
revealed that the bird was probing about inside the flowers, and
apparently was getting some kind of larvae. Examination of the
flowers revealed that they were infested with a small, brown-headed
lepidopterous larva. Dissection of a large number of flowers indicated
that the infestation was high, the majority of flowers having one larva,
although in many cases two were present. Several infested flowers were
collected for the purpose of rearing the insects to the adult stage
under laboratory conditions. The cycle was completed without difficulty,
the adults emerging within twelve days. These were examined by Dr. Carl
Heinrich of the U. S. National Museum and found to be _Talponia
plummeriana_ Busck, a small brightly colored Tortricid, the only known
food plant of which is the pawpaw.

_Behavior._--A favorite locality for the golden-winged warbler to spend
the summer in eastern Massachusetts may be the border of a wooded swamp
where tall elm and maple trees shade a dense undergrowth of ferns and
other moisture-loving plants, a swamp which runs out toward drier ground
where abounds a growth of gray birches or a tangle of raspberry canes,
wild grapevines, and goldenrod. Such a spot furnishes countless
situations for hiding the nest in the thick vegetation growing in the
half-wet half-dry ground, and also a source of food near at hand in the
high branches of the trees. Much the same conditions exist along the
course of a brook winding through second growth, or near orchards or old
neglected weedy pastures.

Sometimes, as William Brewster (1906) points out, the bird may frequent
"dry hillsides covered with a young sprout growth of oak, hickory or

In a more southern latitude the habitat may be quite different. Maurice
Brooks (1940), speaking of the bird in the central Allegheny Mountain
region, says: "Shunning the swamps which it frequents in other portions
of its range, it is highly characteristic of the 'chestnut sprout'
association, where the males choose dead chestnuts for perches from
which to sing. It is also fairly common in the pitch and scrub pine
regions on the hills just back of the Ohio river, but becomes less
common toward the eastern portion of the territory with which this
paper deals. It ascends to at least 4,000 feet in Giles Co., Va."

We can watch the little golden-winged warblers best, and often at very
short range, when they are feeding their fledglings recently from the
nest. The little birds sit quietly in the shrubbery near the ground,
waiting for their parents. We can find them easily, for they frequently
utter their characteristic "cricket note," and we can approach them
closely, for they scarcely heed us. The parents, too, when they are
feeding the young birds, pay little attention to us and come fearlessly
to them even when we stand near. At such times they work in a seeming
panic of hurry, flying about in the low growth searching for food, or
visiting the smallest branches high up in the trees, where they cling to
the terminal twigs, hanging like chickadees as they probe among the
curled up leaves (insect nests) for food hidden there, then back to the
waiting young, seemingly in continuous motion and without the slightest
pause in their nervous activity. At this season when the parents are
busy with the young birds, about the third week in June in eastern
Massachusetts, they are so occupied in searching for food that the male
rarely sings.

In two particulars--their tameness, or indifference to our presence, and
the almost complete cessation of singing thus early in the season--the
goldenwing differs from the other common birds which breed in much the
same regions, the chestnut-sided warbler, redstart, northern
yellow-throat, ovenbird, and veery.

Jacobs (1904) speaks of the anxiety of the parent birds if the nest is
disturbed when the nestlings are nearly ready to fly. He says: "If the
hand is placed near the nest at this period of their growth, they will
scramble out and flutter away, all giving vent to their chipping note,
which brings down upon the intruder the wrath of both old birds, who fly
close to his face, snapping their beaks and chipping loudly; then down
upon the ground they fall and feign the broken wing act as long as one
of the young continues to chirp."

_Voice._--The song of the golden-winged warbler is an inconspicuous
little buzzing sound which one might pass by unnoticed, or hearing it
for the first time, might ascribe it to a mechanical sound made by some
insect, not suspecting it to be the song of a bird. Only after we have
become thoroughly familiar with the song do we grasp its definite
character, so that we can pick it out even when we hear it in the
distance among a medley of other voices. In this particular it resembles
the songs of Henslow's and the grasshopper sparrows, which are scarcely
audible, and pass unregarded until well known.

The male goldenwing sings generally from a high perch, often from a
branch bare of leaves; hence, once we find him, we can see him plainly.
When he sings he throws his head back so far that his bill points almost
to the zenith, and sings with it widely open, as if he were pouring out
a great volume of sound. The bird sings freely from his arrival in
spring until mid-June, about a month, often devoting himself to long
periods of singing from the same perch. Later in the season, after the
young have hatched, he sings only fitfully.

The song most often heard is composed of four notes, the first
prolonged, and followed, after an almost imperceptible pause, by three
shorter notes on a lower pitch. All four notes are delivered in a
leisurely manner, drawling in tempo, and might be written _zeee,
zer-zer-zer_. The first note takes up about half the time of the song.
The quality of the voice is buzzing, and when heard near at hand,
slightly rasping, with a lisping suggestion throughout. The song carries
well; curiously it seems little louder when heard at close range, but
from a distance it sounds smoother and, losing much of the buzzing
quality, suggests a long drawn out _thth_, _th-th-th_, like a whispering
wind. Occasionally there may be four short notes, and sometimes only two
following the long initial note.

Like some of the other warblers, notably the black-and-white,
chestnut-sided, and black-throated green, the goldenwing sings two
distinct songs. In the second form the buzzing tone is nearly or wholly
absent. It begins with about half a dozen short notes given in a quick
series on the same pitch, and ends with one long note on a higher key,

I have heard two males singing antiphonally, the responses repeated with
perfect regularity for several minutes.

Of the minor notes the commonest is a short, slightly roughened _dz_.
When much excited both adults use a chattering _tchu-tchu-tchu_,
suggesting in manner of delivery the song of the short-billed marsh
wren, although it is higher pitched and not so loud.

Francis H. Allen (MS.) mentions two other songs, only slightly different
from the above. One goes something like "_tick tick chick chick chick
chick shree_. The _shree_ is a beady note resembling one of the
cedar waxwing's familiar notes." Another song he writes as

_Field marks._--The golden-winged warbler is easy to recognize; it is
the only warbler that combines a blue-gray back and yellow in the wing.
In the two other common warblers with a black throat, the black-throated
blue and the black-throated green, the black runs down the sides a
little way so that the white of the breast comes up in a peak in the
middle of the breast, whereas in the goldenwing the line of division
between the black and white runs straight across. From directly below,
the goldenwing appears wholly black and white, and from this angle is
marked like a chickadee, but a glance at its long, needle-sharp bill
proclaims it a warbler of the genus _Vermivora_.

_Enemies._--Prowling mammals, the enemies of ground-nesting birds, and
predatory hawks are a danger to the bird. In its relation to the
cowbird, Friedmann (1929) reports the bird as "a very uncommon victim."
He says: "I have only six definite records, but the species is listed
as a molothrine victim by Bendire and by Short. As many as four eggs
of the Cowbird have been found in a single nest of this Warbler."

_Fall_ and _winter_.--We lose sight of the goldenwing early in the
season. Silent amid the dense foliage of July and August, the bird is
rarely seen. During the years between 1907 and 1920, when I kept a daily
record of birds seen, I met it only four times in August and only twice
in September, the latest September 12.

Dr. Alexander F. Skutch sends to A. C. Bent the following account of the
bird in its winter quarters: "I am familiar with the golden-winged
warbler in its winter home only in Costa Rica. In this country it
winters on the Caribbean slope from the lowlands up to about 6,000 feet
above sea-level, and on the Pacific slope at least in the region between
2,000 and 4,000 feet. While it appears to be nowhere abundant, I found
it most numerous at Vara Blanca, on the northern slope of the Cordillera
Central at an elevation of about 5,500 feet. Here on one day--November
2, 1937--I saw three individuals, the greatest number I have ever
recorded. This is a region of dense vegetation, subject to much
cloudiness and long-continued, often violent rainstorms--one of the
wettest districts of all Central America. Most of the published records
are from this generally wet side of the country. Yet the bird winters
sparingly in the Basin of El General on the Pacific slope, which during
the first 3 months of the year may be nearly rainless. While in the
Tropics, it appears never to associate with others of its own kind, but
at times may roam about with mixed flocks of other small birds. It may
forage among low, fairly dense, second-growth thickets, or among the
tangled vegetation at the forest's edge, or at times in the forest
itself, or in groves of tall trees, high above the ground. It
investigates the curled dead leaves caught up among the branches, and
devours such small creatures as it finds lurking in their folds. I have
not heard it sing while in its winter home.

"In Costa Rica, it appears to arrive late and to depart early, not
having been recorded before September 15, nor later than April 9. Early
dates of fall arrival are: Costa Rica--San José (Cherrie), September 15
and October 2; La Hondura (Carriker), September 21; Basin of El General,
October 18, 1936; Vara Blanca, October 5, 1937.

"Late dates of spring departure are: Costa Rica--Basin of El General,
April 8, 1936, April 7, 1937, March 30, 1939, and April 9, 1943; Vara
Blanca, April 9, 1938; Guápiles (Carriker), March 30."


_Range._--Eastern United States to northwestern South America.

_Breeding range._--The golden-winged warbler breeds =north= to central
Minnesota (Detroit Lakes, Onamia, and Cambridge); central Wisconsin (St.
Croix Falls, New London, and Shiocton); northern peninsula or Michigan
(McMillan and Mackinac Island); southern Michigan (Kalamazoo, Locke, and
Detroit); southern Ontario (London and Port Rowan, has occurred north to
Collingwood and Bowmanville); central New York (Medina, Rochester, and
Waterford); central Vermont (Rutland), and northern Massachusetts
(Winchendon, Newton, and Lynn). It has been found in summer and may
possibly breed in southern New Hampshire (Concord and Durham); and
southwestern Maine (Emery Mills and Sandford). =East= to eastern
Massachusetts (Lynn, Boston, and Rehoboth); southern Connecticut (New
Haven and Bridgeport); northern New Jersey (Morristown); central
Pennsylvania (near State College); and south through the mountains to
western North Carolina (Weaverville, Waynesville, and Highlands);
northwestern South Carolina (Caesars Head and Highlow Gap); and northern
Georgia (Young Harris, Margret, and Oglethorpe Mountain). =South= to
northern Georgia (Oglethorpe Mountain and Rising Faun); central
Tennessee (Maryland); northern Ohio (Steuben, Port Clinton, and
Wauseon); northern Indiana (Waterloo); and northern Illinois
(Riverside). =West= to northern Illinois (Riverside); central and
western Wisconsin (Baraboo Bluffs and Durand); and central Minnesota
(Minneapolis, Elk River, and Detroit Lakes). It has been noted in
summer, or in migration, west to St. Louis, Mo.; Lake Quivira and
Lawrence, Kans.; and Omaha, Nebr.

_Winter range._--In winter the golden-winged warbler is found =north= to
central Guatemala (Cobán); and northern Honduras (Lancetilla); casually
or in migration to the Yucatán Peninsula (Campeche and Mérida). =East=
to Honduras (Lancetilla); eastern Nicaragua (Escondido River); Costa
Rica (Guápiles and Guayabo); central Panamá (Lion Hill, Canal Zone); and
central Colombia (Santa Marta region, Bogotá, and Villavicencio); rare
or accidental in western Venezuela (Mérida). =South= to central Colombia
(Villavicencio and El Eden). =West= to northwestern Colombia (El Eden,
Medellín, and Antioquia); western Panamá (Chiriquí); Costa Rica (El
General and Nicoya); and central Guatemala (Cobán).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure are: Colombia--Fusagasugá,
March 24. Panamá--Volcán de Chiriquí, April 16. Costa Rica--Vara Blanca,
April 9. Florida--Pensacola, April 22. Alabama--Hollins, May 7.
Georgia--Athens, May 13. South Carolina--Clemson College, May 3. North
Carolina--Raleigh, May 7. District of Columbia--Washington, May 20.
Mississippi--Gulfport, April 18. Missouri--St. Louis, May 25.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Pensacola, April 5.
Alabama--Barachias, April 22. Georgia--Milledgeville, April 12. South
Carolina--Clemson College, April 21. North Carolina--Asheville, April
23. Virginia--Lynchburg, April 19. West Virginia--Bluefield, April 19.
District of Columbia--Washington, April 24. Pennsylvania--Beaver, April
24. New York--Rochester, April 29. Massachusetts--Belmont, April 28.
Louisiana--Grand Isle, April 6. Mississippi--Gulfport, April 10.
Tennessee--Memphis, April 12. Illinois--Olney, April 17. Indiana--Sedan,
April 27. Michigan--Plymouth, April 30. Ohio--Youngstown, April 27.
Ontario--London, April 30. Missouri--St. Louis, April 18. Iowa--Keokuk,
April 27. Wisconsin--Sheboygan, April 30. Minnesota--Minneapolis, April
30. The golden-winged warbler ranges west to central Iowa in migration,
and in the lower Mississippi Valley is much less abundant in spring than
in fall.

Late dates of fall departure are: Minnesota--Minneapolis, September 30.
Wisconsin--Madison, October 11. Ontario--Point Pelee, September 2.
Ohio--Ellsworth Station, September 23. Michigan--Ann Arbor, October 6.
Indiana--Lyons, September 27. Illinois--Chicago, October 7.
Missouri--La Grange, September 30. Kentucky--Versailles, September 25.
Tennessee--Athens, September 29. Louisiana--New Orleans, September 25.
Mississippi--Gulfport, October 8. Massachusetts--Danvers, September 7.
New York--Brooklyn, October 2. Pennsylvania--Jeffersonville, October 2.
District of Columbia--Washington, September 14. West Virginia--French
Creek, September 15. North Carolina--Piney Creek, October 3. South
Carolina--Chester, September 22. Georgia--Atlanta, October 9.
Alabama--Greensboro, October 4.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, July 23.
District of Columbia--Washington, August 8. Virginia--Naruna, August 23.
North Carolina--Highlands, August 15. South Carolina--Charleston, August
20. Georgia--Athens, August 14. Alabama--Greensboro, August 11.
Florida--Pensacola, August 14. Costa Rica--San José, September 15.
Colombia--Bonda, September 6.

_Casual record._--One reported seen at Fort Thorn, N. Mex., in April
1854 by Dr. Joseph Henry. Since no specimen was taken this remains on
the hypothetical list for the State.

_Egg dates._--Massachusetts: 14 records, May 27 to June 24; 9 records,
May 30 to June 7, indicating the height of the season.

Michigan: 33 records, May 13 to June 10; 18 records, May 17 to 30.

New York: 6 records, June 3 to 24.

New Jersey: 7 records, May 25 to June 5 (Harris).



PLATES 12, 13


Bagg and Eliot (1937) write: "According to Wilson, this species was
discovered by William Bartram, who gave it the descriptive name _Parus
aureus alis caeruleis_ (Blue-winged Golden Tit), and sent a specimen to
'Mr. Edwards' by whom it was drawn and etched. Edwards suspected its
identity with the Pine Creeper of Catesby: hence its present
inappropriate name, _pinus_." As there are other warblers whose wings
are more distinctly blue, those of this warbler being only bluish gray,
the old familiar name, blue-winged yellow warbler, which stood for
many years, seems more appropriate and more truly descriptive.

The blue-winged warbler is a bird of the so-called Carolinian Life Zone,
with a rather restricted breeding range in the Central States and not
quite reaching our northern borders. Its center of abundance in the
breeding season seems to be in southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
northern Kentucky, northern Missouri, and southern Iowa. Its range
extends northeastward to New Jersey, southeastern New York, and southern
Connecticut. It is fairly common in the latter State, and I know of one
small colony in eastern Rhode Island within a mile or two of the
Massachusetts line. North of these points in New England it occurs only
as a straggler or casual breeder. In southern New England I have found
it in rather open situations, in neglected pastures where there is low
shrubbery, brier patches, and bushy thickets around the edges; or in
similar growth along the borders of woods, usually on dry uplands; and
sometimes in the rank growth of tall grasses and weeds near the borders
of swamps or streams.

Frank L. Burns wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) of its haunts in
Pennsylvania: "This species is here an inhabitant of the rather open
swampy thickets, upland clearings, neglected pastures and fence rows,
where the grass and weeds have not been choked out by a too thick growth
of briers, bushes, saplings and vines." Dr. Lawrence H. Wilkinshaw tells
me that, in southern Michigan, "this species loves deep swampy woods,
where the golden-winged warbler and cerulean warbler are found." This is
quite different from the haunts in which we find it in the east, though
Dr. Chapman (1907) says: "It is not, as a rule, a deep woods warbler,
though I have found it nesting in heavy forest, but prefers rather,
bordering second growths, with weedy openings, from which it may follow
lines or patches of trees to haunts some distance from the woods."

_Spring._--From its winter home in Central America the blue-winged
warbler seems to migrate from Yucatán straight across the Gulf of Mexico
to the Gulf States and along the eastern coast of Texas to Louisiana. It
is apparently very rare anywhere in Florida or the Keys, and along the
Atlantic coast, where it is comparatively rare, it is found at low
elevations. It migrates northward mainly west of the Alleghenies,
seeming to avoid the mountains; the main body of the species seems to
travel through the Mississippi Valley to the centers of abundance in the
central States. Perhaps the birds that settle in southern New York and
New England travel up the Ohio River, drifting through Pennsylvania and
New Jersey to their destination. According to Milton B. Trautman (1940)
this warbler seems to be a rare or uncommon spring migrant in central
Ohio, and "in some migrations only 2 individuals were noted" at Buckeye
Lake; this adds support to the theory that the birds follow the river
along the southern border of the State.

_Nesting._--Although Wilson (1831) gave a very good description of the
nest of the blue-winged yellow warbler, very little was known of its
nesting in southern New England prior to about 1880, when nests were
found in southern Connecticut, where it is now known to be a fairly
common breeder. I found two nests near West Haven, Conn., on June 8,
1910; both were close to the ground but not quite on it; one was in a
clump of blackberry vines, weeds, and grasses, in a swampy corner of a
scrubby lot; the other was in a bunch of grass and rank weeds on some
sprout land among some mixed bushes. Again, on June 1, 1934, I
photographed (pl. 12) a nest near Hadlyme, Conn., on the edge of an
open, neglected field and close to the border of some young woods. It
was built among and attached to the upright stems of a clump of tall
goldenrod. These were all typical of the nests described below.

Massachusetts nests are very rare; Forbush (1929) gives but two nesting
records for this State, and only one for Rhode Island, though I am
confident that its breeds regularly in the latter State. Horace W.
Wright (1909b) gives a very full account of a nest found near Sudbury,
Mass., in some mixed woods, placed between the exposed roots of a
decayed stump and partially concealed by a growth of ferns.

T. E. McMullen has sent me the data for several Pennsylvania nests,
three in old fields, one under a cherry sprout, one under a small bush,
and one 6 inches up in a tussock of goldenrod; another was under a birch
sprout along the edge of an old woods road.

The nest of the blue-winged warbler is unique and quite distinctive,
often shaped like an inverted cone, usually very narrow and very deep
and supported by a firm cup of strong, dead leaves. I cannot improve on
the excellent description given to Dr. Chapman (1907) by Frank L. Burns
as follows:

Outwardly composed of the broad blades of a coarse grass, the dead
leaves of the maple, beech, chestnut, cherry and oak trees; the leaf
points curving upward and inward forming a deep cuplike nest in which
the bird's head and tail seem almost to meet over her back. Occasionally
grass stems, coarse strips or wild grapevine bark, shreds of corn
fodder, and fragments of beech and wild cherry bark appear in the
make-up. Lined most frequently with wild grapevine bark laid across,
instead of bent around in a circle, shredded finest on top, to which is
added an occasional long black horse-hair or split grass stem, with now
and then a final lining of split grass stems in place of fine bark. The
shape varies in accordance to situation, outwardly a short cornucopia, a
round basket, and once a wall-pocket affair, would best describe the
shapes I have noticed.

_Eggs._--From 4 to 7 eggs may be found in the nest of the blue-winged
warbler; 5 seems to be the commonest number, and sets of 6 are not very
rare. The eggs are ovate, with a tendency to short ovate, and they have
only a slight gloss. The white ground color is finely speckled or
sparingly spotted with "chestnut brown," "mummy brown," and "sayal
brown," with under markings in shades of "drab-gray." Some sets have
three or four eggs that are almost immaculate, with one egg sparingly
spotted; other sets occasionally are prominently spotted with
"drab-gray," "light Quaker drab," and "dark vinaceous-drab," or, less
often, with spots of dark "mummy brown." Usually the majority of the
markings are confined to the large end. The measurements of 50 eggs
average 15.7 by 12.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =16.8= by =13.0= and =14.2= by =11.6= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--An egg is laid each day until the set is complete, and
incubation generally begins when the last egg is laid. The period of
incubation is 10 or 11 days, and the young remain in the nest from 8 to
10 days. Mr. Burns gave Dr. Chapman (1907) the following full account of
the nest life:

The task of incubation falls on the female alone. It appears that an
airing is taken in the early morning or a little before midday, and
again in the early evening, though perhaps not regularly every day. I
have not seen the male about the nest with food at this period. The
female will allow a close approach, looking into one's eyes with that
hunted look so common in wild animals, and often flushing without a
protesting note. The period of incubation in the one instance was
exactly ten days.

On June 13, at 6.30 p. m., five young just hatched were blind, naked and
prostrate from chin to sternum. The shells were disposed of immediately,
in what manner I am unable to state; the female was reluctant to vacate.

On June 15, at 2.45 p. m., the young were able to raise their heads
slightly and a fluffy bit of down had appeared about the head, also a
dark stripe along the back bone. The female appeared, accompanied by the
male, and fed the young with small green larvae--such as may be found
on the under-side of oak and chestnut leaves--and then shielded the
callow young from the hot rays of the sun.

On June 16, at 6.30 p. m., when the young were three days old, a downy
puff appeared between the shoulders, wing quills being dark. The
strongest bird had the eyes partly open and the mouth wide open for

On June 18, at 7 p. m., the heads and bodies were no longer
flesh-colored but were well enough covered to appear dark. The eyes were
open. At a _cluck_ from me their mouths flew open. Both parents fed them
with green-colored larvae. When the male rested a moment on a brier
above the nest, the female flew down and drove him away, fed the young,
re-appearing with excrement in her beak, which was carried in an
opposite direction from the regular approach via maple bough and poplar
sapling. The male fed the young from a mouthful of very minute larvae or
eggs, which were gathered from the silken nests in the unfolding leaves
of a nearby poplar; after this (7.30 p. m.) the female covered the young
for the night.

On June 20, at from 6.50 to 7.35 p. m., the young had been seven days in
the nest. They were well feathered and of a yellowish-green cast, the
short tails being tipped with yellow. The parents were more suspicious.
The female came to the maple bough with something in her beak and flew
down to the briers and back again several times before she dropped to
the edge of the nest and fed her young. The male appeared immediately
but swallowed a green grub himself upon discovery of me twenty-five feet
away. The female came again in five minutes with a brownish object in
her bill, but appeared more timid and refused to drop to the nest until
the male set her an example of courage.

On June 21, at 6.12 p. m., the young were fully fledged in green plumage
above and dirty yellow beneath. They showed fear of me for the first
time, eyeing me in the same manner as the parent bird when on the nest.
They were evidently ready to vacate at a moment's notice or hasty
movement on my part. The parents appeared, scolding rapidly. The female
fed the young as soon as I retired to my old stand under a bush, with a
rather large green grub (6.20 p. m.) and flew out to the top of a
blackberry bush, followed immediately by the topmost fledgling. It could
do little more than run. The adults flew to within a yard of my head,
making a great outcry, and in the midst of the excitement the remainder
of the young vacated the nest with feeble _chips_. The male gave his
attention to them, while the female followed me as I beat a hasty
retreat to enable them to collect their little family before dark. Eight
days had elapsed since incubation was completed, and it is not at all
unusual for the young of this species to leave the nest while so tiny
and ragged.

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down "mouse-gray," and
describes the juvenal plumage, in which the sexes are alike, as, "entire
body plumage olive-yellow darkest on the back and throat. Wings and tail
slate-gray largely edged with plumbeous gray, the tertiaries and coverts
with olive-yellow; the greater and median coverts tipped with white,
yellow tinged. Rectrices largely white. Lores dusky."

A partial postjuvenal molt begins early in July, involving the contour
plumage and the wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings or the tail.
This molt produces the first winter plumage in which the sexes are very
much alike, the female being duller in color, especially the streak
through the eye, and having less yellow on the crown. Dr. Dwight (1900)
describes the first winter male as "above, bright olive-green,
lemon-yellow on the crown veiled by greenish tips. Below, bright
lemon-yellow, the crissum white or merely tinged with yellow.
Transocular streak black. Wing coverts plumbeous gray, edged with
olive-green, the greater and median tipped with white, yellow tinged,
forming two broad wing-bands."

The birds are now practically adult in plumage. The first and subsequent
nuptial plumages are acquired by wear, which produces little change
beyond removal of the greenish tips. Subsequent winter plumages are
acquired by a complete postnuptial molt each July.

The interesting hybrids between this and the golden-winged warbler are
discussed on pages 3 and 4. Kumlien and Hollister (1903) mention a
probable mating of this with the Nashville warbler.

_Food._--Nothing seems to have been published on the food of the
blue-winged warbler beyond that mentioned above as food given to the
young, which is doubtless eaten by the adults as well. It is apparently
wholly insectivorous, seeking its food near the ground in the weed
patches and underbrush where it lives and among the lower branches of
the trees in its haunts. Probably any small insects that it can find in
such places, as well as their larvae and eggs, including many small
caterpillars, are eaten. Small grasshoppers and spiders are probably
included. Prof. Aughey (1878) observed it catching small locusts in
Nebraska. It is evidently a harmless and a very useful bird in
destroying insects that are injurious to foliage.

_Behavior._--Dr. Chapman (1907) writes: "It is rather deliberate in
movements for a Warbler, and is less of a flutterer than the average
member of the genus _Dendroica_. Some of its motions suggest those of
the tree-inhabiting Vireos, while at times, as the bird hangs downward
from some cocoon it is investigating, one is reminded of a Chickadee."
And he quotes Burns as follows:

Perched inconspicuously near the top and well out on the branchlets of a
tree or sapling, preferably facing an opening, if in a thicket; it is in
itself so minute an object as to be passed unseen by many, more
especially as it is much less active than most of our Warblers. With
body feathers puffed out to a delightful plumpness, except for the
backward sweep of the head while in the act of singing, it remains
motionless for quite a while. When it moves it is with a combination of
nervous haste and deliberation, and its song may be heard from quite
another part of the landscape with no apparent reason for the change.
While it has its favorite song perches, it is quite a wanderer and not
infrequently sings beyond possible hearing of its brooding mate, but
oftener within fifty to two hundred feet of the nest.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following study of the
songs of this warbler: "The territory song of the blue-winged warbler
consists of two long, buzz-like notes, the second usually lower in pitch
than the first and rougher in sound, _bzzzzzzz-brrrrrrrr_. The pitch
interval between the two notes varies from one tone to four and a half
tones, but the smaller intervals, one tone and one and a half tones, are
much commoner. The second note is lower in pitch than the first in about
75 percent of my records, and higher in most of the others. In a few
songs the second buzz is a double note, and one may hear both lower and
higher notes from a medium distance, only the lower from a greater
distance, and only the higher when very near the bird.

"The pitch is not high as compared to other warblers, ranging from C´´´
to D´´´´, one tone more than an octave. The territory song commonly
begins on some note from A´´´ to C´´´´. It varies in time from 1-1/5
to 1-4/5 seconds, the first note being either equal to or shorter than
the second. The second note is often twice as long as the first. In some
songs the second note is broken into two notes, and in one record it is
in four short notes, so that the song is essentially like that of the
golden-winged warbler.

"After the birds have been on the breeding grounds for a week or two,
singing of the nesting song begins. This song has the same buzz-like
quality as the other, but it is exceedingly variable, considerably
longer, and hardly ever twice alike. The song often begins with a series
of short notes, like _tsit tsit tsit_, or contains such notes somewhere
in the middle. There are usually long buzzes that change pitch by
slurring upward or downward. On one occasion, I found a bird that sang a
territory song and four different nesting songs. Often the nesting song
is sung in flight. By June this song is heard about as frequently as the
territory song, and in late summer, after the molt, it is the one most
commonly heard.

"The song of this bird is heard from its arrival in spring until early
July, when it ceases for a time. It is usually revived in late July or
early August, and from then on may be heard fairly frequently until the
birds depart about the last of August."

In his notes sent to Dr. Chapman, Burns describes the song as, "a
drowsy, locust-like, _swe-e-e-e-e ze-e-e-e-e_, the first apparently
inhaled and the last exhaled. * * * Another song heard on the first day
of arrival, on one occasion, uttered by several males in company,
possibly transients here, and may be the mating song, suggests the
Chickadee's _che-de-de-e_, _che-dee-e_, and _che-de-de-dee_, uttered
repeatedly in one form or other in excitement, and while running out on
the branchlets. The call and alarm note is a rather weak _chip_." Dr.
Chapman (1912) records a longer song, heard later in the season as
"_w[=e][=e]-ch[)i]-ch[)i]-ch[)i]-ch[)i], ch[=u]r, ch[=e][=e]-ch[=u]r._"

Francis H. Allen tells me that the final note, _ze-e-e-e-e_, as rendered
by Burns, "is really a very rapid series of _pips_, as if the bird had
lips like ours and vibrated them by forcing the air through them--in
other words, giving a sort of avian Bronx cheer, but high in pitch. The
individual pip notes are clear, but the effect of the rapid succession
is somewhat buzzy."

The songs of the hybrid forms may be like the song of either parent
form, more often like that of the goldenwing, or a mixture of the two.

The flight song, as heard by Frank A. Pitelka, is recorded as follows:

                         _zweé-_                          _zweé_
  _tzip-_                    _tzip-_
        _zee-zee-zee-zee-zee-zee-_  _zee-zee-zee-zee-zee-zee-_

The song of the blue-winged warbler is one of the high-frequency songs;
Albert E. Brand (1938) gives the approximate mean as 7,675, the highest
note about 8,050 and the lowest note about 7,125 vibrations per second;
this compares with an approximate mean for the black-poll warbler of
8,900 vibrations per second, the highest frequency of any of the wood
warblers, and an average for all passerine birds of about 4,000
vibrations per second.

_Field marks._--A small warbler with a greenish olive back, yellow
forehead and under parts, with a black line through the eye and two
white wing bars, is a blue-winged warbler. The female is merely more
dull in coloration than the male, and the young even duller. The
hybrids between this and the golden-winged warbler are more puzzling,
but in a general way they can be recognized; a nearly typical blue-winged
warbler with a black throat is probably a Lawrence's warbler; and a
golden-winged warbler without a black throat or cheek and with a
variable amount of white and yellow on the under parts and in the
wing-bars, is probably a Brewster's warbler. But there is an immense
amount of individual variation between the two species, due to frequent

_Fall._--Most of the blue-winged warblers move southward during August
and September, though a few may linger in the southern part of the
breeding range into October. Professor Cooke (1904) says: "Most of the
individuals of the species migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, apparently
avoiding Florida on the east and Texas and Vera Cruz on the west, as
there is no record of the occurrence of this warbler in fall in Texas,
and but one in Florida--that of a bird taken at Key West August 30,
1887." But this remains to be proved.

Alexander F. Skutch writes to me: "This is another very rare migrant in
Central America. It has been recorded only a few times in Guatemala and
apparently not at all in Costa Rica. I have seen it only once, on the
Finca Mocá, Guatemala, on October 30, 1934."

Very little seems to be known about its winter distribution and still
less about its winter habits.


_Range._--Eastern United States to Panamá.

_Breeding range._--The blue-winged warbler breeds =north= to
southeastern Minnesota (Lanesboro); southern Wisconsin (Mazomanie,
Prairie du Sac, and Glarus); northeastern Illinois (Rockford, Deerfield,
and La Grange); southern Michigan (possibly Hastings, and Ann Arbor);
northern Ohio (Toledo, Lakeside, Cleveland, and Austinburg); southern
Pennsylvania (Carlisle); southern New York (Ossining and Whaley Lake);
and Massachusetts (Springfield and Sudbury). =East= to eastern
Massachusetts (Sudbury and Lexington); Connecticut (Westfield and
Saybrook); Long Island (Mastic and Oyster Bay); New Jersey (Demarest,
Morristown, and Elizabeth); southeastern Pennsylvania (Tinicum and
Berwyn); probably occasionally in northern Maryland (Cecil County and
Sabillasville); eastern and central Ohio (Canfield and Columbus);
east-central Kentucky (Berea); central Tennessee (Nashville and Fall
Creek); and central northern Georgia (Young Harris). =South= to northern
Georgia (Young Harris, Margret, and Atlanta); northeastern Alabama (Long
Island); central Tennessee (Wildersville); and northwestern Arkansas
(Pettigrew and Winslow). =West= to northwestern Arkansas (Winslow and
Fayetteville); west-central Iowa (Warrensburg); eastern Iowa (Lacey,
Grinnell, Winthrop, and McGregor); and southeastern Minnesota
(Lanesboro). The blue-winged warbler has occurred in summer west to
eastern Kansas (Emporia and Leavenworth); central-southern and eastern
Nebraska (Red Cloud, Plattsmouth, and Omaha); western Iowa (Sioux City);
and north to Minnesota (Minneapolis); southern Ontario (Point Pelee,
Strathroy, and West Lake); central New York (Penn Yan and Auburn); and
southern New Hampshire (Manchester).

_Winter range._--The principal winter home of the blue-winged warbler
seems to be in Guatemala, though it has been recorded in winter from the
Valley of Mexico; Puebla (Metlatoyuca); Veracruz (Tres Zapotes); to
eastern Nicaragua (Río Escondido and Greytown). There is one winter
record each from Costa Rica (Bonilla), Panamá (Port Antonio), and
Colombia (Santa Marta Region).

On January 6, 1900, a dead blue-winged warbler (apparently dead from
starvation) was picked up in Bronx Park, New York. It had only recently
died and in all probability was the bird seen on December 10, in the
same region.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure are: Colombia--Santa Marta
Region, March 21. Veracruz--Jalapa, April 7. Florida--Pensacola, April
25. Alabama--Guntersville, May 2. District of Columbia--Washington, May
30. Louisiana--Monroe, April 27. Texas--San Antonio, May 12.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Pensacola, April 4.
Alabama--Shelby, April 4. Georgia--Atlanta, March 26. North
Carolina--Arden, April 18. District of Columbia--Washington, April 23.
West Virginia--Wheeling, April 23. Pennsylvania--Germantown, April 25.
New York--Yonkers, April 26. Massachusetts--Lexington, May 6.
Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, March 13. Louisiana--New Orleans, March 23.
Arkansas--Winslow, April 2. Tennessee--Nashville, April 7.
Kentucky--Eubank, April 10. Illinois--Springfield, April 29.
Ohio--Columbus, April 22. Michigan--Ann Arbor, May 1. Missouri--St.
Louis, April 17. Iowa--Grinnell, April 28. Wisconsin--Reedsburg, April
30. Minnesota--Lanesboro, May 7. Texas--Cove, March 27. Kansas--Onaga,
April 26.

Late dates of fall departure are: Minnesota--Lanesboro, September 1.
Wisconsin--Elkhorn, September 19. Iowa--Giard, September 20.
Missouri--Monteer, September 17. Arkansas--Winslow, September 18.
Louisiana--Monroe, October 7. Michigan--Jackson, September 13.
Ohio--Oberlin, September 27. Indiana---Bloomington, September 28.
Illinois--Chicago, September 29. Kentucky--Bowling Green, October 5.
Tennessee--Memphis, September 11. Mississippi--Deer Island, October 13.
Massachusetts--Belmont, September 6. New York--New York City, September
25. Pennsylvania---Jeffersonville, September 19. District of Columbia,
Washington, September 14. West Virginia--French Creek, September 28.
North Carolina--Reidsville, September 26. South Carolina--Huger,
September 10. Georgia--Tifton, September 27. Florida--St. Marks,
October 9.

Early dates of fall arrival are: District of Columbia--Washington,
August 13. Georgia--Columbus, July 28. Alabama--Leighton, August 8.
Florida--Key West, August 30. Mississippi--Gulfport, August 23.
Texas--Cove, July 29. Tamaulipas--Matamoros, August 25. Costa
Rica--Bonilla, September 8.

_Banding._--Few blue-winged warblers have been banded and recovered. A
bird banded at Elmhurst, Long Island, on August 17, 1935, flew into a
screened porch at Westbury, Long Island, on May 7, 1937. The two places
are about 15 miles apart.

_Egg dates._--Connecticut: 30 records, May 25 to June 24; 20 records,
May 29 to June 6, indicating the height of the season.

New Jersey: 40 records, May 16 to June 19; 29 records, May 22 to 30.

Pennsylvania: 27 records, May 28 to July 7; 14 records, May 28 to June 3





Bachman's warbler was discovered by Dr. John Bachman a few miles from
Charleston, S. C., in July, 1833. According to Audubon (1841), who
described and named in honor of his "amiable friend" the only two
specimens taken, several other birds were seen soon after in the same

More than half a century passed before the bird again appeared in
America, this time in Louisiana. Charles S. Galbraith (1888), while
securing specimens of warblers at Lake Pontchartrain for the millinery
trade in the spring of 1886, took a single bird; in the two succeeding
years he collected a number of additional specimens, 6 in 1887 and 31 in
1888. These birds were evidently migrating, for the 31 were all taken
between March 2 and 20, and none could be found after the end of March.
Chapman (1907) comments on Galbraith's first specimen: "This specimen,
now in the American Museum of Natural History, is prepared for a
hat-piece. The feet are missing, the wings are stiffly distended, the
head bent backward in typical bonnet pose, and, had it not been for an
interest in ornithology which led Galbraith to take his unknown birds to
Mr. Lawrence for identification, this _rara avis_ might have become an
unappreciated victim on Fashion's altar."

Since then the records have multiplied; but _bachmanii_ has always been
an extremely local species, even in migrations, and breeds in primeval
swamps in small colonies, which are few and far between. At the present
writing, the bird is one of the very rarest of North American warblers.
It has been an unattained ideal to the writer; yet, having heard much
about its habits from the late Arthur T. Wayne and having visited with
him the former breeding grounds, he has some consolation for not having
met it in life.

Wayne (1901) took a specimen of this species on May 15, 1901, near Mount
Pleasant, which was the first record for South Carolina since Dr.
Bachman collected the type, and says: "I am positive that I have heard
this song nearly every summer in the same localities where the male was
found, but I always keep out of such places after April 10 on account of
the myriads of ticks and red bugs which infest them. Then, too, such
places are simply impenetrable on account of the dense blackberry vines,
matted with grape vines, fallen logs piled one upon another, and a dense
growth of low bushes."

_Spring._--From its winter home in Cuba Bachman's warbler enters the
United States through Florida, and according to Howell (1932) the
earliest date of arrival in that state is February 27. It has also been
recorded from Louisiana on the same date (Chapman, 1907). The majority
of individuals, however, cross to the United States mainland early in
March; apparently the birds that summer in Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas,
and Kentucky reach their breeding grounds by skirting the Gulf coast and
continuing up the Mississippi Valley. They reach the vicinity of
Charleston, S. C., in March and nesting begins at once, for Wayne (1907)
found a nest on March 27 containing one egg and another on April 3
with five well-incubated eggs. He calls attention to the fact that
Bachman's warbler therefore breeds earlier than the resident pine
and yellow-throated warblers.

_Nesting._--Dr. Bachman did not discover the breeding grounds of this
warbler, and it was more than 60 years before the first nests and eggs
became known to science; Widmann (1897) found the bird breeding in the
St. Francis River country of Missouri and Arkansas on May 13, 1897. The
nesting area extended "over two acres of blackberry brambles among a
medley of half-decayed and lately-felled tree-tops, lying in pools of
water, everything dripping wet with dew in the forenoon, and steaming
under a broiling sun in the afternoon." The first nest, which he
describes as being 2 feet from the ground, "was made of leaves and grass
blades, lined with a peculiar black rootlet; it was tied very slightly
to a vertical blackberry vine of fresh growth and rested lightly on
another, which crossed the former at a nearly right angle. From above it
was entirely hidden by branchlets of latest growth, and the hand could
not have been inserted without at first cutting several vines, overlying
it in different directions."

Ridgway (1897) describes this nest as, "a somewhat compressed compact
mass composed externally of dried weed- and grass-stalks and dead
leaves, many of the latter partially skeletonized; internally composed
of rather fine weed- and grass-stalks, lined with black fibres,
apparently dead threads of the black pendant lichens (_Ramalina_,
species?) which hang in beard-like tufts from button-bushes
(_Cephalanthus_) and other shrubs growing in wetter portions of the
western bottom-lands. The height of the nest is about 3-1/2 inches; its
greatest breadth is about 4 inches, its width in the opposite direction
being about 3 inches. The cavity is about 1-1/2 inches deep and
1-1/2 × 2 inches wide."

In 1906, Wayne (1907) found six nests of Bachman's warbler near
Charleston, S. C., from two of which the young had flown. "The swamp in
which this warbler breeds is heavily timbered and subjected to overflow
from rains and reservoirs. The trees are chiefly of a deciduous
character, such as the cypress, black gum, sweet gum, tupelo, hickory,
dogwood, and red oak. In the higher parts of the swamp short-leaf pines,
water oaks, live oaks, and magnolias abound. The undergrowth is chiefly
cane, aquatic bushes, and swamp palmetto, while patches of blackberry
brambles and thorny vines are met with at almost every step." The first
two nests, found on April 17, are described as follows:

The first nest was placed upon a dead palmetto leaf, being supported by
a small aquatic bush, and was completely hidden by a living palmetto
leaf which overhung the nest, like an umbrella. It was in a dense swamp,
two feet above the ground, and contained four pure white eggs, almost
ready to be hatched.

The second nest, which was within one hundred yards of the first one,
was built in a bunch of canes (_Arundinaria tecta_), and supported by a
palmetto leaf. This nest was three feet above the ground, in a
comparatively dry situation, and contained four pure white eggs in an
advanced stage of incubation. * * *

The two nests are similar, being constructed of fine grass, cane leaves,
and other leaves, the latter skeletonized. The second nest, taken April
17, is 6-1/2 inches high, 6 inches wide, 2 inches wide at rim, and 2
inches deep. It is composed almost entirely of dead cane leaves, a
little Spanish moss (_Tillandsia usneoides_), and a few skeletonized
leaves. * * *

The female is a very close sitter; indeed so close that I found it
necessary to touch her before she would leave the nest. This habit was
the same in both females.

The other nests were in low bushes, vines, or canes.

During that same year Embody (1907) discovered Bachman's warbler
breeding in Logan County, Ky., and later Holt (1920) found it nesting in
Autauga County, Ala. The localities in which these birds were breeding
and the locations of the nests were not very different from those
described above by Wayne.

_Eggs._--The egg of Bachman's warbler is ovate and pure white, and
usually glossy. The only spotted egg on record is one of a set described
by Holt (1920) as follows: "The nest contained four eggs, three of them
pure, glossy white, the other with a dozen minute dots of light brown,
mostly about the large end; all were tinted faint salmon pink by the
yolks." Three to five eggs constitute a set; three seem the usual
number, with four a close second, while five are unusual.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The measurements of 42 eggs average 15.8 by 12.4
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =16.6= by 12.9,
16.5 by =13.0=, =14.9= by 12.2, and 15.8 by =11.6= millimeters.]

_Plumages._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Two young birds, just able to fly from the
nest and taken by Wayne on May 13, are thus described by Brewster

The male which is now before me may be described as follows:--Top and
sides of head and fore part of back faded hair brown with a trace of
ashy on the middle of crown; remainder of upper parts dull olive green;
wings and tail (which are fully grown) as in the first winter plumage
excepting that the greater and middle wing-coverts are rather more
broadly tipped with light brown, forming two well-marked wing-bars;
chin and throat brownish white tinged with yellow; sides of jugulum
smoke gray, its center yellowish; sides of breast gamboge yellow shading
into olive on the flanks; middle of breast, with most of abdomen,
yellowish white; under tail-coverts ashy white. All the feathers on the
under parts which are strongly yellow or olive, and those on the upper
parts which are decidedly ashy or greenish, appear to belong to the
autumnal plumage or, as it is now called, the first winter plumage, but
all the other feathers on the head and body are evidently those of the
first plumage. * * *

I have not seen the young female Bachman's Warbler above referred to,
but Mr. Wayne writes me that "It differs from the male only in these
respects: The yellow on the sides of the breast is very much paler and
more restricted and the back is not greenish, but brownish. The white on
the tail-feathers is merely indicated on the margins of the inner webs
of the tail-feathers."

It would appear from the above that there is a sexual difference even in
the juvenal plumage, and that the postjuvenal molt begins before the
middle of May. This molt evidently involves all the contour plumage and
the wing coverts but not the rest of the wings or the tail. The young
male in first winter plumage is similar to the adult male at that
season, but the crown is entirely gray, or with very little black; the
feathers of the black patch on the throat, which is more restricted, are
tipped with yellowish or buffy. There are no specimens available that
indicate a prenuptial molt, which is probably very limited. Young males
in the first nuptial plumage may be recognized by the worn and faded
wings and tail.

The complete postnuptial molt of adults apparently occurs in July or
earlier; I have seen no molting birds, but a large series of August
birds are all in completely fresh winter plumage. In this plumage the
male resembles the spring male, but the black of the crown is widely
tipped with gray and the black of the breast is narrowly tipped with
yellowish; these tips largely wear away before spring, although Wayne
(1910) says that his "breeding males all show the olive yellow edging on
the black feathers." Similar molts and changes take place in the female,
but she has no black in the crown and much less or none at all on the
breast; her colors are duller and she has less white in the tail, as
well as olive-green, instead of yellow, lesser wing coverts.

For a full description of individual variations in plumage, the reader
is referred to Mr. Brewster's (1891) excellent paper.]

_Food._--Very little information is to be found concerning the food of
this warbler, but insects undoubtedly constitute its diet. Howell (1924)
says: "Five stomachs of this species from Alabama contained remains of
caterpillars and a few fragments of Hymenoptera, probably ants."

_Behavior._--Wayne (1907), in writing of this bird on its breeding
grounds, says: "Bachman's Warbler is a high-ranging bird, like the
Yellow-throated Warbler, and generally sings from the top of a sweet
gum or cypress. It appears to have regular singing stations during the
breeding season, and upon leaving a tree it flies a long distance before
alighting. On this account it is impossible to follow the bird through
the dark forest, and it can only be detected by its song. I have
occasionally seen the males in low gall-berry bushes within six or eight
inches of the ground, but their usual resorts are among the topmost
branches of the tallest forest trees."

Brewster (1891) had similar experience with migrating birds in Florida:

Nearly or quite all that has been hitherto written about this Warbler
would lead one to infer that its favorite haunts are dense thickets,
undergrowth, or low trees, and that it seldom ventures to any
considerable height above the ground. Our experience, however, was
directly contrary to this. * * * The bird, moreover, not only frequented
the tops of the tallest trees, but at all times of the day and under
every condition of weather kept at a greater average height than any
other Warbler excepting _Dendroica dominica_. In its marked preference
for cypresses it also resembled the species just named, but unlike it
was never seen in pines. * * *

At the time of our visit the Suwanee bottoms were alive with small birds
many of which were doubtless migrants. They banded together in mixed
flocks often of large size and motley composition. * * * Such a
gathering was nearly certain to contain from one or two to five or six
Bachman's Warblers.

These with the Parulas were most likely to be feeding in the upper
branches of some gigantic cypress, at least one hundred feet above the
earth, where they looked scarcely larger than bumble bees. * * *

The habits and movements of Bachman's Warbler are in some respects
peculiar and characteristic. It does not flit from twig to twig nor
launch out after flying insects in the manner of most Warblers, and many
of its motions are quite as deliberate as those of a Vireo. Alighting
near the end of a branch it creeps or sidles outward along a twig, and
bending forward until the head points nearly straight down, inserts the
bill among the terminal leaflets with a peculiar, slow, listless motion,
keeping it there a second or two, and repeating the leisurely thrust
many times in succession without changing its foothold. The action is
like that of several other members of the genus--notably _H. pinus_ and
_H. chrysoptera_--under similar conditions, and suggests the sucking in
of liquid food, perhaps honey or dew. Not infrequently a bird would hang
back downwards beneath a twig and feed from the under sides of the
leaves in the manner of a Titmouse. * * *

Many of the hackberry trees along the banks of this stream contained
compact bunches--nearly as large as a child's head--of dead leaves
blackened by exposure to wind and weather. These bunches probably
sheltered insects or their larvae, for they attracted several species
of birds, especially the Bachman's Warblers which would work at them
minutes at a time with loud rustling, sometimes burrowing in nearly
out of sight and sending the loosened leaves floating down to the
ground. Upon exhausting the supply of food or becoming tired of the
spot--whether one of the leaf bunches or the extremity of a cypress
branch--the bird almost invariably started on a long flight, often going
hundreds of yards through the woods or crossing the river, instead of
merely passing to the next branch or tree as almost any other Warbler
would have done under similar circumstances. This habit seemed to us
characteristic of the species.

Atkins wrote from Key West (Scott, 1890):

Bachman's Warbler in its habits is very much like the Parula Warbler
(_Compsothlypis americana_). The resemblance is more noticeable when
feeding and in search of food. The birds will then penetrate a thick
bunch of leaves and go through, over and all around in the most thorough
manner in their exploration after insects that appeal to their taste.
They are very active, and constantly in motion. They are also
quarrelsome, and resent the intrusion of other species. Frequently I
have noticed them fighting away the White-eyed Vireo, and where two or
more Bachman's Warblers are observed together, one is pretty sure to see
them chasing and fighting among themselves. When disturbed or alarmed
they are at once alert; a sharp alarm note, something like that of a
Yellow-throated Warbler (_D. dominica_) is uttered, but more forcible
and clear cut in its delivery. This is accompanied with a few jerks of
the tail, and the bird is off to a neighboring tree. They are found
alike in the trees, low bushes, and shrubbery, sometimes on or quite
near the ground, and seem to prefer the heavy and more thickly grown
woods to trees or bushes more in the open. Young birds are quite tame,
but the adults as a rule were very shy and difficult to approach after
having been once disturbed.

_Voice._--The song of Bachman's warbler is of a wiry or insect-like
character, and has been widely compared by many observers to the music
of the worm-eating and parula warblers and the chipping sparrow. It also
resembles, according to Aretas A. Saunders (MS.), one of the songs of
the blue-winged warbler. Brewster (1891) says:

The song is unlike that of any other species of _Helminthophila_ with
which I am acquainted and most resembles the song of the Parula Warbler.
It is of the same length and of nearly the same quality or tone, but
less guttural and without the upward run at the end, all of its six or
eight notes being given in the same key and with equal emphasis. Despite
these differences it would be possible to mistake the performance,
especially at a distance, for that of a Parula singing listlessly. The
voice, although neither loud nor musical, is penetrating and seems to
carry as far as most Warblers'. Besides the song the only note which we
certainly identified was a low hissing _zee-e-eep_, very like that of
the Black-and-white Creeper.

Widmann (1897), observing a singing male for 8 hours, says that "the
bird kept singing nearly all the time at the rate of ten times a minute
with the regularity of clockwork, and its sharp, rattling notes reminded
me strongly of an alarm-clock. In this regard it recalls one of the
performances of Parula, whose rattle is of the same length and quality,
except that it has a certain rise at the end, by which it is easily

Wayne (1910) heard one singing exactly like a prothonotary warbler, this
song lasting for more than 20 minutes. And Howell (1924) mentions two
Bachman's warblers, observed in Alabama, that "had the habit of singing
on the wing, the song being delivered just before the bird alighted on a
perch after a short flight."

_Field marks._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Under certain circumstances Bachman's
warbler might be mistaken for a black-throated green warbler, but,
fortunately, the two species do not frequent similar habitats at the
same seasons. Mr. Brewster (1891) calls attention to the difficulty of
distinguishing it from the parula warbler, when the two are seen against
the sky in a lofty tree-top; at such times--

the chestnut throat-markings of the Parula showed quite as dark and
distinct as the black cravat of the Bachman's Warbler.

The latter bird, however, was the larger or rather plumper-looking of
the two, and if the upper side of the wings could be seen the absence of
the white bars which are so conspicuous on the wings of the Parula
Warbler was quickly noticed. * * * Of course it is only the male
Bachman's Warbler which can be confounded with the Parula, for the
female--setting aside occasional individuals which have black on the
throat--is most like the Orange-crowned Warbler. * * * Both sexes of
Bachman's Warbler habitually carry the feathers of the crown a little
raised, giving the head a fluffy appearance.]

_Fall._--[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Wayne (1925) says: "The Bachman's Warbler has
left South Carolina before the advent of August; the latest date I have
is a young male taken by me on July 16, 1919." But he records a specimen
which struck the lighthouse on Tybee Island, Ga., on September 23, 1924;
he thought that this bird might have come from somewhere in the
Mississippi Valley region, where the species breeds much later than in
South Carolina. Atkins sent the following notes to W. E. D. Scott

Key West, Florida, 1889. First arrival from north, July 17, one adult
male and one young female. Next observed July 23, three birds. Not seen
again until July 31, though I was watching for them almost continually;
three birds again on this date. August 4, found them more common perhaps
a dozen birds in all were seen. From this time till August 25 inclusive,
I found them regularly in small numbers. On August 8, 11, and 25 they
were most abundant, particularly so on the first-named date, when as
many as twenty-five or thirty birds were seen. After the 11th there was
a decline in the numbers until the 25th, when they were again almost as
numerous as on the 8th, but none were observed after the 25th.

Bachman's warbler is said to spend the winter in western Cuba and
the Isle of Pines, migrating through Florida and the Keys.]


_Range._--Southeastern United States and Cuba.

_Breeding range._--Although Bachman's warbler was described more than a
hundred years ago its range is still very imperfectly known. After its
discovery near Charleston, S. C., in 1833, the bird remained unknown
until rediscovered in 1886 near Lake Pontchartrain, La. The first nest
was found in 1897 in southeastern Missouri, nearly the northwestern
border of the range as now known. It was not until 1901 that the species
was again found near Charleston and in 1905 the first young birds were
collected in the same swamp where the type specimen was collected.

Bachman's warbler breeds, locally =north= to northwestern Arkansas
(possibly Winslow, Big Creek, and Bertig); southeastern Missouri
(Grandin, Senath, and has occurred in Shannon County); central Kentucky
(Russellville and Mammoth Cave); possibly occasionally in southern
Indiana, since a pair was seen throughout the breeding season at
Indianapolis; north-central Alabama (Irondale); and southern South
Carolina (Charleston). =East= to the coastal swamps of South Carolina
(Charleston), and Georgia (Savannah). =South= to Georgia (Savannah and
possibly the Okefenokee Swamp); southern Alabama (Tensas River); and
southern Louisiana (West Baton Rouge Parish). =West= to southeastern
Louisiana (West Baton Rouge Parish) and northwestern Arkansas (Winslow,
possibly). In addition, specimens have been recorded at Fayetteville,
Ark.; Versailles, Ky.; Aylett, Va.; and Raleigh, N. C.

_Winter range._--The only known wintering place for the Bachman's
warbler is the island of Cuba. It has occurred in the Bahamas in fall
migration. Color is given to the theory that this species may
occasionally spend the winter in the deep swamps of Georgia and Florida,
by the collection of a specimen in Okefenokee Swamp on December 30,
1928, and the occurrence of several in December of 1932. A specimen was
collected at Melbourne, Fla., on January 27, 1898.

_Migration._--That Bachman's warbler migrates through the Florida Keys
is indicated by the large number seen at Key West in fall migration and
by the many that have struck the light at Sombrero Key. On March 3,
1889, 21 birds of this species struck the light and five more were
killed on April 3.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Lukens, February 27.
Georgia--Atlanta, April 18. Alabama--Woodbine, March 20.
Mississippi--Deer Island, March 21. Louisiana--Mandeville, February 27.

In spring the latest date at Dry Tortugas Island, Fla., is April 9 and
the earliest fall arrival at Key West, Fla., July 17.

Fall departure dates are: Georgia--Savannah, September 24. Florida--Key
West, September 5.

_Egg dates._--Missouri: 4 records, May 13 to 17.

South Carolina: 19 records, March 27 to June 17; 10 records, March 27 to
April 4.





Alexander Wilson (1832) discovered this warbler on the banks of the
Cumberland River in Tennessee and gave it the common name it has borne
ever since, although it seems inappropriate to name a bird for a State
so far from its main breeding range in Canada. Only two specimens were
ever obtained by him, and he regarded it as a very rare species,
possibly a mere wanderer from some other clime, hence the name
_peregrina_. Audubon never saw more than three individuals, migrants in
Louisiana and at Key West. And Nuttall, it seems, never saw it at all.
Its apparent rarity in those early days was, perhaps, due to the fact
that it is inconspicuously colored and might easily be overlooked or
mistaken for a small plainly colored vireo or for the more common
Nashville warbler; its fluctuation in numbers from year to year in
different places may also have suggested its apparent rarity. Here in
Massachusetts, we have found it very common in certain years and very
scarce in others.

_Spring._--Professor Cooke (1904) says: "In spring migration the
Tennessee warbler is rarely found east of the Alleghenies, nor is it so
common in the Mississippi Valley as during the fall migration." And he
makes the rather surprising statement that "the Biological Survey has
received no notes from the South Atlantic States on the spring migration
of the Tennessee warbler, nor from Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana,
though two birds were seen in April in Cuba and some were taken on the
island of Grand Cayman, and the species has been noted several times in
spring at Pensacola, Fla." Yet he gives April 26, 1885, as the date of
its arrival at Rising Fawn, Ga. And H. H. Kopman (1905) writes:

In a small lot of warblers sent Andrew Allison, In the spring of 1902,
from the lighthouse on Chandeleur Island, off the southeast coast of
Louisiana, was a Tennessee Warbler that had struck the lighthouse April
13. While I had some dubious records of the occurrence of the Tennessee
Warbler at New Orleans in the early part of April, it was not until 1903
that I saw the species, in spring, and then in some numbers, singing,
and loitering to a degree that surprised me, for the first of these
transients appeared April 26, and the last was noted May 9. They were
restricted almost to one spot, a thicket of willows beside a pond
in the suburbs of New Orleans. I observed others the latter part of
April, 1905.

This warbler seems to be a rare spring migrant through Florida; A. H.
Howell (1932) gives seven records, from Key West to Pensacola, in March
and April. The few records available seem to indicate that the main
migration route is along the eastern coasts of Central America (Dr.
Skutch tells me that he sees it both spring and fall in Costa Rica),
Mexico, and Texas to the Mississippi Valley, whence it spreads out to
reach its wide breeding range. Some birds may reach Florida via Cuba,
and we have some evidence that it migrates across the Gulf of Mexico. It
is common on the coast of Texas in spring.

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that about Monadnock, N. H.,
the Tennessee warbler is "very rare, and seemingly irregular. It haunts
blossoming apple trees, big elms, and roadside copses of mixed deciduous
second growth."

At Buckeye Lake, Ohio, according to Milton B. Trautman (1940), "the
daily and seasonal numbers of no warbler species fluctuated as greatly
as did those of the Tennessee Warbler. During some spring migrations it
was decidedly uncommon, and never more than 5 individuals were recorded
in a day nor more than 35 for the spring. During other years as many as
250 individuals (May 16, 1929) were observed in a day, and more than 800
were noted during the migration. * * * The birds in spring chiefly
inhabited the upper half of the taller trees of both upland and lowland
wooded areas and also the upper parts of rows or groups of tall trees
along the lake shore, streams, and about farmhouses."

It must have been a very common migrant in Minnesota at one time, for
Dr. Roberts (1936) writes:

Formerly, when all Warblers were more abundant than now, the little
Tennessee flooded the tree-tops for a week or ten days in such numbers
as to equal, if not excel, all other species put together, excepting
only the Myrtle. Insignificant in size and inconspicuous in garb, it
made up for these shortcomings by numbers and incessant vocal effort,
indifferent performer though it is. It is still one of the commonest
species. It keeps well up among the topmost branches and moves
restlessly about in search of food, singing meanwhile with little
apparent effort and announcing its passage from one tree-top to another
by a succession of sharp little _yeap-yeaps_ that are almost as
characteristic to the trained ear as the song itself.

A. D. Henderson, of Belvedere, Alberta, tells me that the Tennessee
warbler is probably the most numerous of the warblers which spend the
summer in the territory around Belvedere and in the Fort Assiniboine
District. It breeds mainly in poplar woods, but I have also found nests
in dry muskeg.

_Nesting._--Prior to the beginning of the present century very little
authentic information on the nesting habits of the Tennessee warbler was
available. Professor Cooke (1904) records two sets of eggs taken by one
of the parties of the Biological Survey in 1901 at Fort Smith,
Mackenzie, of which he says: "These eggs are among the first absolutely
authentic specimens known to science." And Dr. Chapman (1907) remarked:
"The Tennessee Warbler awaits a biographer." Since then, we have learned
much about it, mainly through the writings of B. S. Bowdish and P. B.
Philipp, who found it breeding abundantly in New Brunswick. In their
first paper (1916) they describe the summer haunts and the nesting
habits of this warbler as follows:

The region in question is particularly well adapted to the nesting
requirements of the Tennessee Warbler, as we noted them during the above
period. Extensive lumbering has removed the greater part of the large
growth spruce and balsam timber, which forms the great bulk of the
forests of this region, leaving areas of small trees, which, in the
older clearings, have grown thickly, and to an average height of ten
feet. These are interspersed with areas of more or less open, large
timber, and others where the second growth has reached little more than
the proportions of somewhat scattered shrubbery. The essentially level
surface is frequently scored by slight depressions which form the beds
of tiny streams, bordered on either side by boggy ground, dotted with
grass tussocks, bushes and small trees, and overspread with a luxuriant
growth of moss. Such areas are most numerous in cleared tracts, but not
infrequent in the edges and the more open portions of the woods. These
are the summer home-sites of the Tennessee Warbler. * * *

At the time of our visit to the breeding country, in the middle of June,
nest building was completed and full sets of eggs had been laid.
Altogether, ten nests were located, all built on the ground in
substantially the same general sort of situation, and all but two were
found by flushing the bird. The nest is built in the moss, usually in a
wet place at the foot of a small bush, and in most cases in woods,
somewhat back from the more open part of the clearings. A hollow is dug
in the moss, usually beneath an overhanging bunch of grass. The nest is
in nearly every case entirely concealed and it is impossible to see it
from any view-point without displacing the overhanging grass.
Consequently unless the bird is flushed it would be all but impossible
to find it. The outer foundation of the nest is of dry grass forming
quite a substantial structure. Several nests had wisps of grass stems
extending from the front rim, as noted in description of the first nest
below. It is lined, usually, with fine dry grass, to which in some
instances the quill-like hairs of the porcupine, or white moose hairs,
are added, and more rarely still, fine hair-like roots which were not
identified. * * *

This species seems to be somewhat gregarious. In 1914, in one small
clearing, five males were heard singing at the same time. In 1915, in
the same clearing, three males were heard singing at once, and two nests
were found. In almost every clearing of suitable size at least two pairs
of birds were found, the nests being sometimes located rather close
together. * * *

On the second day of our sojourn, June 19, we visited one of the typical
nesting places of this warbler, a boggy cleared swale, with scattering,
small second growth, and soon flushed a female from a nest containing
six fresh, or practically fresh, eggs. This nest, typical of the
majority of those found in both construction and situation, was placed
in the side of a small tussock, bedded in moss and completely overhung
by the dead grass of the previous year's growth. The nest was composed
entirely of fine, nearly white, dead grass stems. From the front rim
protruded outward and downward, a wisp of dead grass tips, lying over
the lower grasses in the tussock, and shingled over by the overhanging
grass, establishing a continuity of the side of the tussock, thus
cunningly adding to the perfect concealment. A tiny tree and one or two
bush shoots grew from the tussock, close to the nest and this feature
was typical of the greater number of the nests found.

They give the measurements of four nests; the outside diameter varied
from 3 to 4 inches, the inside diameter from 1-1/8 to 2 inches, the
outside depth from 2 to 3-1/4, and the inside depth from 1-1/8 to 1-1/2
inches. What nests I have seen, in collections, all appeared much
flatter than the above measurements indicate, but they were probably
flattened in transit. All that I have seen seemed to consist entirely of
very light, straw-colored grass rather lightly arranged. Some observers
mention moss in the composition of the nest, but the nests are evidently
made in the moss and not of it.

Dr. Paul Harrington mentions in his contributed notes four nests that he
found near Sudbury, Ontario: "The nests were all similarly situated in a
clump or mound of sphagnum, well arched so that to obtain a full view of
the nest it was necessary to part the sphagnum, in shaded areas on the
borders of black spruce bogs. These, and others I have examined, have
always been constructed entirely of fine straw-colored grasses, whereas
in those of the Nashville warbler a few hairs or gold-threads were
generally incorporated in the structure."

Philipp and Bowdish (1919) record in a later paper the finding of a
number of additional nests in New Brunswick, and say: "The experience of
the past two years has demonstrated that while the boggy ground nesting,
previously described, is the really typical and by far the most common
form, not a few of these birds nest on higher and dryer ground. One such
nest, found June 24, 1918, was well up on a steep hillside, in rather
open woods, on fairly dry ground, utterly devoid of moss and grass
cover. It was built among a thick growth of dwarf dogwood, and under a
tiny, crooked stemmed maple sapling, very well concealed, and was rather
more substantially built than the average nest of this species."

The nesting history of the Tennessee warbler would not be complete
without mentioning two authentic records made in 1901. J. Parker Norris,
Jr. (1902), reported receipt of a set of four eggs, collected by Major
Allan Brooks on June 15, 1901, at Carpenter Mountain, Cariboo, British
Columbia. This is apparently the first authentic set of eggs ever taken,
as those mentioned above by Professor Cooke were taken a few days later.
In this far western locality, the birds "generally frequented the clumps
of aspen trees and Norway pines, where the ground was covered with a
thick growth of dry pine grass." Major Brooks found several other nests
in the same locality, and says in his notes: "The nests were always on
the ground, sometimes at the foot of a small service berry bush or twig.
They were all arched over by the dry pine grass of the preceding year,
this year's growth having just well commenced."

The Fort Smith nests, referred to by Professor Cooke, were recorded by
Edward A. Preble (1908) as follows:

Nests containing eggs were found by Alfred B. Preble on June 20 and 27,
the eggs, five in number, being fresh in each instance. The first nest
was embedded in the moss at the foot of a clump of dead willows near the
edge of a dense spruce forest. It was rather slightly built of dead
grass with a lining of the same material, and was protected from above
by the overhanging bases of the willows, and by the strips of bark which
had fallen from them, so that the nest could be seen only from the side.
The second nest was more bulky, was composed outwardly of shreds of
bark, coarse grass, and _Equisetum_ stems, and was lined with fine
grass. It was placed on the ground beneath a small fallen tree, in a
clearing which had been swept by fire a year or two previously.

W. J. Brown, of Westmount, Quebec, tells me that he and L. M. Terrill in
an hour found 16 nests of this warbler in a corner of a sphagnum bog,
and, "there must have been about 100 pairs nesting in this ideal spot at
the time."

_Eggs._--The Tennessee warbler lays large sets of eggs, from four to
seven, with sets of six common. Philipp and Bowdish (1919) state, "it
appears that more full layings of six eggs are to be found than of

The eggs are ovate to short ovate and have only a slight luster. The
ground color is white or creamy white, and the markings, in the form of
speckles and small spots, are in shades of "chestnut" and "auburn,"
sometimes intermingled with "light vinaceous-drab." On some the markings
are well scattered over the entire surface while on others they are
concentrated at the large end, often forming a loose wreath. Only
occasionally do the spots assume the proportions of blotches. The
measurements of 50 eggs average 16.1 by 12.4 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =17.8= by 12.7, 16.8 by =13.1=, =14.8=
by 12.3, and 15.8 by =11.4= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--Nothing seems to have been recorded on the period of
incubation, which is performed by the female alone. Nor do we know
anything about the care of the young or their development.

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) says that the young Tennessee warbler in
juvenal plumage, in which the sexes are alike, is similar to the young
Nashville warbler in similar plumage but lacks the brownish cast and has
a faint transocular stripe. He describes it as "above dull grayish
olive-green, the rump brighter. Wings and tail clove-brown, the
primaries whitish edged, the secondaries, tertiaries and wing coverts
greenish edged with two yellowish white wing bands. Below grayish buff
rapidly fading when older to a greenish gray; abdomen and crissum pale
straw-yellow. Trace of ducky transocular streak."

The incomplete postjuvenal molt, involving the contour plumage and the
wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings or the tail, begins about
the middle of July. This produces the first winter plumage, in which
the young male is "above, bright olive-green, gray tinged on the pileum.
Below, olive-yellow darker on the flanks, the abdomen and crissum white.
Superciliary line and orbital ring buff. Transocular streak dull black."
The young female "differs from the male in having the lower parts more
washed with olive-green." Young and old birds are now practically

Dickey and van Rossem (1938) say that the prenuptial molt "begins in
late February and is not finished before about the middle of March. The
molt involves most of the anterior body plumage, but progresses so
slowly that this species never has the ragged 'pin-feathered' appearance
so often seen in _Dendroica aestiva_ at the spring molt." Dr. Dwight
noticed the beginning of this molt as early as January 14. He says it
"involves chiefly the head, chin and throat. The ashy gray cap is
acquired, the chin, throat, and superciliary line become white, the
throat is tinged with cream-buff and the transocular streak black. The
yellow tints of the feathers retained below are lost by wear." In the
female, this molt is less extensive than in the male, and "the crown
never becomes, even in later plumages, as gray as that of the male, but
always has a brown or greenish tinge."

Subsequent molts consist of a complete postnuptial in July and a partial
prenuptial molt in late winter and early spring as in the young bird.

_Food._--Bowdish and Philipp (1916) sent four stomachs of birds
collected in June to the U. S. Biological Survey for analysis. One of
these was empty. Of the other three, one contained 8 small caterpillars
(Tortricidae), 35 percent; dipterous fragments, 23 percent; a small
spider, 2 percent; and scalelike fragments (perhaps of some catkin), 40
percent. Another held a camponotid ant, 16 percent; at least 78 small
caterpillars (Tortricidae), 75 percent; a snail (_Vitrea hammoides_), 4
percent; and unidentified vegetable fragments, 5 percent. The other
contained 3 lampyrids (near _Podabrus_), 8 percent; a small coleopterous
(?) larva, 3 percent; about 15 small caterpillars (as above), 25
percent; a neuropterous insect (apparently a caddis fly), 50 percent; 2
small spiders, 14 percent; and a trace of unidentified vegetable matter.

Several observers have complained that Tennessee warblers do
considerable damage to grapes, and this is undoubtedly true. W. L.
McAtee (1904), while investigating the damage done by this and the Cape
May warbler, found that--

in the arbor under observation, which was a small one, scarcely a grape
and not a cluster was missed. The damage, however, was inconsiderable as
the birds did not commence to use their appropriated share of the crop
until the owner had taken all he desired. * * * Both species were
constantly busy catching insects on the vines, and on a walnut and some
appletrees near by. Frequently, however, they dashed into the vines and
thrust their bills quickly into a grape. Sometimes they withdrew them
quickly; again they poked around in the interior of the grape a little,
and always after these attacks, they lifted their heads as in drinking.
This action suggested a reason for piercing the grapes, that I am
satisfied is the true one, that is, the obtaining of liquid refreshment.

A supply of available drinking water for the birds, might help to
protect the grapes. And, as the warblers feed on insects that seriously
damage the grapevines, the good work they do may compensate for the
grapes that they damage. The stomach of one Tennessee warbler examined
by Mr. McAtee contained a _Typhlocyba comes_, an especial pest of the
grape, a destructive jassid or leafhopper, 6 caterpillars which were
doing all in their power to eat up the leaves remaining on the vines, 2
spiders, a bug (_Corizus_), a weevil, and one parasitic hymenopteron
(the only insect that was not harmful).

S. A. Forbes (1883) found that a stomach taken from an orchard infested
by canker-worms contained about 80 percent of these destructive larvae
and about 20 per cent beetles. Professor Aughey (1878) observed these
warblers catching young locusts in Nebraska. Clarence F. Smith adds, in
some notes sent to me, that "in the fall, during migration time,
Tennessee warblers often glean their food from dense patches of such
weeds as sunflower, goldenrod, and ragweed," and that "sumac, poison
ivy, and other berries are sometimes eaten in small quantity."

F. H. King (1883) has considerable to say about the damage done to
Delaware and Catawba grapes in Wisconsin; as soon as they are wounded,
they are attacked by ants, bees, and flies and soon destroyed. But he
thinks the service rendered more than compensates for the harm done. He
refers to the feeding habits of the Tennessee warbler as follows:

It is very dexterous in its movements, and obtains the greater part of
its food upon and among the terminal foliage of trees. Titmouse-like, it
often swings pendant from a leaf while it secures an insect which it has
discovered. Small insects of various kinds, not especially attractive to
larger birds, are destroyed by this species in large numbers; and its
slender, acute bill serves it much better in picking up these forms than
a heavier, more clumsy one could. * * * Of thirty-three specimens
examined, two had eaten two very small hymenoptera (probably parasitic);
seven, thirteen caterpillars; three, fifteen diptera; six, thirteen
beetles; three, forty-two plant-lice, among which were two specimens of
the corn plant-louse _Aphis maidis_ (?); three, thirty-five small
heteroptera, .09 of an inch long; and one, eleven insect eggs.

Alexander F. Skutch has sent me the following interesting notes on the
feeding habits of the Tennessee warbler in Central America: "I was
surprised to find last month [March] that these warblers were visiting
my feeding shelf on the guava tree in the yard. About the only food I
ever serve to the birds on this table is bananas and occasionally
plantains; and my chief guests are tanagers of about half a dozen
brilliant kinds, a few finches, honeycreepers, and wintering Baltimore
orioles. But the Tennessee warblers soon formed the habit of visiting
the table and sharing the food with the bigger resident birds.

"Some seemed to linger in the vicinity much of the day, making frequent
visits to the board and each time eating liberal portions of banana or
the somewhat harder ripe plantain. They were intolerant of each other,
and one individual would not let a second alight on the board until it
had finished its own meal, although there was plenty of room and plenty
of food for all. I have noticed also that the Tennessee warblers chase
each other as they forage among the trees in wintering flocks. I cannot
recall ever having seen any other wood warbler eat banana.

"Last November 14 a Tennessee warbler behaved most surprisingly. The
grass in the yard had grown very long, and I had it cut with a machette.
Late in the afternoon, after the usual rain, a lone Tennessee warbler
flew down on the fallen grass and began to hop over it, catching small

"It also entered the uncut grass, about a foot high, and disappeared
momentarily amidst it. Twice driven up by passing people, each time it
promptly returned to the grass. Its third visit to the cut grass was
longest. While I stood quietly watching, it hopped deliberately about,
much in the manner of a house wren, and gathered an abundant harvest
from the fallen herbage. Once it found a caterpillar about an inch long,
which it carefully bruised in its mandibles before swallowing it. The
warbler was amazingly bold, and hopped over the grass within a yard of
my feet, and allowed me to follow closely as it moved away. Early the
following morning, and again at the close of the day, the warbler
foraged over the lawn in the same fashion. In the evening, it continued
to creep slowly over the mown grass and after all other birds had
disappeared into their roosts, and the light was becoming too dim to see
it clearly."

_Behavior._--Much of the behavior of the Tennessee warbler has been
mentioned above, and there is little more to be said. It is a very close
sitter on its nest, when incubating, and has been caught there by
throwing a hat or a net over it; but, when flushed, it is rather shy
about returning to it, usually making its demonstrations of protest by
flitting about at a safe distance and nervously uttering a sharp _chip_.

The Prebles (1908) witnessed a rather remarkable flight behavior at Fort
Resolution, Mackenzie:

During the forenoon of June 25, an extremely windy day, we observed a
remarkable movement of these warblers. They came from the northward,
flying over the point of land on which the fort is built In loose flocks
of from 10 to 20 individuals. After passing the point, they either
struck out directly across the bay or skirted the shore, in either case
having to face a strong southeast wind. Some paused a few moments among
the low bushes on the point, but the slightest alarm started them off.
The flight lasted over two hours, and, during this time, upward of 300
birds were seen from our camp. Two specimens, a male and a female, were
collected. The ovaries of the female contained eggs only slightly

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following: "The song of the
Tennessee warbler is a rapid series of short, loud, unmusical notes. It
has been compared to the song of the chipping sparrow, but it varies
more in pitch, time, and loudness, and is distinctly in two or three
parts. To my ear it is much more like the chippering of a chimney swift.

"In 35 records of this song, the number of notes varies from 9 to 25,
the average being 17. Only one song has a true trill in it, that is,
notes so rapid that they cannot be counted. Each song is of either two
or three parts, each part composed of a series of notes on the same
pitch and in uniform rhythm. The parts differ from each other in pitch,
time, or loudness. In a number of songs, one of the parts is a
repetition of 2-note phrases. Loudness generally increases to the end of
the song, but sometimes the reverse is true. Some songs rise in pitch to
the end and others fall; my records are about evenly divided in this
matter. A typical three part song would be something like

    _tit it it it it it it pita pita pita pita pita
         chit chit chit  chit chit_.

"Pitch varies from G´´´ to E´´´´, or four and a half tones. Single songs
vary from half a tone to three and a half tones, averaging one and a
half. The length of songs varies from 1-4/5 to 3-1/5 seconds. An
individual bird may sing a dozen different variations of the song in a
short time. On the other hand, I have heard three birds in one tree
singing alternately, the songs of all three being exactly alike so far
as my ear could determine."

Francis H. Allen gives me his impression of the song as follows: "The
song bears some resemblance to that of the Nashville warbler, but is
easily distinguished. I have written it

   _wi-chip wi-chip wi-chip wi-chip, wi-chip wi-chip
         chip chip chip chip chip chip chip_.

The higher notes in the middle sometimes appear to be monosyllables, and
they are sometimes omitted. The series of _chips_ at the end are very
emphatic, and the last one is perhaps accented somewhat. All the notes
are staccato."

Various other renderings of the song have appeared in print, but they
all give the same impression of a variable, loud, striking song which,
once learned, can be easily recognized. The bird is a very persistent
singer rivaling the red-eyed vireo in this respect. Bowdish and Philipp
(1916) write: "As a basis for estimating the frequency of song
repetition, counts were kept on three singing birds for a period of 5
minutes each, with a result of 32, 36, and 22 songs, respectively,
within the period. In one instance, a bird was observed to sing while on
the wing, repeating the song twice in the course of a short flight."
Albert K. Brand (1938) found the pitch of the Tennessee warbler's song
to be well above the average, the approximate mean count being 6,600
vibrations per second, the highest note about 9,150 and the lowest
4,025; this compares with an approximate mean of 8,900 vibrations per
second for the black-poll warbler, and about 4,000 for the average
passerine song.

_Field marks._--The Tennessee warbler has no prominent wing-bars and no
very conspicuous field marks. It might be mistaken for one of the small
vireos, but its bill is much more slender and acute. The male has a gray
crown, a light line over the eye, and a dusky line through it; the upper
parts are bright olive-green and the under parts grayish white. The
female has a greener crown and more yellowish under parts. For more
details, see the descriptions of plumages.

_Fall._--The fall migration starts early in August, but is quite
prolonged, many birds lingering in the northern States until early in
October and in the southern States all through that month. During some
seasons and at certain places the Tennessee warbler is exceedingly
abundant, sometimes far outnumbering any other species, but it is very
variable in its abundance.

Mr. Trautman (1940) says that at Buckeye Lake, Ohio, "during some years
not more than 20 individuals could be recorded in a day in the southward
migration, nor more than a 100 in the season. In other years the bird
rivaled the Myrtle Warbler in numbers, and as many as 1,000 individuals
could be seen in a day and several thousands during a migration. * * *
Throughout the southward migration the species did not confine itself to
the upper sections of the taller trees as in spring, but was found in
almost equal numbers in smaller trees and brushy thickets, in bushes and
saplings along fence rows, and in weedy fields."

Professor Cooke (1904) says of the fall migration route: "The principal
line of migration is from the Mississippi Valley across the Gulf of
Mexico to Mexico and Central America. The eastern part of this route
probably extends from the southern end of the Alleghenies across
northwestern Florida to the coast of Yucatan and Honduras." A. H. Howell
(1932), however, gives several records for central and southern Florida,
and says: "In autumn, Weston reports a large migration on October 26 and
27, 1925, when 31 birds were killed at the lighthouse near Pensacola on
the two nights, and large numbers seen on the morning of October 26 in
vacant lots in the city."

Dickey and van Rossem (1938) say of the migration in El Salvador:

During the fall migration of 1925, Tennessee warblers arrived in the
vicinity of Divisadero on October 13. No advance guard, that is,
individuals arriving ahead of the main flights, was observed in this
case. On the above-mentioned date they were suddenly found to be present
in numbers, and from then on were common in every lowland or foothill
locality visited. In point of relative abundance this was by far the
most common warbler (resident or migratory) throughout the coastal plain
and in the foothills, but it was greatly outnumbered by _Dendroica
virens_ above 3,000 feet.

The manner of occurrence was usually as small flocks of six or eight or
even twenty or more birds. These combined with several other species to
make up larger flocks which worked ceaselessly through the crown foliage
of low, semi-open woodland. However, many were found even in the tall,
dense swamp forests along the coast and also in the oak woods on Mt.

_Winter._--Dr. A. F. Skutch has contributed the following account: "The
Tennessee warbler winters in Central America in vast numbers. Coming
later than many other members of the family, the first individuals
appear in mid-September; but the species is not abundant or widely
distributed until October. During the year I passed on the Sierra de
Tecpán in west-central Guatemala a single Tennessee warbler appeared in
the garden of the house, at 8,500 feet, on November 7 and despite frosty
nights lingered into December. On November 19, 1935, I saw one on the
Volcán Irazú in Costa Rica at 9,200 feet--the highest point at which I
have a record of the species. At the other extreme I found a few of
these adaptable birds among the low trees on the arid coast of El
Salvador in February and among the royal palms at Puerto Limón, on the
humid coast of Costa Rica, in March. But Tennessee warblers are most
abundant as winter residents at intermediate altitudes, chiefly between
2,000 and 6,000 feet above sea-level. From 3,000 to 5,000 feet they
often seem to be the most abundant of all birds during the period of
their sojourn. They travel in straggling flocks and form the nucleus of
many of the mixed companies of small, arboreal birds. At times 'myriads'
is the only term that seems apt to describe their multitudes.

"I think 'coffee warbler' would be a name far more appropriate than
Tennessee warbler for this plainly attired little bird; it was merely a
matter of chance that Alexander Wilson happened to discover the species
in Tennessee rather than at some other point on its long route from
Canada to Central America; but the warblers themselves manifest a
distinct partiality to the coffee plantations. The open groves formed by
the shade trees, whose crowns rarely touch each other, yet are never far
apart, seem to afford just the degree of woodland density that they
prefer. It matters not whether these trees are Grevilleas from Australia
with finely divided foliage, or Ingas with large, coarse, compound
leaves, or remnants of the original forest--a mixture of many kinds of
trees with many types of foliage: from Guatemala to Costa Rica the
Tennessee warblers swarm in the coffee plantations during the months of
the northern winter and are often the most numerous birds of any species
among the shade trees. Possibly they may at certain times and places be
as multitudinous in the high forest as in the plantations. Although I
have never found them so, the negative evidence must not be allowed to
weigh too heavily, for such small, inconspicuous birds, devoid of bold
recognition marks, are not easy to recognize among the tops of trees
over a hundred feet high.

"Tennessee warblers are fond of flowers, especially the clustered heads
of small florets of the Compositae and Mimosaceae, and of the introduced
Grevillea that sometimes shades the coffee plantations. They probe the
crowded flower clusters, perhaps seeking small insects lurking there
rather than nectar. The white, clustered stamens of the Inga--the most
generally used shade tree of the coffee plantations--are especially
attractive to them. Local movements within their winter range appear to
be controlled by the seasonal abundance of flowers. So, in the valley of
the Río Buena Vista in southern Costa Rica, at an altitude of about
3,000 feet, I found Tennessee warblers very abundant during December and
January. Here they flocked not only in the forest and among the shade
trees of the little coffee groves, but also in great numbers through the
second-growth thickets that filled so much of the valley, where at this
season there was a profusion of bushy composites with yellow or white
flower-heads, and of acacia-like shrubs (_Calliandra portoricensis_)
with long, clustered, white stamens. But during February, the third dry
month, the thickets became parched and flowered far more sparingly. Now
the Tennessee warblers rapidly declined in numbers, and before the end
of the month disappeared from the valley. During the following year,
which in its early quarter was far wetter, a number remained through
March, and a few well into April.

"Tennessee warblers pluck the tiny, white protein corpuscles from the
brown, velvety bases of the long petioles of the great-leafed Cecropia
trees, taking advantage of these dainty and apparently nutritious
tid-bits when the usual Azteca ants fail to colonize the hollow stems;
for only on trees free of ants does this ant-food accumulate in

"While the Tennessee warbler departs during February from some districts
where it is common in midwinter, it remains until April in regions where
the dry season is not severe. After the middle of April it is only
rarely seen in Central America; and there appears to be no record of its
occurrence in May."


_Range._--Canada to northern South America.

_Breeding range._--The Tennessee warbler breeds =north= to southwestern
Yukon (Burwash Landing and the Dezadiash River); southern Mackenzie
(Mackenzie River below Fort Wrigley, lower Grandin River, and Pike's
Portage); northeastern Manitoba (Churchill and York Factory); central
Quebec (Fort George, Lake Mistassini, and Mingan); and possibly southern
Labrador (Hawkes Bay). =East= to southeastern Labrador (Hawkes Bay);
central Newfoundland (Lamond and Gaff Topsail). =South= to central
Newfoundland (Gaff Topsail); Nova Scotia (Wolfville); southern New
Brunswick (Grand Manan); northern and central western Maine (Mount
Katahdin, Livermore, and Lake Umbagog); north-central New Hampshire
(Mount Washington); south-central Vermont (Rutland); possibly
northwestern Massachusetts (Hancock); southern New York (Slide
Mountain); southern Ontario (Ottawa, North Bay, and Biscotasing;
probably occasionally farther south); west-central Michigan (Duck Lane);
probably northern Wisconsin (Plum Lake); northern Minnesota (Tower, Cass
Lake, and Warren); southwestern Manitoba (Margaret and Aweme); central
Saskatchewan (Emma Lake; has been found in the breeding season at Indian
Head, Old Wives Creek, and Maple Creek); southern Alberta (Flagstaff,
Red Deer, and Banff); and south-central British Columbia (150 Mile House
and Kimquit). =West= to western British Columbia (Kimquit, Hazelton,
Telegraph Creek, and Atlin); and southwestern Yukon (Dezadiash River and
Burwash Landing).

_Winter range._--In winter the Tennessee warbler is found =north= to
central Guatemala (Volcán de Santa María, Cobán, and Gualán).
=East= to eastern Guatemala (Gualán); northeastern El Salvador
(Mount Cacaguatique); eastern Nicaragua (Río Escondido); eastern Costa
Rica (Puerto Limón); eastern Panamá (Barro Colorado and Permé); northern
Colombia (Santa Marta region); and northern Venezuela (Caracas). =South=
to northern Venezuela (Caracas and Mérida); and northwestern Colombia
(Concordia). =West= to western Colombia (Concordia and Antioquia);
Panamá (Paracaté); Costa Rica (El General and Liberia); El Salvador
(Puerto de Triunfo); and Guatemala (Tecpán and Volcán de Santa María).
It has also been found to the first of January (possibly delayed
migration) at Knoxville (1936) and at Nashville (1935), Tenn.; and one
wintered (1934-35) in Cameron County, Tex.

_Migration._--Late dates of departure from the winter home are:
Colombia--Miraflores, April 19. Costa Rica--San Isidro del General,
April 30. El Salvador--San Salvador, April 25. Guatemala--Livingston,
April 8. Chiapas--Tixtla Gutiérrez, May 8. Tamaulipas--Gómez Farías,
April 27.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Cuba--Habana, April 8.
Florida--Sandy Key, April 13. Georgia--Athens, April 13. District of
Columbia--Washington, May 2. West Virginia--French Creek, April 20.
Pennsylvania--McKeesport, April 27. New York--Corning, May 3.
Massachusetts--Northampton, May 8. Maine--Waterville, May 11. New
Brunswick--Petitcodiac, May 19. Quebec--Quebec, May 19. Louisiana--Avery
Island, April 6. Arkansas--Winslow, April 8. Tennessee--Memphis, April
9. Kentucky--Bowling Green, April 19. Indiana--Bloomington, April 12.
Ohio--Columbus, April 25. Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 21.
Ontario--Ottawa, May 12. Missouri--Columbia, April 22. Iowa--Sigourney,
April 25. Wisconsin--St. Croix Falls, April 25. Minnesota--Clarissa,
April 30. Kansas--Winfield, April 19. Nebraska--Red Cloud, April 18.
South Dakota--Vermillion, May 1. North Dakota--Fargo, May 1.
Manitoba--Margaret, May 3. Colorado--Estes Park, May 14.
Wyoming--Torrington, May 12. Montana--Great Falls, May 9.
Alberta--Belvedere, May 1. British Columbia--Carpenter Mountain,
Cariboo, May 15; Atlin, May 26.

Late dates of spring departure of transients are: Cuba--Habana, May 5.
Florida--Fort Myers, May 15. Alabama--Melville, May 3. Georgia--Athens,
May 7. North Carolina--Chapel Hill, May 3. Virginia--Falls Church, June
3. District of Columbia--Washington, June 3. Pennsylvania--Warren, May
30. New York--Rochester, June 6. Massachusetts--Beverly, June 3.
Vermont--Wells River, June 5. Louisiana--Shreveport, May 15.
Mississippi--Oxford, May 15. Arkansas--Delight, May 20.
Tennessee--Nashville, May 21. Illinois--Lake Forest, June 3.
Ohio--Toledo, June 5. Michigan--Houghton, June 7. Ontario--Toronto,
June 7. Missouri--Columbia, May 31. Iowa--Sioux City, June 6.
Wisconsin--Racine, June 4. Minnesota--St. Paul, June 1.
Kansas--Lawrence, May 24. Nebraska--Omaha, May 28. South
Dakota--Faulkton, June 5.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia--Atlin, July 26;
16-mile Lake, Cariboo, August 28. Alberta--Glenevis, September 13.
Montana--Fortine, September 11. Wyoming--Laramie, October 5.
Saskatchewan--Wiseton, September 29. Manitoba--Aweme, October 3. North
Dakota--Fargo, October 8. South Dakota--Arlington, October 8.
Nebraska--Lincoln, October 14. Kansas--Lawrence, October 22.
Oklahoma--Fort Sill, October 19. Minnesota--Hutchinson, October 11.
Wisconsin--Madison, October 19. Iowa--National, October 17.
Missouri--St. Louis, October 19. Michigan--Ann Arbor, October 30.
Ontario--Port Dover, October 10. Ohio--Columbus, October 31.
Illinois--Evanston, October 28. Tennessee--Nashville, October 23.
Arkansas--Jonesboro, October 19. Louisiana--New Orleans, November 8.
Mississippi--Gulfport, November 12. Quebec--Montreal, September 28.
Vermont--Wells River, September 29. Massachusetts--Harvard, October 1.
New York--Rhinebeck, October 14. Pennsylvania--Beaver, October 26.
District of Columbia--Washington, October 22. North Carolina--Mount
Mitchell, October 1. Georgia--Dalton, October 30, Alabama--Birmingham,
October 25. Florida--Pensacola, November 4. Cuba--Habana, November 10.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Wyoming--Laramie, August 28.
South Dakota--Lennox, August 30. Kansas--Topeka, August 29.
Wisconsin--Delavan, August 19. Illinois--Glen Ellyn, August 17.
Missouri--Monteer, August 20. Ohio--Toledo, August 19.
Tennessee--Knoxville, September 15. Arkansas--Hot Springs,
September 19. Louisiana--Monroe, September 14. Mississippi--Gulfport,
September 5. Vermont--Woodstock, August 22. Massachusetts--Lexington,
August 11. Pennsylvania--Jeffersonville, August 27. District of
Columbia--Washington, August 31. Virginia--Salem, August 23. North
Carolina--Blowing Rock, September 1. Georgia--Atlanta, September 9.
Alabama--Leighton, September 17. Florida--Fort Myers, September 20.
Cuba--Habana, October 13. Guatemala--Huehuetenango, September 11.
Nicaragua--Río Escondido, October 24. Costa Rica--San José, September
17. Panamá--New Culebra, October 24. Colombia--Santa Marta Region,
October 14.

_Casual records._--In 1898 an adult male of this species was found dead
at Narssag, Greenland. In Bermuda one was seen on March 2, 1914, and it
remained about six weeks.

_Egg dates._--Alberta: 6 records, June 1 to 16.

New Brunswick: 82 records, June 10 to July 10; 46 records, June 17 to
26, indicating the height of the season.

Quebec: 30 records, June 8 to 29; 21 records, June 17 to 27.




The type race of the orange-crowned warbler makes its summer home in
northwestern Canada and Alaska, from northern Manitoba to the Kowak
River, migrating in the fall southeastward through the United States to
its winter range in the southern Atlantic States and Gulf States, from
South Carolina and Florida to Louisiana. It was discovered and named by
Say (1823) early in May at Engineer Cantonment, on the Missouri River,
while on its northward migration.

The main migration route is through the Mississippi Valley,
northwestward in the spring and southeastward in the fall. It is very
rare in spring in the northern Atlantic States, though there are a few
records for even Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but there are many fall
records for this region, some of them remarkably late. It seems to be
rare at either season in Ohio; Milton B. Trautman (1940) gives only 10
records for Buckeye Lake, 5 in spring and 5 in fall. "Eight were noted
in lowlands, within 10 feet of the ground, in dense tangles of
blackberry bushes, rosebushes, or grapevines. The remaining 2, both fall
birds, were in rather well-drained, brushy, and weedy fields."

Dr. E. W. Nelson (1887) says of its status in Alaska:

Throughout the wooded region of Northern Alaska, from the British
boundary line west to the shores of Bering Sea, and from the Alaskan
range of mountains north within the Arctic Circle as far as the
tree-limit, this species is a rather common summer resident. It is known
along the shores of Bering Sea and Kotzebue Sound mainly as an autumn
migrant, as it straggles to the southward at the end of the breeding
season. Wherever bushes occur along the northern coast of the Territory
it is found at this season, and at Saint Michaels it was a common bird
each summer from the last of July up to about the middle of August,
after which it became rare and soon disappeared. I have never noted it
on the seacoast during the spring migration.

The Prebles (1908) found it well distributed and probably breeding
throughout the Athabaska-Mackenzie region. MacFarlane (1908) found it
breeding as far north as the Anderson River. Kennicott, according to
Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874), found it nesting about Great Slave
Lake. And Ernest Thompson Seton (1891) reported it as a common summer
resident and breeding near Carberry, Manitoba.

_Nesting._--Herbert Brandt (1943) found two nests of the eastern
orange-crowned warbler along the Yukon River in Alaska, about 20 miles
up from the sea, on July 1, 1924. His first nest contained five eggs,
advanced in incubation. The nest was near the bank of the river, "in a
bush 18 inches from the ground. The nest was loosely made of coarse
grass held together with bark strips, silvery plant down, and a few
feathers, one of which was a mottled feather of the Northern Varied
Thrush. Twenty feet away was another nest of the same species, which
held three young just hatched and two pipped eggs. * * * The
measurements of the two nests cited are: height, 2.25 to 3.00; outside
diameter, 3.5; inside diameter, 1.75; and depth of cup, 1.50 to 1.75

MacFarlane's (1908) nests, found on the Anderson River, "held from four
to six eggs each, and they were made of hay or grasses lined with deer
hair, feathers and finer grasses, and were usually placed in a shallow
cavity on the ground in the shade of a clump of dwarf willow or Labrador

Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) write:

The nests of this species, seen by Mr. Kennicott, were uniformly on the
ground, generally among clumps of low bushes, often in the side of a
bank, and usually hidden by the dry leaves among which they were placed.
He met with these nests in the middle of June in the vicinity of Great
Slave Lake. They were large for the size of the bird, having an external
diameter of four inches, and a height of two and a half, and appearing
as if made of two or three distinct fabrics, one within the other, of
nearly the same materials. The external portions of these nests were
composed almost entirely of long, coarse strips of bark loosely
interwoven with a few dry grasses and stems of plants. Within it is a
more elaborately interwoven structure of finer dry grasses and mosses.
These are softly and warmly lined with hair and fur of small animals.

E. A. Preble (1908) reported a nest found near Fort Resolution that "was
placed among thick grass on a sloping bank, and was composed outwardly
of grass and _Equisetum_ stems, with a layer of finer grass and with an
inner lining of hair."

Several nests have been reported from points farther south as being of
this warbler, but these are probably all referable to the Rocky Mountain
subspecies _Vermivora celata orestera_.

_Eggs._--The orange-crowned warbler lays from 4 to 6 eggs to a set,
probably most often 5. Dr. Brandt (1943) describes his Alaska eggs as
follows: "The egg is short ovate in outline, the surface moderately
glossy, and the shell delicate. The ground color is white and is
prominent because the markings obscure but one-fifth of its area. These
spots are very small, and are peppered over the broad end in an
ill-defined wreath, while over the smaller two-thirds the egg is almost
immaculate. In color the markings range from hydrangea red to ocher red;
and underlying these are a few weak spots of deep dull lavender."
Probably a series of the eggs would show all the variations shown in
eggs of the other races. The measurements of 50 eggs, including those of
the Rocky Mountain race, average 16.2 by 12.7 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =18.3= by 13.2, 17.0 by =14.2=, and
=14.7= by =12.2= millimeters (Harris).

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the juvenal plumage as "above,
brownish olive-green. Wings and tail olive-brown, broadly edged with
bright olive-green, the median and greater coverts tipped with buff.
Below, greenish buff paler and yellower on abdomen and crissum. Lores
and auriculars grayish buff."

The first winter plumage is acquired by a postjuvenal molt that involves
the contour plumage and the wing coverts but not the rest of the wings
or the tail. The sexes are alike in the juvenal plumage and much alike
in all plumages, except that the female is always duller; in her first
winter plumage the orange crown is lacking, and it is more or less
suppressed and sometimes wholly lacking in subsequent plumages. Dr.
Dwight (1900) describes the young male in first winter plumage as
"above, bright olive-green, mostly concealed on the pileum and nape with
pale mouse-gray edgings that blend into the green. The crown brownish
orange concealed by greenish feather tips. Wing coverts broadly edged
with dull olive-green, sometimes the greater coverts with faint whitish
tips. Below, pale olive-yellow, grayish on the chin and sides of neck
with very indistinct olive-gray streaking. A dusky anteorbital spot.
Lores, orbital ring and indistinct superciliary stripe mouse-gray."

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt,
"which involves chiefly the anterior part of the head and the chin. A
richer, half concealed, orange crown patch is acquired; the lores and
adjacent parts become grayer, the anteorbital spot darker. Wear makes
birds greener above and slightly yellower below. Young and old become
practically indistinguishable."

Subsequent molts consist of a complete postnuptial molt in summer and a
partial prenuptial molt in early spring, as described above. The adult
winter plumage "differs chiefly from first winter dress in possessing a
larger, more distinct crown patch," in the male, and more or less of it
in the female. "The color below is uniform and paler."

_Food._--Nothing seems to be known about the summer food of the
orange-crowned warbler, but it probably does not differ greatly from
that of the lutescent warbler, whose food has been more thoroughly
studied. In winter, it probably eats a fair proportion of berries and
other fruits, especially when it spends the winter somewhat farther
north than insects are to be found in abundance. It has also been known
to come to a feeding station and eat suet, peanut butter, and doughnuts.
In summer, it is probably almost wholly insectivorous. I can find no
evidence that it does any damage to grapes or other cultivated fruits on
its fall migration.

_Voice._--Ernest Thompson Seton (1891) says of an orange-crowned warbler
that he shot in Manitoba on May 12, 1883: "It was flitting about with
great activity among the poplar catkins, and, from time to time,
uttering a loud song like '_chip-e chip-e chip-e chip-e chip-e_.' On May
141 shot another Orange-crowned Warbler. Its song is much like that of
the Chipping Sparrow, but more musical and in a higher key. The bird is
extremely restless and lively, moving about continually among the
topmost twigs of the trees and uttering its little ditty about once in
every half minute."

Dr. Lynds Jones wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907): "The song is full and
strong, not very high pitched, and ends abruptly on a rising scale. My
note book renders it _chee chee chee chw' chw'_. The first three
syllables rapidly uttered, the last two more slowly. One heard late in
the season sang more nearly like Mr. Thompson's description: _chip-e,
chip-e, chip-e, chip-e, chip-e_, but with the first vowel changed to
_e_, thus eliminating what would appear to be a marked similarity
to the song of Chippy. Even in this song the ending is retained."

Francis H. Allen tells me that this warbler "has a _chip_ note
suggesting that of the tree sparrow but sharper."

_Field marks._--The orange-crowned warbler is a plain bird, with
practically no white markings in wings or tail, clad in dusky
olive-green, paler below, the underparts sometimes obscurely streaked
with olive-gray. The brownish orange crown patch is usually not
conspicuous, except in worn summer plumage, and lacking in young birds
and some females.

_Fall._--Orange-crowned warblers begin to leave northern Alaska in
August. Dr. Nelson (1887) says that it is rare about St. Michael after
the middle of the month, his latest date being August 24. The birds
obtained at that season were mainly young of the year. "In fall this
species frequents the vicinity of dwellings and native villages, where
it searches the crevices of the fences and log houses for insects."

The southeastward migration through central Canada and the United States
seems to be leisurely and quite prolonged, mainly in September and early
October, but often continuing into November. In Massachusetts, there are
numerous late fall records and some winter records. Horace W. Wright
(1917) has published an extensive paper on this subject and has
collected the following Massachusetts records: "Mr. Brewster's eleven
records lie within the period of autumn from September 23 to November
28. There are three for September, namely, the 23rd and the 30th twice;
none for October; and eight for November, namely, 7th, 9th, 10th, 17th,
20th-21st, 23rd-24th, 25th, and 28th. On two occasions two birds were
present, November 9 and 28. My own records run later. The earliest is
November 5, and the latest is January 23. They are November 5, 18, 20,
22, 28, 29, January 10, 19, 23." As Mr. Wright's records cover a
period of 8 years ending with January 1916, they indicate that the
orange-crowned warbler is not such a rare straggler in Massachusetts as
is generally supposed, and may be looked for almost any year in late
fall, or even winter. Mr. Forbush (1929) says of its occurrence there:

This warbler may be found almost anywhere in New England during the fall
migration wherever there are trees and shrubbery. In my experience the
bird has been either in the trees or in the tops of rather tall shrubs
and never very high, but like other members of the genus, though it
nests on the ground it is said to spend considerable time in the upper
parts of trees. It seems fond of the edges of woodlands near water, but
it also frequents open woods, orchards, fruit gardens and shade trees,
where amid the foliage it is very seldom noticed by the ordinary
observer. When approached it divides its attention between the observer
and its insect prey, which it hunts assiduously in the manner of others
of the genus. This warbler may be seen rarely in small companies, but
more often singly or in company with a small group of warblers of other

Dr. Winsor M. Tyler contributes the following: "The orange-crowned
warbler is a rare bird in New England, but we may look for it with some
hope of success in the very late autumn, through November and even into
December, during the soft, calm days of Indian Summer. As we walk along
over the dead leaves, wet from last night's frost, watching for the bird
in the shrubs by the roadside and in neglected pastures, almost the
only sound is the ticking of the falling leaves as they hit against the
branches; and mistiness is all about us. Several seasons may pass before
we hear its sharp _chip_, which stands out clearly from the gentle voice
of the late-lingering myrtle warblers, and see it flitting all alone
among the twigs, or on the ground--a lonely, dark, obscure little bird,
darker and more deliberate than the kinglets. It is strange that a
_Vermivora_ should linger here with winter so near at hand, but indeed
there is evidence which leads us to believe that a few of these warblers
may attempt to spend the winter in the southern part of this region, and
should any one of them withstand the cold season, it may furnish, when
it moves northwards towards its breeding ground, one of the exceedingly
rare instances of the occurrence of the bird on the northern Atlantic
coast in spring."

_Winter._--The principal winter home of the orange-crowned warbler seems
to be in the southern Atlantic and Gulf States. Of its occurrence in
coastal South Carolina, Arthur T. Wayne (1910) writes:

My earliest date for its arrival is October 30, 1897, but it is never
abundant until the middle of November, remaining until the second week
in April. It is capable of enduring intense cold. I have seen numbers of
these highly interesting birds near Charleston when the thermometer
ranged as low as 8° above zero and it is always more active and hence
oftener seen when the weather is cold and cloudy.

The Orange-crowned Warbler inhabits thickets of lavender and myrtle
bushes as well as oak scrub, and its center of abundance is on the coast
islands, the greater part of which is veritable jungle, in which it
particularly delights. Its only note while it sojourns here is a _chip_
or _cheep_ which very closely resembles the note of the Field Sparrow in

Dr. Chapman (1907) says: "During the winter I have found the
Orange-crowned Warbler a not uncommon inhabitant of the live-oaks in
middle Florida where its sharp _chip_ soon becomes recognizable. In
Mississippi, at this season, Allison (MS.) says that 'its favorite
haunts are usually wooded yards or parks, where the evergreen live oak
and magnolia can be found; I have seen it most commonly among the small
trees on the border of rich mixed woods, above an undergrowth of switch
cane. Coniferous trees it seems not to care for, though I have seen it
in the cypress swamps.'"


_Range._--From Alaska and northern Canada to Guatemala.

_Breeding range._--The orange-crowned warbler breeds =north= to
north-central Alaska (Kobuk River and Fort Yukon; a specimen has been
collected near Point Barrow); northern and western Mackenzie (Fort
McPherson, Fort Anderson, Lake Hardisty, and Hill Island Lake); northern
Saskatchewan (near Sand Point, Lake Athabaska); northeastern Manitoba
(Churchill and York Factory); and casually to northwestern Quebec
(Richmond Gulf). =East= to eastern and southern Manitoba (York Factory,
Winnipeg, and Aweme); southwestern Saskatchewan (East End and the
Cypress Hills); southeastern Alberta (Medicine Hat); western Montana
(Great Falls, Belt, and Bozeman); northwestern and southeastern Wyoming
(Yellowstone Park and Laramie); central Colorado (Denver, Colorado
Springs, Wet Mountains, and Fort Garland); central New Mexico (Taos
Mountains and Willis); and southwestern Texas (Guadalupe Mountains).
=South= to southwestern Texas (Guadalupe Mountains); south-central New
Mexico (Capitan Mountains); southeastern and northwestern Arizona
(Tucson, Santa Catalina Mountains, and north rim of the Grand Canyon);
southern Nevada (St. Thomas); and southern California (Panamint
Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, San Jacinto Mountains, Coronado
Beach, and San Clemente Island). =West= to the Pacific coast of
California (San Clemente and Santa Rosa Islands, Santa Barbara, San
Francisco, and Eureka); Oregon (Coos Bay and Tillamook); Washington
(Cape Disappointment, Stevens Prairie, and Neah Bay); British Columbia
(Nootka Sound and the Queen Charlotte Islands); and Alaska (Sitka,
Yakutat, Nushegak, Igiak Bay, St. Michael, and the Kobuk River).

The orange-crowned warbler has been recorded in migration in southern
Quebec as far east as Metamek and may occasionally breed. There is a
single breeding record for Minnesota at Cambridge.

_Winter range._--The orange-crowned warbler winters =north= to
northwestern Washington (Seattle); central California (Marysville,
Bigtrees, Atwater, and Victorville); southern Nevada (near Searchlight);
central and southeastern Arizona (Fort Verde, Phoenix, and Tucson);
southern Texas (El Paso, Fort Clark, and Boerne); Louisiana (Monroe);
rarely Tennessee (Memphis); central Georgia (Macon and Augusta); and
southern South Carolina (Charleston). It has also occurred occasionally
in winter as far north as Madison, Wis.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Canandaigua,
N. Y.; and Boston, Mass. =East= to South Carolina (Charleston); Georgia
(Savannah); and Florida (Jacksonville, Coconut Grove, and Royal Palm
Hammock). =South= to southern Florida (Royal Palm Hammock); the Gulf
coast of Florida (Ozona, Wakulla Beach, and Pensacola); Mississippi
(Biloxi); Louisiana (New Orleans); Texas (Rockport, Corpus Christi, and
Brownsville); Tamaulipas (Altamira); Veracruz (Orizaba); and Guatemala
(Chimuy and Tecpán). =West= to western Guatemala (Tecpán and Nenton);
Guerrero (Chilpancingo and Coyuca); Colima (Manzillo); Jalisco
(Mazatlán); Baja California (Cape San Lucas and Santa Margarita Island);
the Pacific coast of California (San Clemente and Santa Cruz Islands,
Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Eureka); western Oregon (Eugene); and
northwestern Washington (Tacoma and Seattle).

The above ranges apply to the species as a whole, of which four
subspecies or geographic races are recognized: the eastern
orange-crowned warbler (_V. c. celata_) breeds from northern Alaska,
northern Mackenzie and northern Manitoba south to central Alaska,
northern Alberta, and Saskatchewan to southern Manitoba; the Rocky
Mountain orange-crowned warbler (_V. c. orestera_) breeds from northern
British Columbia, central Alberta, and southwestern Saskatchewan
southward east of the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas; the lutescent
orange-crowned warbler (_V. c. lutescens_) breeds in the Pacific coast
region from Cook Inlet, Alaska, south to southern California and
eastward in California to the west slope of the Sierra Nevadas; the
dusky orange-crowned warbler (_V. c. sordida_) is resident on the
southern coastal islands of California and locally on the adjacent

_Migration._--The orange-crowned warbler is of rare occurrence in the
northeastern United States where it is reported more often in fall than
in spring.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Pennsylvania--Harrisburg, April 21.
New York--Rochester, April 27. Tennessee--Memphis, April 5.
Kentucky--Bowling Green, April 23. Ohio--Oberlin, April 14.
Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 26. Ontario--Queensborough, April 26.
Missouri--Columbia, April 20. Iowa--Sioux City, April 24.
Wisconsin--Madison, April 19. Minnesota--Red Wing, April 19.
Kansas--Lake Quivira, April 18. Nebraska--Fairbury, April 16. South
Dakota--Arlington, April 22. North Dakota--Fargo, April 22.
Manitoba--Winnipeg, April 25. Saskatchewan--East End, May 2.
Mackenzie--Simpson, May 21. New Mexico--Carlisle, April 28.
Colorado--Colorado Springs, April 27. Wyoming--Laramie, April 21.
Montana--Fortine, April 28. Alberta--Glenevis, April 28.
Oregon--Portland, March 26. Washington--Bellingham, March 2. British
Columbia--Courtney, March 24. Yukon--Carcross, April 26.
Alaska--Ketchikan, April 26; Tanana Crossing, May 18.

Late dates of spring departure of migrants are: Florida--Pensacola,
April 20. Georgia--Atlanta, April 29. South Carolina--Aiken, May 3.
North Carolina--Hendersonville, May 9. West Virginia--Wheeling, May 12.
New York--Canandaigua, May 27. Louisiana--New Orleans, April 3.
Mississippi--Biloxi, April 21. Tennessee--Knoxville, April 25.
Ohio--Austinburg, May 30. Ontario--Ottawa, May 28. Missouri--St.
Louis, May 8. Iowa--Des Moines, June 6. Wisconsin--Racine, May 24.
Michigan--Sault Ste. Marie, June 3. Minnesota--Rochester, May 28.
Texas--Lytle, May 19. Oklahoma--Copan, May 2. Kansas--Onaga, May 22.
Nebraska--Neligh, May 13. South Dakota--Faulkton, June 1. North
Dakota--Fargo, June 6.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska--Craig, September 24.
British Columbia--Atlin, September 9; Okanagan Landing, October 23.
Washington--Semiahmoo, October 8. Oregon--Prospect, October 8.
Alberta--Glenevis, October 5. Montana--Fort Keogh, September 22.
Wyoming--Laramie, October 25. Utah--St. George, October 12. New
Mexico--Gallinas Mountains, October 9. Saskatchewan--East End, September
16. Manitoba--Aweme, October 14. North Dakota--Fargo, October 19. South
Dakota--Aberdeen, October 14. Nebraska--Hastings, October 8.
Kansas--Wichita, November 2. Oklahoma--Norman, October 19.
Minnesota--Minneapolis, October 20. Wisconsin--Milwaukee, October 26.
Iowa--Giard, October 19. Ontario--Kingston, October 6. Michigan--Ann
Arbor, November 1. Ohio--Toledo, October 27. Illinois--La Grange,
October 28. Tennessee--Dover, October 26. Massachusetts--Lynn, November
30. New York--Rochester, October 9. Pennsylvania--Harrisburg, November
19 (bird was banded).

Early dates of fall arrival are: North Dakota--Ryder, August 18. South
Dakota--Faulkton, August 23. Nebraska--Hastings, September 16.
Texas--Lytle, August 29. Minnesota--Lanesboro, August 3. Wisconsin--New
London, August 24. Iowa--National, August 28. Michigan--Blaney, August
19. Illinois--Chicago, August 28. Ontario--Ottawa, September 7.
Ohio--Columbus, September 9. Tennessee--Clarksville, October 16.
Arkansas--Hot Springs, September 11. Louisiana--New Iberia, November 19.
Mississippi--Saucier, October 12. Massachusetts--Concord, October 2.
Pennsylvania--Erie, September 15. West Virginia--Bethany, October 20.
Georgia--Athens, October 12. South Carolina--Frogmore, September 20.
Florida--Key West, October 5.

_Banding._--Two returns of banded orange-crowned warblers seem worth
recording. One banded at Mellette, S. Dak., on September 21, 1939, was
found, probably dead, on December 13, 1940 at Webster, Wis. Another
banded at Eagle Rock, Calif., on April 3, 1940, was found dead, on June
21, 1940 at Wards Cove, Alaska.

_Casual record._--An immature orange-crowned warbler was collected
October 14, 1906, at Lichtenfels, Greenland.

_Egg dates._--Alaska: 10 records, June 8 to July 2.

California: 71 records, April 3 to June 24; 36 records, April 20 to May
12, indicating the height of the season.

Washington: 17 records, April 25 to June 25; 9 records, May 13 to 24.




Although recognized and described by Dr. Harry C. Oberholser (1905) over
45 years ago, this well-marked subspecies was not accepted by the
Committee for addition to the A. O. U. Check-List until comparatively

It is described as "similar to _Vermivora celata celata_, but larger and
much more yellowish, both above and below." Dr. Oberholser (1905) adds
the following remarks: "This new form has usually been included with _V.
celata celata_, but breeding specimens recently obtained, principally
from New Mexico and British Columbia, indicate its much closer
relationship, in all respects except size, with the west coast forms.
From _Vermivora celata lutescens_ it may, however, readily be
distinguished by its duller, less yellowish color, both above and below,
and by its much greater size."

He gives its geographical range as: "Mountains of New Mexico, Arizona,
and southeastern California to British Columbia; in migration to
Minnesota and Pennsylvania, south to Texas, and Mexico to Lower
California, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Puebla."

_Nesting._--Stanley G. Jewett (1934) reports a nest within the range of
this race, of which he writes:

On June 18, 1934, a nest of this species was found at 6,000 feet
altitude on Hart Mountain, Lake County, Oregon. The location was a
rather dense mixed grove of aspen, alder, willow, and yellow pine. The
female was on the nest, which was placed on the ground well under a
small leaning willow stump, about five inches in diameter, that had been
cut off about a foot above the ground, leaving the stump leaning at an
angle of about 45 degrees. Weeds had grown over the stump forming a
loose canopy of vegetation which protected the nest and sitting bird
from being easily seen. The nest was composed of coarse dry strips of
willow bark, lined with porcupine hairs. It measured, inside, 50 mm. in
width and 33 mm. in depth.

A nest and four eggs of this species, probably _orestera_, is in the
Thayer collection in Cambridge; it was collected at Banff, Alberta, on
June 9, 1902. The nest was said to be "in root of a shrub, a few inches
above the ground". It is compactly made of the finest larch twigs,
yellow birch bark, fine shreds of coarse weed stems, other fine plant
fibers and fine grasses, fine strips of inner bark, and a little plant
down; it is lined with finer pieces of the same materials and some black
and white hairs. The outside diameter is about 3 inches, and the height
about 2 inches; inside, it measures about 1-3/4 inches in diameter and
1-1/4 inches in depth. A set of three eggs in my collection was taken
May 14, 1909, near Glacier National Park, Mont.; the nest was on the
ground, concealed by grass on a hillside. The measurements of the eggs
of this race, which are indistinguishable from those of other races of
the species, are included in those of the type race.




This brightly colored race of the orange-crowned warbler group is widely
distributed during the breeding season along the Pacific coast regions
from southern Alaska to southern California and migrates in the fall
southward to Baja California, western Mexico, and Guatemala. It differs
from typical _celata_ in being more brightly olive-green above and
distinctly yellow below; in strong light it seems to be a yellow rather
than an olive bird.

Dr. Walter K. Fisher sent the following sketch of it in its California
haunts to Dr. Chapman (1907):

Chaparral hillsides and brushy open woods are the favorite haunts of the
Lutescent Warbler. Its nest is built on or near the ground, usually in a
bramble tangle or under a rooty bank, and the bird itself hunts near the
ground, flitting here and there through the miniature jungle of wild
lilacs, baccharis and hazel bushes. Its dull greenish color harmonizes
with the dusty summer foliage of our California chaparral, and with the
fallen leaves and tangle of stems that constitute its normal background.
It impresses one chiefly by its lack of any distinctive markings, and
the young of the year, particularly, approach that tint which has been
facetiously called "museum color."

Ordinarily the crown-patch is invisible as the little fellow fidgets
among the undergrowth, but at a distance of 3 feet Mr. W. L. Finley was
able to distinguish it when the bird ruffled its feathers in alarm.

In May, 1911, while I was waiting in Seattle, Wash., to take ship to the
Aleutian Islands with R. H. Beck and Dr. Alexander Wetmore, we were
shown by Samuel F. Rathbun the haunts of the lutescent orange-crowned
warbler around Seattle. He says that it is one of the more common
warblers of the region and is widely distributed. It favors small
deciduous growths in more or less open situations, with or without
accompanying evergreens. "It is also partial to the edges of old
clearings fringed with a deciduous growth." He says that it is an early
migrant, arriving early in April or sometimes in the latter part of
March, and departing in September.

On Mount Rainier, according to Taylor and Shaw (1927), it was--

fairly common in the Hudsonian Zone (4,500 feet to 6,500 feet); occurs
also, but more rarely, in the Canadian Zone between 3,500 and 4,500
feet. * * * The lutescent warbler was commonly found in the mountain
ash, huckleberry, azalea, and willow brush, principally in the open
meadow country of the subalpine parks. Warm and sunny south-facing
slopes were favorite places of resort, especially after a period of
cold or fog. Occasionally the bird was found in patches of Sitka
valerian; at other times in the lower branches of alpine firs. His
summer foraging seems for the most part to be done within 10 feet of the
ground, though in the fall, when migrating, he apparently takes to the
tree tops.

_Nesting._--On May 7, 1911, Samuel F. Rathbun took us over to Mercer
Island in Lake Washington. At that time, this interesting island was
heavily forested in some places with a virgin growth of tall firs, in
which we saw the sooty grouse and heard it hooting, later finding its
nest in an open clearing. While walking through another open space among
some scattered groups of small fir trees, Mr. Beck flushed a lutescent
warbler from her nest in a hummock covered with the tangled fronds of
dead brakes (_Pteridium aquilinum_). The nest was so well concealed in
the mass of dead ferns that we had difficulty in finding it. It was made
of dead grasses and leaves, deeply imbedded in the moss of the hummock,
and was lined with finer grasses and hairs. It held four fresh eggs.
Three days later, Dr. Wetmore took a set of five fresh eggs at Redmond.
This nest was located beside a woodland path at the edge of a swamp; it
was well hidden on the ground, under a stick that was leaning against a
log. It was made of similar materials and was lined with white

Mr. Rathbun mentions three nests (MS.), found in that same vicinity; one
was well hidden under some fallen dead brakes; and the other two were
beautifully concealed in the centers of small huckleberry bushes.

William L. Finley (1904b) records six Oregon nests. The first "was
tucked up under some dry ferns in the bank of a little hollow where a
tree had been uprooted. * * * The second nest was on a hillside under a
fir tree, placed on the ground in a tangle of grass and briar." Another
was "in a sloping bank just beside a woodland path. A fourth nest was
tucked under the overhanging grasses and leaves in an old railroad cut."
He found two nests in bushes above ground. He saw a female carrying
"food into the thick foliage of an arrow-wood bush. A cluster of twigs
often sprouts out near the upper end of the branch and here, in the
fall, the leaves collect in a thick bunch. In one of these bunches, 3
feet from the ground, the warbler had tunneled out the dry leaves and
snugly fitted in her nest making a dark and well-protected home." He
found another nest 2 feet up in a bush, within a few yards of the ocean

Henry W. Carriger, of Sonoma, Calif., (1899) mentions two more elevated
nests of the lutescent warbler. He writes:

On May 31, 1897, I found a nest of the Lutescent Warbler placed three
feet from the ground in a bunch of vines. * * * On May 3, 1899, * * * I
flushed a bird from a nest in an oak tree, and was surprised to see it
was a Lutescent Warbler. The nest was six feet from the ground and three
feet from the trunk of the tree. A horizontal limb branched out from
the tree and a small branch stuck up from it for about eight inches, and
over this was a great quantity of Spanish moss (_Ramalina retiformis_),
which fell over the horizontal limb. The nest is quite bulky, composed
of leaves, grass and bark strips, lined with hair and fine grass, and
was partially supported by both limbs and the moss, which is all about
it and which forms quite a cover for the eggs.

_Eggs._--The lutescent warbler lays from 3 to 6 eggs to a set, probably
most often 4. These are ovate or short ovate and are practically
lusterless. The white or creamy white ground color is speckled, spotted
or occasionally blotched with shades of reddish brown, such as "russet,"
"Mars brown," "chestnut," and "auburn," intermingled with underlying
shades of "light brownish drab." The markings are usually concentrated
at the large end, but some eggs are speckled more or less evenly over
the entire surface. Small scrawls of blackish brown may be found on some
of the more heavily marked types. The measurements of 50 eggs average
16.2 by 12.6 millimeters: the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=17.7= by 12.8, 16.8 by =13.5=, =14.7= by 12.2, and 15.9 by =11.1=
millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--We seem to have no information on incubation or on the care
and development of the young.

_Plumages._--The molts and plumages are evidently similar to those of
the orange-crowned warbler, though the lutescent is, of course,
decidedly more yellow in all plumages.

_Food._--Prof. Beal (1907) examined the contents of the stomachs of 65
California specimens of this species.

Less than 9 percent of the food is vegetable matter, and is made up of
3 percent of fruit and rather more than 5 percent of various substances,
such as leaf galls, seeds, and rubbish. Fruit was found in only a few
stomachs, but the percentage in each was considerable; figs were the
only variety identified. [Of the 91 percent animal matter,] Hemiptera
are the largest item and amount to over 25 percent, mostly leaf-bugs,
leaf-hoppers, plant-lice, and scales. Plant-lice were found in only one
stomach and scales in 5, of which 3 contained the black olive species.
Beetles amount to about 19 percent of the food, and with the exception
of a few Coccinellidae are of harmful families, among which are a number
of weevils. * * * Caterpillars are eaten rather irregularly, though they
aggregate 24 percent for the year. Stomachs collected in several months
contained none, while in others they amounted to more than half of the
food. * * * Hymenoptera amount nearly to 15 percent, and are mostly
small wasps, though some ants are eaten.

Other items were flies, less than 1 percent, and spiders, 7 percent. W.
L. McAtee (1912) says that this is one of only two wood warblers known
to prey upon codling moths. "The lutescent warbler shows a strong liking
for the pupae, two taken in California in May having eaten 10 and 18
pupae, respectively."

_Behavior._--Mrs. Wheelock (1904) writes thus of its feeding activities:
"All day long he flits about through the oak trees, leaning away over
the tips of the boughs to investigate a spray of leaves, or stretching
up his pretty head to reach a blossom just above him; now clinging head
downward underneath a spray, or hovering under the yellow tassels as a
bee hovers beneath a flower."

_Voice._--Samuel F. Rathbun (MS.) gives me his impression of the song of
the lutescent warbler as follows: "Its song is a succession of trilling
notes on a slightly rising then falling key, the latter more lightly
given and faster. There is an apparent ease in this song that is
suggestive of airiness, and, although simple in construction, it is
pleasing to hear and further bears the stamp of distinctiveness."

_Fall._--The fall migration is southward to southern California, western
Mexico, and Guatemala. The movement is apparently leisurely and quite
prolonged, for the earliest birds begin leaving western Washington in
August and September, and Theed Pearse gives me two October dates for
Vancouver Island, with his latest date November 1. Taylor and Shaw
(1927) write of the fall movement on Mount Rainier as follows:

The postnuptial scatter movement was in full swing by the middle of
August. At this time the lutescent warbler was often found in the same
flocks with Shufeldt juncos, western golden-crowned kinglets, or
chestnut-backed chickadees. It is not unlikely that there is some good
reason for this flocking, aside from the companionship involved. The
warblers and the juncos, kinglets, or chickadees probably do not compete
for food as would one warbler with another of the same species. The
individual warbler, attached to a flock of kinglets, let us say, may be
the more surely guided to available food. Then, too, differences in
alertness of the two or more species concerned may afford greater
protection to each than would be the case if they remained separate.

Robert Ridgway (1877) met with these warblers in large numbers in

In the fall, the thickets and lower shrubbery along the streams,
particularly those of the lower cañons, would fairly swarm with them
during the early portion of the mornings, as they busily sought their
food, in company with various insectivorous birds, especially the
Black-capped Green Warbler (_Myiodioctes pusillus_) and Swainson's Vireo
(_Vireosylvia swainsoni_). At such times they uttered frequently their
sharp note of chip. The brightly-colored specimens representing _H.
lutescens_ were prevalent in the western depression of the Basin, but
were not observed eastward of the upper portion of the Valley of the
Humboldt, nor at any locality during the summer; and wherever found,
were associated with individuals of the other form, which is the only
one found breeding on the mountains. It is therefore inferred that all
these individuals were migrants from the northern Pacific Coast region
and the Sierra Nevada, while those of _H. celata_ proper were from the
higher portions of the more eastern mountains, or from farther northward
in the Rocky Mountain ranges, full-fledged young birds being numerous in
the high aspen woods of the Wasatch Mountains in July and August.





The subspecific characters of this warbler, as given by the original
describer, C. H. Townsend (1890), are: "Adult male: Entire plumage
decidedly darker than _H. celata lutescens_. Feet and bill larger; wings
slightly shorter. There is an appearance of grayness about the upper
plumage, owing to a leaden tinge on ends of feathers. Throat and under
parts slightly streaked."

The principal breeding range of the dusky warbler is on the Santa
Barbara Islands off the coast of southern California, but it has also
been known to breed in San Diego and probably breeds farther south in
Baja California, and on the Todos Santos Islands, off that coast.

The dusky orange-crowned warbler was discovered by Dr. Townsend on San
Clemente Island January 25, 1889, but it does not seem to be so common
there as on some of the other islands. According to A. Brazier Howell
(1917) it has been reported from all of the channel islands except San
Nicholas, which is too barren for it; and its occurrence on Santa
Barbara Island is doubtful, as this precipitous island is not suited for
it. It is probably commonest on Santa Catalina Island, "in the darker
canyons and on the wooded hillsides."

J. Stuart Rowley writes to me: "I found that the weekend nearest the
15th of April was the ideal time to hunt nests of this warbler on
Catalina Island, and after much hiking about this island I finally
located a little ravine, only about a mile or so out of the town of
Avalon, where these warblers nested abundantly, due to the little
trickle of surface water in the bottom of the ravine. Since most of the
ravines here are dry, this one was 'made to order' and I enjoyed the
chance to find many nests in the short time allotted to me. Around the
middle of April this little ravine fairly trilled with the songs of many
males, who were constantly pursuing trespassing individuals out of their
nesting territories, only to return and continue their melodic songs."

_Nesting._--Of its nesting habits, J. Stuart Rowley continues: "I have
found dusky warblers nesting in every conceivable sort of place, ranging
from those placed on the ground in the grass to those placed 15 feet up
in toyon trees. The usual nesting site here seems to be in a small toyon
bush, rather well concealed, but not over 2 to 3 feet from the ground;
the nests are made of fibres and grasses and, although nicely cupped
and lined, are rather bulky affairs externally for a warbler to build."
Howell (1917) writes:

The usual nesting site of the Lutescent Warbler is on the ground, but I
have never heard of _sordida_ building in such a situation. On the
smaller barren islands, such as the Coronados and Todos Santos (where it
is common), they build in a bush or tangle of vines, a foot or so above
the ground, and the nest is always mainly constructed of gray moss,
where this is to be had, lined with a little fine grass. On the larger
islands, where there are good-sized trees, the site chosen may be a
thicket of vines several feet above the bed of a stream, a small shrub,
say four feet up, or perhaps an oak as much as fifteen feet above the
ground. In such case the nest is quite substantially made of leaves,
twigs, bark, rootlets, and often a little sheep wool. Three or four eggs
constitute a set, and at least two broods of young are raised each year.

A most unusual nesting site for a dusky warbler is described by Clinton
G. Abbott (1926). It was--

a decorative fern basket inside a small lath house adjoining the home of
Mrs. A. P. Johnson, Jr., at 2470 C Street, San Diego. * * * Her house is
in one of the older residential sections of the city, known as Golden
Hill. The homes here are large and surrounded by more or less extensive
grounds, but the whole aspect is distinctly urban, with streets
everywhere paved. Broadway, with double trolley tracks, is only one
block away. The lath house, sixteen by twenty-four feet in size, was
filled with a luxuriant growth of cultivated plants. A rectangular path
within was marked at its corners by four wire fern baskets suspended
about four feet from the ground. In one of these were the remains of the
two previous years' nests, and in the basket diagonally opposite was the
inhabited nest, which contained three eggs. Although the eggs were
manifestly not fresh, there was no bird about and they seemed cool to my
touch. I waited about for fully ten minutes and was beginning to fear
that disaster had overtaken the home, when I heard a low, scolding note
overhead. Then down from between the slats hopped the dainty little
warbler, and, with no concern whatsoever, she took her place upon the
eggs, although I was standing in full view close by. [The nest was]
cosily placed in the moss at the base of the ferns.

We soon discovered that not only was the bird practically fearless in
the ordinary sense, but that she would even allow us to touch her
without leaving her nest. She would permit us to raise her from her eggs
with no greater protest than a pecking at the intruding finger. If she
was not sitting sufficiently broadside for a good photograph, it was
possible to arrange her the way we wanted her! Sometimes, if our
familiarity was beyond her patience, she would merely hop among the
foliage behind the nest, wait there for a few minutes, and then nestle
back on her eggs.

_Eggs._--Three eggs seem to constitute the average set for the dusky
warbler, with occasionally only two or as many as four. Mr. Rowley tells
me that, out of at least two dozen nests examined, he found only two
sets of four; one nest had only one newly hatched young, and two or
three nests held two well-incubated eggs. The eggs are apparently
indistinguishable from those of the mainland races. The measurements of
27 eggs average 17.0 by 13.2 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =18.5= by 13.5, 17.6 by =14.0=, and =16.0= by =12.7=

_Winter._--Many of the dusky warblers, perhaps most of them, desert the
islands in the fall when they become dry and uninviting, for the winter
spreading widely on the mainland as far north as the San Francisco Bay
region and inland to Merced County. Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1898) says:
"This subspecies appears in the vicinity of Pasadena in the oak regions
and along the arroyos in large numbers during August, and even by the
middle of July. Remains in diminishing numbers through the winter; the
latest specimen noted in the spring was secured by me, Feb. 29 ('96)."



PLATES 16, 17


Alexander Wilson discovered this species near Nashville, Tenn., and gave
it the name Nashville warbler. Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) say of
its early history: "For a long while our older naturalists regarded it
as a very rare species, and knew nothing as to its habits or
distribution. Wilson, who first met with it in 1811, never found more
than three specimens, which he procured near Nashville, Tenn. Audubon
only met with three or four, and these he obtained in Louisiana and
Kentucky. These and a few others in Titian Peale's collection, supposed
to have been obtained in Pennsylvania, were all he ever saw. Mr. Nuttall
at first regarded it as very rare, and as a Southern species."

This is not strange when we stop to consider that this bird is more or
less irregular in its occurrence, apparently fluctuating in numbers in
different localities and perhaps choosing different routes of migration.
Its record here in eastern Massachusetts illustrates this point. Thomas
Nuttall never saw the bird while he lived in Cambridge, from 1825 to
1834. Dr. Samuel Cabot, who lived there from 1832 to 1836, told William
Brewster (1906) that he was sure that it did not occur regularly in
eastern Massachusetts at that time. According to Brewster:

Soon afterwards a few birds began to appear every season. They increased
in numbers, gradually but steadily, until they had become so common that
in 1842 he obtained ten specimens in the course of a single morning.

In 1868, and for some fifteen years later, I found Nashville Warblers
breeding rather numerously in Waltham, Lexington, Arlington and Belmont,
usually in dry and somewhat barren tracts sparsely covered with gray
birches, oaks or red cedars, or with scattered pitch pines. A few birds
continue to occupy certain of these stations, but in all of the towns
just mentioned the Nashville Warbler is less common and decidedly less
generally distributed in summer now than it was twenty-five or thirty
years ago.

Forbush (1929) found it "more common in eastern Massachusetts in the
latter quarter of the last century than it is today." And my own
experience has been similar; prior to 1900 we used to consider the
Nashville Warbler a common bird on migrations and even found it breeding
in Bristol County in 1892; but we have seen very little of it since the
turn of the century.

_Spring._--From its winter home in Mexico and Central America, the
eastern Nashville warbler seems to migrate mainly northeastward through
Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley and then west of the Alleghenies
to New England and northward up the central valleys. Some individuals
apparently fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico, but it is very rare
in Louisiana, for which Dr. Oberholser (1938) gives only three records.
It seems to be very rare, or entirely unknown, in any of the
southeastern States, east of Louisiana and south of Virginia, except in
some of the mountains.

According to Dr. Chapman's (1907) tables, about 18 days elapse between
the average date of the first arrival of the species in Missouri and
that of its first appearance in Minnesota, and it seems to require
exactly the same time to migrate from West Virginia to New Brunswick.

Dr. Dayton Stoner (1932) says of its migration through the Oneida Lake
region, N. Y.:

The Nashville warbler here seems to prefer coppices along the edges of
woodland such as young aspen and maple and elm thickets and other small
growth that springs up in cut-over and burned-over areas. In such
situations I have found it singing persistently in late May and the
first few days in June. This warbler and the chestnut-sided are often
found together. However, it does not confine its activities to thickets,
for it not infrequently visits woodlands of tall elm, maple, beech and
other deciduous trees, as well as mixed forest and the vegetation in
door-yards. The flowering currant is in full bloom at the time this bird
reaches the height of its abundance and I have seen it visiting such
shrubbery during the first part of May.

In Massachusetts in May, according to Forbush (1929), "among its
favorite haunts are the bushy edges of woodlands, whether along roads,
railroads or streams, or about ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps or open
fields. It may often be found among willows, alders, birches or poplars.
Old neglected fields and pastures, with scattered growths of birches and
bushes, are favorite feeding grounds, but the bird also visits orchards,
gardens and shade trees, even in city parks. It may be found on dry
lands where scattered pitch pines grow, and on moist lands with rank

W. E. Clyde Todd (1940) says of the migration in western Pennsylvania:
"The Nashville Warbler appears during the flood tide of the warbler
migration in both spring and fall and is sometimes inordinately
abundant. * * *

"Almost every spring there is a day or two of decided movement, when the
species is very common and on occasion exceedingly abundant. On May 3,
1901, I witnessed a remarkable flight at Beaver. That morning the woods
everywhere were full of Nashville warblers, to the exclusion of almost
all other kinds. I counted a dozen in one tree. They kept mostly in the
treetops and were singing very little."

These warblers are also sometimes abundant in Ohio, for Milton B.
Trautman (1940) noted as many as 80 individuals on May 15, 1932, at
Buckeye Lake.

_Nesting._--The nesting haunts of the eastern Nashville warbler are
quite varied, and habitats similar to some of those frequented on the
spring migration seem to be suitable for breeding grounds. But the nest
is always placed on the ground and generally is well hidden. Gerald
Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907):

Birch Warbler would be a good name for this bird as it appears in the
Monadnock region where it breeds abundantly. For here it is nowhere so
common as in abandoned fields and mountain pastures half smothered by
small gray birches. From the airy upper story of these low and often
dense birch copses the Nashvilles sing; and among the club-mosses and
ferns, and the hardhacks and other scrubby brushes at their bases and
around their borders, the Nashvilles build their nests. But such is
merely their most characteristic home. * * * Dark spruce woods they do
not favor, nor big, mixed virgin timber; but even in these places, one
is likely to find them wherever there is a little "oasis" of sunlight
and smaller deciduous growth. They are fairly common among the scanty
spruces, mountain ashes, and white birches of the rocky ridge of Mt.
Monadnock, almost to the top--3,169 feet.

F. H. Kennard records in his notes two nests found near Lancaster, N.H.
One was among some dead weeds on a mossy hummock in a pasture; the other
was in a swamp, at the base of and under a clump of alders beside a
path. Miss Cordelia J. Stanwood (1910), of Ellsworth, Maine, writes:

When a growth of evergreens--pine, fir, spruce and hemlock--is cut, it
is succeeded by a growth of hard wood--gray, white and yellow birches,
maple, poplar, beech, cherry and larch--and vice versa. As the woodland
is cut in strips, there are always these growths in juxtaposition.
Though the nest of the Nashville is always placed among the gray
birches, the inevitable strip of evergreen woodland is near at hand, and
a swale not far away.

The nest of the Nashville is sometimes placed in comparatively low
ground (that is, compared with its immediate surroundings), in soft
green moss under an apology for a shrub, again in the side of a knoll
covered with bird wheat (hair-cap) moss, or at other times in an open
space in the woodlands under a stump, or tent-like mass of grass, or a
clump of gray birch saplings. Around the top is usually woven a rim of
coarse, soft, green moss; sometimes dried boulder fern or bracken is
added. The side coming against the stump or overhanging moss lacks this
foundation. The nest is lined with fine hay, if it abounds in the
neighborhood, or pine needles if they are nearer at hand. Sometimes both
are used. The red fruit stems of bird wheat moss and rabbit's hair are
often employed. One or two birds have preferred some black, hair-like
vegetable fibre for lining matter, one bird, horse hair.

Ora W. Knight (1908) mentions a Maine nest that "was situated on the
ground on an open wooded hillside at the foot of and between two small
spruce trees, and was well imbedded in the moss. It measures in depth
outside one and three-fourths inches, and inside one inch, the diameter
outside was three and a quarter. * * * Nest building begins soon after
the birds have arrived, and presumably the female does most of the work,
while the male perches in a near by sapling and sings. * * * It takes
from seven to nine days to build the nest, and on its completion an egg
is laid each day until the set is completed. The eggs are usually laid
between six and ten in the morning."

A nest found by Henry Mousley (1918) near Hatley, Quebec, "was located
at the foot of a spirea bush on a little mound, well sunk into the
surrounding hair-cap moss (_Polytrichum commune_) and dwarf cornel or
bunchberry (_Cornus canadensis_) of which the mound was carpeted. It was
entirely hidden from sight and would never have been found had I not
flushed the female from her set of five eggs."

The only local nest of which we have any record was found by Owen Durfee
(MS.) in Rehoboth, Mass., on June 2, 1892. It was only partially
concealed among some very low bushes, grass, and other herbage near the
foot of a small hill in neglected pasture land; the hill had a scattered
growth of oak and beech saplings and had been tramped over by cattle.

Frank A. Pitelka (1940a) found the Nashville warbler breeding in
northeastern Illinois in "oak-maple-hickory climax woodland with
semi-dense undergrowth, * * * with the stream cutting it and a
semi-swampy, sedge-grass area with willow thickets and scattered elms
and ashes." In northern Michigan, he found it "in spruce and cedar bogs
and in sandy woods of aspen, birch, and Norway pine."

Richard C. Harlow tells me that most of the nests he has found in New
Brunswick, about 10, are very frail, but are lined with moose hair. He
has found 7 nests in the mountains of Pennsylvania, where the normal
lining is deer hair.

_Eggs._--The first set of eggs for the Nashville warbler seems to be
always either 4 or 5; reported sets of 3 are probably incomplete or late
sets. The eggs are ovate or short ovate and are only slightly lustrous.
They are white or creamy white, speckled with shades of reddish brown,
such as "chestnut" and "auburn," mixed with "light brownish drab." On
some eggs the markings are fairly evenly scattered over the entire
surface, but usually they are concentrated and form a wreath at the
large end. Occasionally eggs are more boldly marked with spots and small
blotches or short scrawls; others are nearly immaculate. The
measurements of 50 eggs average 15.7 by 12.1 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =17.2= by 12.7, 16.4 by =13.0=, =14.5=
by 11.6, and 15.2 by =11.5= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation is said to be from 11 to 12 days, and
probably the female does most of it, though Mr. Knight (1908) says: "One
bird relieves the other on the nest and at times when the eggs are very
near the hatching point I have seen the male bring insects to its mate
on the nest. Possibly he may feed the female at earlier stages of
incubation but I have not seen him do so. Both birds feed the young,
giving them at first soft grubs and caterpillars, later on small
beetles, flies and similar insects. * * * The young leave about the
eleventh day after hatching."

For a further study of the nesting behavior of the Nashville warbler,
the reader is referred, to an excellent paper on the subject by Louise
de Kiriline Lawrence (1948).

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down "sepia-brown," and
describes the juvenal plumage of the Nashville warbler as follows:

"Pileum hair-brown, back darker, olive tinged, and rump olive-green.
Below, pale yellowish wood-brown, straw-yellow on abdomen and crissum.
Wings and tail olive-brown broadly edged with bright olive-green, the
median and greater coverts tipped with pale buff-yellow forming two wing
bands. Lores and auriculars mouse-gray, the orbital ring pale buff."

The sexes are alike in juvenal plumage. A postjuvenal molt occurs in
July and August that involves the contour plumage and the wing coverts
but not the rest of the wings or the tail. This produces a first winter
plumage in which young birds become practically indistinguishable from
adults in many cases, but the chestnut crown patch is generally smaller
and more veiled in the younger male and is often lacking in the young

Dr. Dwight (1900) says that the first nuptial plumage is "acquired by a
partial prenuptial moult which involves chiefly the crown, sides of head
and throat, but not the rest of the body plumage nor the wings and tail.
The head becomes plumbeous gray, the edgings only half concealing the
rich chestnut of the crown. The orbital ring is white and conspicuous.
Wear is marked, bringing the gray of the nape into contrast with the
greenish back, later exposing the chestnut of the crown."

A complete postnuptial molt in July and August produces the fully adult
plumage. In fresh fall plumage the head is browner than in spring, the
back is grayer, the crown patch is more veiled with gray tips, and the
breast is tinged with brownish. The females are paler than the males,
with less chestnut in the crown. Adults probably have a partial
prenuptial molt similar to that of young birds.

_Food._--Very little has been published on the food of the Nashville
warbler. Knight (1908) says that "the food of the adults consists of
beetles, larvae of various insects and the eggs of various insects. In
fact they eat almost anything which they can glean in the insect line
from the shrubbery and ground."

Forbush (1929) says: "As the bird ranges from the ground to the
tree-tops it takes most of the insects that any warbler will eat, among
them flies, young grasshoppers and locusts, leaf-hoppers and many
plant-lice, caterpillars both hairless and hairy, among them the gipsy,
brown-tail and tent caterpillar, most of which are taken when young and
small; also small wood-boring beetles are eaten, and other small insects
of many species. The bird appears to be almost wholly insectivorous."

_Behavior._--The eastern Nashville warbler is an active, sprightly,
restless member of an active family, ranging in its foraging mainly in
the lower story of the open woodlands and more often in the low trees
and shrubbery around the borders of the forest. When thus engaged it is
not particularly shy and often seems quite unconscious of the presence
of an observer. On migrations it seems to be sociably inclined and may
be seen associated with the mixed flocks of warblers that are drifting
through the tree tops. At these seasons it often visits our orchards and
the shrubbery in our gardens, giving us a glimpse of green and gold
among the blossoms and opening leaves.

J. W. Preston (1891) describes an interesting manner of foraging:

"One will fly to the foot of a fir tree or other conifer and begin an
upward search, hopping energetically from branch to branch until the
very highest point is reached, when the bird drops lightly down to the
foot of another tree, much as does the Brown Creeper. When an insect is
discovered the bird secures it by a sudden bound, and, should the object
be not easily dislodged, _Helminthophila_ sustains himself on flapping
wings until his purpose is accomplished, which often requires several

_Voice._--Gerald Thayer gave Dr. Chapman (1907) a very good description
of the songs and calls as follows:

The Nashville has at least two main perch-songs, and a flight-song, all
subject to a good deal of variation. It belongs decidedly among the
full-voiced Warblers. * * * Its commoner perch-song consists of a string
of six or eight or more, lively, rapid notes, suddenly congested into a
pleasant, rolling twitter, lower in key than the first part of the song,
and about half as long. In the other perch-song, the notes of what
correspond to the rolling twitter are separate and richer, and the
second part of the song is longer and more noticeable than the first,
whose notes are few and slurred, while the whole is more languidly

The differences are hard to describe intelligibly; but in reality they
are pronounced and constant. The flight-song, a fairly common
performance in late summer, is sung from the height of five to forty
feet above the (usually low) tree-tops. It is like the commoner
perch-songs, but more hurried, and slightly elaborated, often with a few
_chippings_ added, at both ends. Among the Nashville's calls a very
small, dry _chip_, and a more metallic, louder _chip_, somewhat
Water-Thrush-like, are noteworthy. It also _chippers_ like a young
Warbler or a Black-throated Green.

Miss Stanwood (1910a) writes:

One common song sounds like _'tsin, 'tsin, 'tsee_, another _sweeten,
sweeten, 'tsee_, a third, _sillup, sillup, sillup, 'tsee-e-e-e-e-e_. At
other times the bird sings but part of the song as _sweeten, sweet_; or
_sweeten, 'tsee_; or _sweeta, sweeta, 'tsee_; or recombines them
differently as _sweeten, sweeten, sweeten, 'tsee-e-e-e-e-e_. * * *

The song is loud, constant, and heard all over the locality, coming
principally from the gray birches, but also from the maples, poplars,
and evergreens. The bird sings from the tree-tops, but likewise from the
middle branches, and I have seen it singing on the ground and just a few
inches above it. My last record of its song in 1908 was made the 17th
day of July, the first, May the 14th. Between these dates it sang
well-nigh incessantly.

Knight (1908) says that, while the female is building the nest,
"the male bird perches in a nearby sapling and sings leisurely
'_pea-cie-pea-cie-hit-i-hit-i-hit_.'" Wilson (1832) thought that the
"notes very much resembled the breaking of small dry twigs, or the
striking of small pebbles of different sizes smartly against each other
for six or seven times, and loud enough to be heard at the distance of
thirty or forty yards." Rev. J. H. Langille (1884) writes: "The song of
the Nashville Warbler is a composition, the first half of which is as
nearly as possible like the thin but penetrating notes of the
Black-and-white Creeping Warbler, while the last half is like the
twitter of the Chipping Sparrow." He writes it in syllables as

The song has been said to resemble that of the chestnut-sided warbler,
but the two are really quite distinct; the song of the latter does not
end in a trill or in chipperings. It does, however, more closely
resemble the song of the Tennessee warbler. Dr. Roberts (1936) heard the
two singing at the same time and noted this difference: "The Nashville's
song is an utterance of rather greater volume than that of the Tennessee
and differs, also, in the fact that it has a short, rapidly weakening
trill or slide, following a rather long and deliberate prelude of four
or five notes; while the Tennessee has a brief prelude with a long
finishing trill, increasing in loudness and intensity to an abrupt

Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following study of the song: "The
territory song of the Nashville warbler is in two parts, the first a
series of 2-note phrases, and the second a series of rapid notes,
commonly lower in pitch and just twice as fast as the notes of the first
part; _pa tipa tipa tipa tipa tititititititit_. In 26 of my 29 records
the second part of the song is lower than the first. In the other three
it is higher. "The pitch of songs varies from G´´´ to F sharp´´´´, or
five and a half tones. Single songs rarely vary more than one and a
half or two tones. They are from 1-2/5 to 2 seconds in length. The
quality is rather musical, and some individuals have almost as sweet a
tone as the yellow warbler. In my experience field students often
confuse the songs of these two species.

"The nesting song may be heard commonly on the breeding grounds. I have
several records from the Adirondacks. This song is in three or four
parts, each part of three or four notes, and a little lower in pitch
than the preceeding part. Two-note phrases are not commonly heard in the
nesting song."

Francis H. Allen's rendering of the song is not very different from the
first one of Mr. Saunders', though he noted some variation, and mentions
in his notes an aberrant song, which "doubled the common song, which in
this case had a first part consisting of only a single phrase, thus;
_chip-ee-_(trill) _chip-ee-_(trill)."

_Field marks._--The gray head, white eye ring, olive-green back, bright
yellow under parts, and the absence of wing bars, with no white in the
tail, are the distinguishing marks of the eastern Nashville warbler. The
Connecticut warbler has a white eye ring but it has a gray throat,
whereas the Nashville is bright yellow from chin to abdomen. The
chestnut crown patch is not very conspicuous in the male and is less so,
or entirely lacking, in the female; the female is duller yellow below
and browner above than the male.

_Enemies._--Like other ground-nesting birds, this warbler has the usual
four-footed enemies to contend with, but its nest is quite well hidden.
Perhaps its worst bird enemy is the cowbird, although Friedmann (1934)
listed it as an uncommon victim of this parasite and had only six
records of it, the nests containing from one to two eggs of the cowbird.

_Fall._--As soon as the molting season is over and the young birds
are freshly clad in their winter dress the migration begins in
Massachusetts. This takes place in August, and the last stragglers may
be seen passing through in early October.

In Ohio, according to Mr. Trautman (1940), the first migrants are seen
about the first of September, the peak of the migration coming during
the latter half of that month when from 10 to 100 could be found in a
day, and after the 10th of October only an occasional bird remains. He
writes: "As with many other transient warblers the southward migration
of the Nashville Warbler covered a greater period of time than did the
spring movement, which usually lasted less than 30 days, whereas the
fall movement generally extended more than 45 days. * * * In spring the
species frequented the upper half of large trees and was more numerous
in tall trees of woodlands than it was in smaller groups or rows of tall
trees. In fall the species tended to inhabit the middle section of large
trees, and it also resorted to the taller bushes and saplings,
especially the larger hawthorn trees."

The fall migration route is apparently a reversal of the spring route
southwestward into Mexico and Central America where it spends the

_Winter._--The Nashville warbler is evidently very common in winter in
certain parts of Mexico, for Dr. C. William Beebe (1905) says: "At
times there were twenty and thirty in sight at once near our camp in
the Colima lowlands." These may have been the western race.


_Range._--Southern Canada to Guatemala.

_Breeding range._--The eastern Nashville and the western Nashville
(formerly the Calaveras) warblers breed =north= to southern British
Columbia (Tahsis Canal and Beaver Creek, Vancouver Island; Pemberton,
Lillooet, and Revelstoke); northern Idaho (Clark Fork); northwestern
Montana (Fortine); east-central Saskatchewan (Cumberland House);
southern Manitoba (Duck Mountain, Lake St. Martin, and Hillside Beach);
central Ontario (Casummit Lake, Lake Nipigon, and Lake Abitibi); and
southern Quebec (Lake Baskatong, Quebec, Kamouraska, Mingan, and
Natashquan River). =East= to southeastern Quebec (Natashquan River and
the Magdalen Islands); and Nova Scotia (Baddeck, Halifax, and
Barrington). =South= to Nova Scotia (Barrington); Maine (Ellsworth and
Bath); northeastern Massachusetts (Haverhill and Beverly); southern
Connecticut (Norwich); northern New Jersey (Moe and Beaufort Mountain);
northeastern Pennsylvania (Dingman's Ferry, Mount Riga, and Highland
Falls); northern West Virginia (Stony River Dam, Canaan Mountain, and
Cranesville Swamp); northeastern Ohio (Pymatuming Lake); southern
Michigan (Ann Arbor); northeastern Illinois (Deerfield); southern
Wisconsin (Lake Koshkonong); central Minnesota (Onamia and Detroit
Lakes); reported to breed in northeastern Nebraska but no specific
records; northwestern South Dakota (Cave Hills); northern Idaho
(Falcon); northwestern Oregon (Powder River Mountains, probably);
probably western Nevada (Lake Tahoe); and south-central California
(Greenhorn Mountains). =West= to central and western California
(Greenhorn Mountains, Paicines, and Yreka); western Oregon (Pinehurst,
Gold Hill, Depoe Bay, and Portland); western Washington (Mount Adams,
Tacoma, and Blaine); and southwestern British Columbia (Friendly Cove
and Tahsis Canal).

There are several records of the occurrence of this species in spring
migration in southern Saskatchewan (Regina, East End, and Maple Creek);
and in fall at Lake Kimawan, Alberta, west of Lesser Slave Lake. These
records imply the existence of a breeding range north of any yet

_Winter range._--The Nashville warbler and races are found in winter
=north= to central Durango (Chacala); western Nuevo León (Monterrey) and
southern Texas (Somerset and Matagorda County). =East= to southern Texas
(Matagorda County, Rio Hondo, and Brownsville); eastern Puebla
(Metlatoyuca); western Veracruz (Jalapa); Chiapas (Chicharras); and
central Guatemala (Barillos, Panajachel, and San Lucas). =South= to
Guatemala. =West= to western Guatemala (San Lucas and Sacapulas); Oaxaca
(Tehuantepec); Guerrero (Acapulco); Colima (Manzanillo); and Durango
(Durango and Chacla).

The Nashville warbler has been recorded as wintering occasionally in
southern Florida, but in view of the extreme rarity of the species in
southeastern United States it seems best to consider the record
hypothetical until specimens are collected.

Like other species that winter regularly in the Tropics, the Nashville
warbler can resist low temperatures as long as food is available.
Evidence of this is seen in the daily presence of one in a garden in New
York City from December 16, 1918, to January 9, 1919 (perhaps longer).
Another was noted almost daily from January 1 to March 1, 1938, at a
feeding table in Arlington, Va. The latter bird was caught and brought
to the U. S. Biological Survey for confirmation of the identification,
and was banded. On January 31, 1890, a specimen was picked up in
Swampscott, Massachusetts, that had apparently been killed by a shrike
about two weeks before.

The ranges as outlined apply to the entire species which includes two
geographic races; the eastern Nashville warbler (_V. r. ruficapilla_)
breeds from eastern Saskatchewan and Nebraska eastward; and the western
Nashville warbler (_V. r. ridgwayi_) breeds west of the Rocky Mountains.

_Migration._--Some early dates of spring arrival are: West
Virginia--French Creek, April 23. District of Columbia--Washington,
April 20. Pennsylvania--Beaver, April 25. New York--Canandaigua, April
25. Massachusetts--Taunton, April 24. Vermont--Rutland, April 27.
Maine--Presque Isle, May 2. Quebec--Kamouraska, May 2. New
Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 8. Mississippi--Rosedale, April 26.
Tennessee--Memphis, April 16. Kentucky--Bardstown, April 28.
Indiana--Indianapolis, April 24. Ohio--Oberlin, April 19. Michigan--Ann
Arbor, April 25. Ontario--Toronto, April 29. Texas--San Antonio, March
27. Arkansas--Delight, April 14. Missouri--St. Louis, April 21.
Iowa--Davenport, April 26. Illinois--Chicago, April 25.
Wisconsin--Madison, April 25. Minnesota--Red Wing, April 29.
Manitoba--Winnipeg, May 2. Arizona--Tucson, April 6. Montana--Missoula,
April 25. Idaho--Coeur d'Alene, April 29. California--Buena Park, March
3. Oregon--Prospect, April 20. Washington--Tacoma, April 23. British
Columbia--Okanagan Landing, April 21.

Late dates of spring departure are: West Virginia--Wheeling, May 24.
District of Columbia--Washington, May 20. Pennsylvania--Jeffersonville,
May 20. Mississippi--Rosedale, May 6. Tennessee--Nashville, May 19.
Kentucky--Bowling Green, May 19. Indiana--Richmond, June 1.
Texas--Ingram, May 10. Arkansas--Monticello, May 9. Missouri--Columbia,
May 28. Iowa--Grinnell, June 2. Illinois--Rockford, May 30. Kansas--Lake
Quivira, May 21. Nebraska--Red Cloud, May 24. South Dakota--June 1.
Arizona--Otero Canyon, Baboquivari Mountains, April 29.
California--Cabezon, May 7.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia--Okanagan Landing,
September 13. Washington--Port Chehalis, October 11. California--Los
Angeles, October 8. Idaho--Bayview, September 12. Montana--Bozeman,
September 12. Arizona--Fort Verde, September 28. Manitoba--Shoal Lake,
September 26. North Dakota--Fargo, October 15. South Dakota--Mellette,
October 4. Nebraska--Blue Springs, October 1. Kansas--Lawrence, October
8. Minnesota--St. Paul, October 25. Wisconsin--Racine, October 6;
Madison, November 1. Iowa--Marshalltown, October 14. Missouri--Columbia,
October 19. Arkansas--Winslow, October 14. Texas--Cove, November 15.
Ontario--Ottawa, October 7. Michigan--Sault Ste. Marie, October 7.
Illinois--Springfield, October 2. Ohio--Toledo, October 29.
Kentucky--Lexington, October 16. Tennessee--Memphis, October 3.
Mississippi--Deer Island, October 16. Quebec--Hatley, October 18.
Maine--Portland, October 13. New Hampshire, Center Ossipee,
October 23. Massachusetts--Danvers, October 12. New York--New York,
October 17. Pennsylvania--Philadelphia, October 17. District of
Columbia--Washington, October 14. West Virginia--Bluefield, October 19.

Early dates of fall arrival are: California--Los Angeles, August 9.
Arizona--Patagonia, August 8. North Dakota--Rice Lake, August 18. South
Dakota--Yankton, August 2. Kansas--Lake Quivira, August 31. Iowa--Iowa
City, August 18. Missouri--Montier, August 8. Arkansas--Winslow,
September 8. Texas--Rockport, September 1. Illinois--Glen Ellyn, August
16. Indiana--Bloomington, August 26. Ohio--Cleveland, August 2.
Kentucky--Versailles, August 13. Tennessee--Marysville, September 1.
Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard, August 17. New York--Rhinebeck,
August 13. Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh, August 28. District of
Columbia--Washington, September 5. West Virginia--French Creek,
September 7.

The Nashville warbler is a rare species in the lower Mississippi Valley;
there are only three records for Louisiana; and it is almost unknown in
the Atlantic States south of the Chesapeake Bay.

_Casual records._--Four specimens have been collected in Greenland: One
at Godthaab, about 1835; two at Fiskenaes, October 10, 1823, and August
31, 1840; and one marked "West Greenland," between 1890 and 1899. The
three latter were all immature birds. A specimen was collected in
Bermuda on September 16, 1907.

_Egg dates._--Maine: 27 records, May 8 to August 7; 15 records, May 27
to June 14, indicating the height of the season.

Minnesota: 11 records, May 7 to June 15.

Quebec: 32 records, May 28 to July 4; 18 records, June 19 to 29.

California: 23 records, May 17 to July 30; 12 records, May 21 to June 5




This western form of our well-known eastern Nashville warbler, often
called the Calaveras warbler, was discovered by Robert Ridgway in the
East Humboldt Mountains, Nev., on September 6, 1868, and given the
subspecific name _gutturalis_. He (1902) describes it as similar to the
eastern bird, "but olive-green of rump and upper tail-coverts brighter,
more yellowish, yellow of under parts brighter, lower abdomen more
extensively whitish, and greater wing-coverts lighter, more yellowish
olive-green." He gives as its range: "Western United States, breeding on
high mountains, from the Sierra Nevada (Calaveras Co., California) to
British Columbia (Vernon, Nelson, Okanogan district, etc.), eastward to
eastern Oregon (Fort Klamath), northern Idaho (Fort Sherman), etc.;
southward during migration to extremity of Lower California, and over
western and northern Mexico, and southeastward to Texas (San Antonio;
Tom Green County; Concho County)." The 1931 A. O. U. Check-List says
that this form winters "in Mexico south to Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero,
Jalisco, and Colima."

Dr. Walter K. Fisher wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907): "The Calaveras Warbler
is a characteristic denizen of the chaparral and is found on both slopes
of the Sierra Nevadas about as far south as Mt. Whitney. It frequents
the belts of the yellow, sugar, and Jeffrey pines, and ranges up into
the red fir zone. During the height of the nesting season one may see
them flitting about among thickets of manzanita, wild cherry,
huckleberry, oak and buck brush, almost always in song; and while the
female is assiduously hunting among the dense cover of bushes, the male
is often singing in a pine or fir, far above mundane cares. * * * I have
observed this Warbler at lower altitudes on the west slope among small
black oaks, in company with Hermit Warblers."

Dr. Wilfred H. Osgood (1896) first saw it in the Sierras at 3,500 feet
elevation, but more commonly at 3,700 feet. "At 5,000 feet we found them
most common, and from 7,000 to 9,000 feet they gradually disappeared,
apparently going as high up as the black oak, in which trees they were
generally seen, skipping about in search of insects."

Grinnell and Storer (1924) say: "The Calaveras Warbler is common during
the summer months in the black oaks and maples along each side of the
Yosemite Valley and in similar situations elsewhere on the western flank
of the Sierra Nevada. Among all the warblers to be seen in the Yosemite
Valley during the summer months the present species is the only one
which does not forage and nest in the same niche. The Calaveras seeks
its food and does its singing well up in trees, but places its nest
immediately upon the ground."

C. W. and J. H. Bowles (1906) write of its haunts in Washington:

Like the hermit warbler, a bird of the higher altitudes in the mountains
of California, the Calaveras warbler, on reaching the cooler climate of
the northwest, is to be found as a rule only on the driest prairies.
Here the birds frequent the scattered clumps of young oaks and fir trees
that have reached a height of some three or four feet, and which border
the large tracts of dense fir timber. It is a noteworthy fact that,
while these birds are not often to be found more than a hundred yards
outside of the forests, they are seldom or never seen inside of the
dividing line where the heavy timber meets the prairie. Also they do not
encroach upon the hillside territory of the lutescent warbler, which
bird in turn does not appear on the prairies but confines itself to the
brush-covered uplands.

_Nesting._--Dr. Osgood (1896) found three nests of the western
Nashville, or Calaveras, warbler near Fyffe in the Sierras; two of these
were concealed under dead leaves, one of which was partially concealed
by a little sprig of cedar at the foot of a cedar stump, and the other
was under a little tuft of "mountain misery"; the third was in a thick
patch of "mountain misery" and was "well embedded among the roots of
this little shrub, and shaded by its thick leaves."

In the Yosemite Valley, Grinnell and Storer (1924) found a nest in what
must be an unusual situation:

The location was only about 75 feet from the much traveled south road on
the Valley floor and at the base of the talus pile of huge boulders. The
nest was in the face of one of the larger of these boulders, partly in a
diagonal fissure. It was on the north side of the rock and so never
received any direct rays of sunlight. The whole face of the boulder was
covered densely with yellow-green moss which in places was overlaid by
olive-gray lichens. The nest was 43 inches from the base of the rock and
about 60 inches from the top. Another nest was found in a hollow of the
ground at the base of an azalea bush, near an old road along the
hillside. The creek itself was about 50 feet distant. This nest was 3
inches across the outside and about 2 inches high, the cavity being
1-1/4 inches deep. Strips of bark of the incense cedar, plant fibers,
and horsehair comprised the building material.

The Bowles brothers (1906) say that the nests are very much like those
of the eastern Nashville warbler, as taken by them in Massachusetts. In
Washington, "the site chosen is usually at the base of a very young oak,
or fir, tho on one occasion we found one built under some blackberry
vines at the base of a large fir stub. The nests are sunk well into the
ground or moss, and are so well concealed as to defy discovery unless
one flushes the bird."

_Eggs._--The eggs of the western Nashville warbler are practically
indistinguishable from those of the eastern form. The measurements of 40
eggs average 15.3 by 12.2 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =16.6= by =13.2=, =14.3= by 11.9, and 16.0 by =11.5=
millimeters (Harris).

We have no information on the incubation of the eggs or care of the
young. The changes in plumage parallel those of the eastern bird. Very
little seems to be known about the exact food of the Calaveras warbler,
and its voice seems to be the same as that of the Nashville, but the
following accounts of its habits seem worth quoting. Grinnell and Storer
(1924) write:

The forage range of this warbler lies chiefly in trees other than
conifers. Such trees as the black oak and big-leafed maple renew their
foliage every spring and the Calaveras Warblers find excellent forage in
the insects and larvae which feed upon this tender new leafage during
the spring and summer months. Less often these birds may be found in
golden oaks and occasionally in Douglas spruces. They usually forage 25
to 40 feet above the ground, keeping within the stratum of new foliage,
but they have been seen as low as 10 feet and as high as 70 feet above
the earth. When within the foliage their yellow and green coloration
makes it difficult to locate them, especially as the birds do not move
about as rapidly as some of the other warblers. At times a Calaveras
Warbler will poise on rapidly beating wings to capture some insect
otherwise out of reach.

Dr. J. C. Merrill (1888) calls them "restless, shy, and very difficult
to shoot", and says further, "When alarmed, as they very easily are, the
males move rapidly through the trees, often flying a hundred yards or
more at once, and were it not that their constant song indicates their
movements, it would be impossible to follow them. I have frequently
followed one for half an hour or more before I could even catch a
glimpse of it, and my pursuit of any particular one was more often
unsuccessful than the reverse. * * * I have never found a land bird more
wary and difficult to shoot. But as soon as the young leave the nest
this extreme shyness disappears, and the parents are readily approached
and observed as they busily search for food for their young family."

Dr. William T. Shaw, who collected a specimen of this warbler in
northwestern Washington, says in his notes: "This warbler, a singing
male, was noticeably a percher upon high, isolated cedar poles when
singing, having three or four favorite ones in his territory, which was
a hillside grown to a height of about 15 feet with second-growth
deciduous trees, following fire. He sang from a height of from 30 to 40
feet up near the top of these old widely-scattered, fire-blasted,
weather-bleached trees, clearly out in the open and isolated from green
sheltering foliage beneath him, in such a location as one is accustomed
to seeing lazuli buntings perch when they sing." Dr. Shaw thought the
first part of the song suggested that of Macgillivray's warbler, and the
latter notes reminded him of "those heard among the inspirational notes
in the song of the lazuli bunting."

The Bowles brothers (1906) say that, in the spring, the males have at
times a very pleasing habit while singing, "that of hovering thru the
air for a distance of fifteen or twenty yards. The manner of flying at
these times is very slow and closely resembles that of one of the marsh
wrens, but the beak is turned upwards and the feathers on the swelling
throat separate until it seems almost certain that the bird will sing
himself into some serious bodily mishap."





This warbler was discovered by Dr. W. W. Anderson, at Fort Burgwyn, New
Mexico, and was described by Baird, in a footnote in The Birds of North
America, by Baird, Cassin, and Lawrence (1860). The footnote occurs
under the explanation of plates in the second volume. The warbler was
named for Mrs. Virginia Anderson, wife of the discoverer.

Its range during the breeding season covers portions of Nevada, Utah,
Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, mainly in the mountain regions, and
it retires to Mexico for the winter. It seems to be more abundant in
Colorado than elsewhere, breeding from the foothills, where it is a
characteristic bird and perhaps the most abundant of the wood warblers,
up to 7,500 to 8,000 feet in the mountains. On the spring migration, it
is abundant along the valley streams, among the cottonwoods and
willows, or sometimes among the pines; but in the summer it is found
among the low scrub oak brush on the hillsides.

Bailey and Niedrach (1938) write attractively of Virginia's warbler in
its Colorado haunts:

In the broken prairie where the yellow pines have taken their stand upon
the crest of the tableland, and in the rocky canyons clothed with the
scraggly scrub oaks slipping down to narrow grass-grown creek-bottoms,
Virginia's Warbler chooses its nesting grounds.

Plants seem to burst into life during the early weeks in May. * * * The
flowers of the scrub oaks tinge the hillsides with a greenish-yellow
bloom; the green of bursting leaves and grasses soon blends with the
nodding blossoms of the pasque-flower; the beautiful pink plume sways on
the hillside, and yellow blossoms of the Oregon grape thrust forth among
the holly-like leaves, making one think of flowering Christmas wreaths.
It is then that the Virginia's Warblers are at the height of their
activity. Their colors are the grays and yellows of the new vegetation.
The males perch among scrub-oak branches and yellow pines, where they
are usually concealed, and do their utmost to outsing their towhee

In Nevada, Ridgway (1877) first observed this warbler "among the cedar
and piñon groves on the eastern slope of the Ruby Mountains. * * * On
the Wasatch and Uintah Mountains it was more abundant, being
particularly plentiful among the scrub-oaks on the foothills near Salt
Lake City. They lived entirely among the bushes, which there were so
dense that the birds were difficult to obtain, even when shot."

In the Charleston Mountains, Nev., according to A. J. van Rossem (1936),
"the distribution appeared to be limited to the so-called Upper Sonoran
associations of mahogany and Gambel oaks, and therefore the species is
considered characteristic of that zone, although the extremes of
altitude at which it was found were 6,300 and 9,000 feet. Because of the
relative scarcity of oaks, by far the greater number were found in
mahogany which here grows as low, dense forest, instead of in the more
familiar shrub form in which it is usually known."

In the Great Basin region, Dr. Jean M. Linsdale (1938) found Virginia's
warblers in a variety of situations, such as "in sage on rocky,
piñon-covered slope 100 yards from a stream; in sage on top of ridge; at
tip of mountain mahogany tree; in plum thicket; singing and foraging
through upper foliage of tall birches close to creek; in cottonwoods and
piñons close to creeks; singing in dead shrub 10 feet high at base of
rock slide; in aspen; in thickets of sage, elder, _Ephedra_, and
_Symphoricarpos_; in willow; on ground among rocks at crest of ridge."
The altitudes ranged from 6,500 to 8,000 feet, with the largest number
between 7,000 and 7,500 feet.

In southern Arizona, this warbler, according to Mr. Swarth (1904)--

proved to be very abundant during the spring migration, particularly in
the lower parts of the mountains; but the most of them seem to go
farther north, and but few, compared with the numbers seen in April and
the early part of May, remained through the summer to breed. The
earliest arrival noted was on April 10th and soon after they were quite
abundant, mostly in the oak region below 5000 feet, remaining so
throughout April and up to the first week in May, at which time the
migrating birds had about all passed on. All that were seen after that I
took to be breeding birds, for they gradually moved to a higher
altitude, (6000 to 8000 feet) and were nearly all in pairs. About the
middle of April, 1902, I found a few _virginiae_, together with other
migrating warblers, in the willows along the San Pedro River, some
fifteen miles from the mountains.

_Nesting._--Ridgway was evidently the first to record the nest of
Virginia's warbler, finding it near Salt Lake City on June 9, 1869. "The
nest was embedded in the deposits of dead or decaying leaves, on ground
covered by dense oak-brush. Its rim was just even with the surface. It
was built on the side of a narrow ravine at the bottom of which was a
small stream. The nest itself is two inches in depth by three and a half
in diameter. It consists of a loose but intricate interweaving of fine
strips of the inner bark of the mountain mahogany, fine stems of
grasses, roots, and mosses, and is lined with the same with the addition
of the fur and hair of the smaller animals" (Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway,

Shortly afterwards, a nest was found on June 1, 1873, in Colorado, by C.
E. Aiken. It was reported by Aiken and Warren (1914) as "the first nest
of this species known to science. * * * This was sunk in the ground in a
tuft of bunch grass growing in a clump of oak brush, with the dead grass
hanging over and completely concealing the nest, which was reached
through a small round hole like a mouse hole through the protecting

Dr. Linsdale (1938) reports a nest found in Nevada, at an elevation of
7,700 feet, that "was at the lower edge of a clump of grass 20 inches
tall and 2 feet across. The surrounding hillside was of small rocks
lying at a maximum angle of rest. A few similar grass clumps were
scattered near, about 10 feet apart. The surrounding trees were mountain
mahogany and chokecherry. The nest was composed entirely of grass and
was in a depression in the loose soil. It was well concealed by dead
grass at the base of the tuft."

In the Huachuca Mountains, Ariz., Mr. Swarth (1904) found a nest that
"was built on a steep sidehill about ten feet from a much traveled
trail, and was very well concealed; being under a thick bunch of
overhanging grass, and sunk into the ground besides, so as to be
entirely hid from view. This was at an elevation of about 8,000 feet,
which seems to be about the upward limit for this species in this

We found Virginia's warbler fairly common there in the middle reaches of
the canyons, around 7,000 feet, and found a nest being built at the base
of a bush of mountain misery; Mr. Willard collected it with a set of
three eggs on June 4, 1922; it was made of leaves and strips of bark and
was lined with horsehair.

Another nest before me, from the Huachucas, has a foundation of moss and
lichens, dry leaves, and strips of cedar bark, over which are finer
strips of the bark and shreds of dry weed stalks and grasses, with a
lining of still finer fibers; it is a shallow nest, its diameter being 3
by 3-1/2 inches outside and 2 inches inside.

_Eggs._--While 4 eggs seem to constitute the usual set for Virginia's
warbler, as few as 3 and as many as 5 have been reported. These are
ovate to short ovate and only slightly lustrous. They are white, finely
speckled or spotted with shades of reddish brown, such as "chestnut" and
"auburn," intermingled with faint specks of "pale vinaceous-drab." Some
eggs are profusely spotted over the entire surface, while others have
the markings concentrated at the large end. The measurements of 40 eggs
average 15.9 by 12.4 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =17.0= by 12.4, 16.0 by =13.0=, =14.2= by 12.2, and 16.3 by
=11.2= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--On the period of incubation and on the development and care of
the young we have no information except the following observations of
Bailey and Niedrach (1938): "The hatching time of many species of
Colorado birds seems to coincide with an abundance of larvae feeding
upon plants among which the birds are nesting. We have noticed time and
again, that pests are numerous upon the vegetation when the fledglings
are in the nest, but a few weeks later, after the little fellows have
taken wing and are able to move to other parts, the caterpillars have
gone into the pupa stage." At a nest they were watching, they observed
that both parents shared the work of feeding the young, averaging a trip
every 6 minutes.

A. J. van Rossem (1936) took young birds that were not fully grown on
July 10, and others on July 13 that had nearly completed the postjuvenal
molt, from which he inferred that two broods might be raised in a
season. H. S. Swarth (1904) noted that the young birds began to appear
in the Huachuca Mountains about the middle of July, after which both old
and young birds moved down into the foothills.

_Plumages._--The young Virginia's warbler in juvenal plumage is plain
grayish brown above; the throat, chest, and sides are paler brownish
gray; the abdomen and center of the breast white; the upper and under
tail coverts are dull greenish yellow; there is no chestnut crown patch;
and the greater and median wing coverts are tipped with dull buffy. The
sexes are alike.

The postjuvenal molt begins early in July and is often complete before
the end of that month. The first winter plumage is similar to that of
the adult female at that season. In this plumage the sexes are not very
different, and the crown patch is not much in evidence or is altogether
lacking in the young female; both sexes are browner and with less yellow
than in the adult plumage, and the female is duller than the male.

A partial prenuptial molt occurs between February and May, mainly about
the head, during which the chestnut crown patch is at least partially
assumed and the young birds become almost indistinguishable from adults.
There is, however, considerable individual variation in the advance
toward maturity.

Subsequent molts consist of a complete postnuptial molt in July and
August, and a partial prenuptial molt in early spring. The adult male in
the fall is browner above and on the flanks, and the yellow on the chest
is duller than in the spring, while the chestnut crown patch is
concealed by brownish gray tips. The female, also, is browner than in
the spring, with little if any yellow on the chest and with the crown
patch similarly concealed. In spring birds there is much individual
variation, perhaps owing to age, in the amount of yellow on the breast,
throat, and chin. Some females are nearly as brightly colored as are the
duller males, some have very little yellow on the chest and some lack
the chestnut crown patch.

_Food._--Our information on the food of Virginia's warbler is limited to
the observation of Bailey and Niedrach (1938) who saw a pair of these
warblers feeding their young on the caterpillars that eat the foliage of
the trees and shrubs on their nesting grounds. It is significant that
after these caterpillars are no longer available the warbler leaves its
breeding haunts and moves down into the foothills, perhaps in search of
other food; and it would be interesting to learn what that food is. It
has been seen foraging on the ground, as well as in the foliage, and
flying up into the air to capture insects on the wing.

_Behavior._--Virginia's warbler is a shy, retiring species, spending
most of its time not far above the ground in the thick underbrush, where
it is not easily seen, as its colors match its surroundings. It is also
very lively and active, almost constantly in motion, except when it
mounts to the top of some dead bush or small tree to sit and sing.

_Voice._--Dr. Chapman (1907) quotes C. E. Aiken as follows: "The male
is very musical during the nesting season, uttering his _swee_ ditty
continually as he skips through the bushes in search of his morning
repast; or having satisfied his appetite, he mounts to the top of some
tree in the neighborhood of his nest, and repeats at regular intervals
a song of remarkable fullness for a bird of such minute proportions."
Henry D. Minot (1880) calls the "ordinary note, a sharp _chip_;
song, simple but various (deceptively so); common forms are
_ché-we-ché-we-ché-we-ché-we, wit-a-wi't-wi't-wi't_ (these terminal
notes being partially characteristic of _Helminthophagae_) and
_che-wé-che-wé-che-wé, ché-a-ché-a-ché_". Dr. Linsdale's (1938)
comments on singing males follow:

The song varied from 7 to 10 notes, being usually 8, and it occupied
about 3 seconds. At the beginning the notes were slow and they came more
rapidly at the end. About half a minute elapsed between songs. Another
bird sang 14 times in 3 minutes and 10 seconds. * * * Singing perches
on dead limbs that were rather exposed were the rule, but they were not
often as high as the tops of tall trees. * * * On June 16, 1930, near
Kingston Creek, 7500 feet, a singing male was followed for an hour,
beginning at 7:30 a. m. It sang about every 30 seconds. The territory
over which it moved was surprisingly large, estimated as extending 400
yards along the cañon slope and vertically about 150 yards, from near
the stream to the base of the broken cliffs. * * * The song, compared
with that of the Tolmie warbler had a more rapid rhythm and the notes
were thinner and weaker. It could be distinguished from that of the
Audubon warbler by the lack of rising inflection at the end. The song
was represented by the observer (Miller) as _zdl-zdl-zdl-zdl,

_Field marks._--Virginia's warbler, with its plain gray upper parts, is
an inconspicuous bird, and its shy, retiring habits make it difficult to
observe. The chestnut crown patch is not prominent and is often
invisible. The yellow on the chest and throat of the male is quite
variable and in the female and young much reduced or lacking. The best
field marks are the dull yellow rump and upper and under tail covers,
which are more or less conspicuous in old and young birds at all

_Enemies._--O. W. Howard (1899) says that "the nests of the bird, like
those of other ground-nesting birds of this locality, are destroyed by
jays and snakes. The jays steal both eggs and young. Often a whole band
of these winged wolves will sweep down on a nest and in less time than
it takes to tell it they will devour the contents and destroy the nest,
the pitiful notes of the helpless parents being drowned by the harsh
notes of the marauders."

Frank C. Cross writes to me that Robert J. Niedrach showed him a nest of
this warbler that contained a young cowbird and one young warbler.

_Winter._--By the last of August or early September, Virginia's warblers
have retired from their northern breeding haunts, to spend the winter in
southern Mexico. Dr. C. William Beebe (1905) writes: "Occasionally in
the mornings, numbers of tiny grayish warblers came slowly down the
walls of the _barranca_, feeding as they descended, taking short
flights, and keeping close to ground among the dense underbrush. These
birds lingered at the camp for a time, and then, with soft, low chirps,
all passed on to the water, where they alighted on the sand and drank.
Then, as if at some silent signal, all flew up and returned quickly,
still keeping close to the ground, zig-zagging their way upward in a
long line, like tiny gray mice." These were, of course, Virginia's


_Range._--Western United States to Southern Mexico.

_Breeding range._--Virginia's warbler breeds =north= to central eastern
California (White Mountains); central and northeastern Nevada (Kingston
Creek, Ruby Mountains, and East Humboldt Mountains); northern Utah (Salt
Lake City, Parley's Park, Packs Canyon, and Ashley); possibly
southeastern Idaho (Joe's Gap, Bear Lake County; one specimen from
Bancroft, Bannock County); and northern Colorado (probably Little Snake
River, Moffat County, and Estes Park). =East= to the eastern slope of
the Rocky Mountains in Colorado (Estes Park, Denver, Manitou, Fountain,
and Beulah); in migration has occurred east to Limon, and Monon in Baca
County close to the Kansas line; and central New Mexico (Tierra
Amarilla, Lake Burford, Sandia Mountain, and Apache, probably). =South=
to southwestern New Mexico (Apache); and southeastern Arizona (Paradise
and the Huachuca Mountains). =West= to southeastern and central Arizona
(Huachuca Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains, and Prescott); and
eastern California (Clark Mountain and White Mountains; casually in
migration to Lemon Grove).

_Winter range._--In winter Virginia's warbler is found in west central
Mexico from northern Jalisco (Bolanas); and Guanajuato (Guanajuato),
to Morelos (Yautepec); and Guerrero (Talpa and Chilpancingo).

_Migration._--A late date of spring departure is: Sonora--Moctezuma, May

Early dates of spring arrival are: Texas--Socorro, April 20. New
Mexico--Cooney, April 10. Colorado--Estes Park, May 2. Arizona--Madera
Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, April 2. Utah--Vernal, May 5.
Nevada--South Twin River, April 30.

Late spring migrant in Brewster County, Tex., May 13.

Late dates of fall departure are: Utah--Vernal, September 20.
Arizona--Tombstone, September 11. Colorado--Boulder, September 21. New
Mexico--Koehler Junction, September 11. Texas--El Paso, September 16.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Arizona--Toprock, July 23.
Texas--Toyavale, August 21. Sonora--Guadalupe Canyon, August 31.

_Casual records._--Two specimens of Virginia's warbler have been taken
in western California: in San Diego County, on September 3, 1931; and at
Prisoner's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, on September 8, 1948. Virginia's
warbler has been reported as occurring in Nebraska and Kansas, but there
is no record of a specimen having been taken in either State.

_Egg dates._--Arizona: 10 records, May 17 to June 21; 5 records, May 25
to June 4.

Colorado: 6 records, June 1 to 26.

Nevada: 3 records, June 8 to 15.





Described in 1889 from a single specimen collected by W. B. Richardson
in the Sierra Nevada de Colima, Mexico, this handsome warbler was, in
1932, still known from only a dozen museum specimens, and not a word had
been recorded on its habits. In that year a University of Michigan
expedition found the Colima warbler to be common in the higher forests
of the Chisos Mountains of southwestern Texas and made the first
discovery of its nest and eggs. The basis for the inclusion of this
warbler in the A. O. U. Check-List had been a single specimen collected
by Frederick M. Gaige in the Chisos in 1928 (Van Tyne, 1929).

The range of the Colima warbler has been recorded only very sketchily,
but Bangs (1925) was probably correct in surmising that the specimens
from southern Mexico (Colima and Michoacán) were migrant birds. The
closely related Virginia's warbler, which nests in the Rocky Mountain
States, winters mainly in Michoacán, Guerrero, and Jalisco. Recently R.
T. Moore (1942) added a second, more southerly, locality in Michoacán
and one in eastern Sinaloa to the known southern range of the Colima
warbler. The breeding range is apparently restricted to the highlands of
northeastern Mexico and the Chisos Mountains of southwestern Texas. In
Texas the Colima warbler occurs at altitudes between 6,000 and 7,500
feet (Van Tyne, 1936); in Coahuila, apparently, only above altitudes of
approximately 7,500 feet (Burleigh and Lowery, 1942). Records from the
southern part of its range, however, show a greater altitudinal spread.
The type specimen was taken in Colima at about 8,000 feet, and R. T.
Moore (1942) reports two November specimens, one taken at 9,500 feet in
northeastern Michoacán, the other at 5,200 feet in Sinaloa. These
represent the extremes of the known altitudinal range.

_Courtship._--Mating behavior has been observed during the first few
days of May and sets of eggs noted May 15 (just completed) and May 20
(highly incubated). The only recorded specimen in juvenal plumage was
collected July 20. Peet observed pursuit behavior in the Chisos
Mountains on May 4 (within a few days of nest building), which may have
had some courtship significance, but nothing definite is known of the
courtship habits. Sutton noted copulation twice on May 1 in the Chisos,
and the gonads of specimens collected that day were much enlarged;
there was no indication that the females had begun incubating.

_Nesting._--Two nests, both in the Chisos Mountains, have been
described. The first (discovered in 1932) was lodged between small rocks
and deeply imbedded in dead oak leaves on the sloping bank of a dry
stream bed. A dense ground cover of vines and other herbaceous plants
arched completely over it, leaving an entrance only on the northwest
side, toward the stream. The nest had a basic structure of loosely woven
fine grasses, the outside reinforced with pieces of green moss and the
rim with strips of cedar bark; the cavity (5 centimeters across the rim
and 4 centimeters deep) was lined with fine grass, a little fur, and a
few hairs (Van Tyne, 1936). The other nest, which was "on the ground,
under a little bunch of oak leaves, at the edge of a talus slope, almost
at the very base of the cliffs" (Sutton, 1935), was similar, but its
basic structure included dry leaves, and the site was concealed by only
a partial canopy of leaves (Van Tyne and Sutton, 1937).

Nest building was observed in the Chisos Mountains on May 7, 1932 (Van
Tyne, 1936):

As I was crossing the dry stream bed about a hundred yards below Boot
Spring, I suddenly saw within twenty-five feet of me a female warbler
with nest material in her bill. I stopped instantly and, remaining
motionless, was greatly relieved to see the warbler continue undisturbed
by my presence. In a moment she dropped to the ground and entered the
nest, which was on the sloping right bank of the stream about six feet
back from the margin of the rocky stream bed. After working for about
twenty seconds the warbler left the nest and flew down the stream bed a
hundred and fifty feet. In twelve minutes she was back with more nest
material to repeat the performance. Subsequent excursions for building
material during the ensuing hour were of three, twelve, six, and
twenty-two minutes' duration. Each time she worked at the nest only
fifteen to twenty seconds, until the last trip (at 11:43 A. M.) when she
worked about two minutes and then departed, probably to feed, for she
did not return again while I watched. Each trip to the nest had been
made undeviatingly, without any hesitation, from the stream bed or from
the forest to the west. Alighting almost directly above the nest,
without a pause she dropped through the branches by three or four stages
and promptly entered the nest, placed the material, and snuggled down
working it into place. After a few moments she seemed to have completed
this to her satisfaction, and, leaving the nest, she flew up to the
branches ten or twelve feet above, fed for a few moments on the insects
among the fresh green leaves of the little oaks and maples, and went
away for more material.

When it was evident that the nest building was over for the time I went
over to the nest and, examining it more closely, found that it was
nearly built. The following day, May 8, it seemed to be finished.

_Eggs._--Two complete clutches have been found, each containing four
eggs. Four eggs collected and measured were 18 by 13.3, 18 by 13.5, 18
by 13.5, and 18.5 by 14 millimeters. They were creamy white, speckled,
and blotched in a wreath at the larger end with "vinaceous fawn," "light
brownish drab," and "cinnamon drab."

Egg laying, in the one instance observed, was at daily intervals (May
12-15); the first egg was laid four days after completion of the nest.
Incubation had begun May 16, the day after the last egg was laid. The
length of the incubation period is not known. Females collected on May
12 (Peet), May 17 (Van Tyne), and May 20 (Sutton) had well-marked
incubation patches; males collected at the same time had no patch.

_Plumages._--The Colima warbler differs from its nearest relative, the
Virginia's warbler, in being larger; darker, less gray, above; crown
paler; rump and upper tail coverts darker and richer in color; yellow of
throat and breast absent or, if present, more green and more diffuse;
sides and flanks more brownish; crissum darker, more aniline yellow;
sexes much more nearly alike. The adult female Colima warbler is
slightly darker than the male and is more brown below. It is apparently
never yellow on the breast.

The juvenal plumage (known from only one specimen) differs from the
adult plumage in lacking the crown spot and in having two buffy wing
bars. The rump is also much more yellow (less green) and the crissum is
more yellow (less orange). The young Colima warbler differs from the
young Virginia's warbler in having a larger bill, darker plumage, and a
less ochraceous rump.

The fall plumage differs from that of the spring in being "darker and
browner throughout, the gray of head a good deal obscured by deep olive
or light brownish olive; crown patch orange rufous; under parts darker
with whitish area in middle of belly more distinct and under
tail-coverts duller, more nearly aniline yellow" (Bangs, 1925).

George Miksch Sutton's fine color plate (Van Tyne, 1936, frontispiece)
of the Colima warbler is apparently the only published figure of the

_Behavior._--In Texas, the Colima warbler was observed feeding on
insects (which were not identified), but nothing further has been
recorded about its food. All observers seem to agree that it is not a
shy bird, although in its preferred cover, the female seems elusive and
nests are difficult to find. Sutton has remarked that they are "rather
deliberate, even vireo-like in their movements" (Van Tyne and Sutton,
1937). In the Chisos Mountains, they frequented especially the young
maples and deciduous oaks along the banks of the dry, boulder-strewn
stream bed, and elsewhere on the steep mountain slopes their preference
for clumps of small oaks was noted.

_Voice._--The call note of the Colima warbler is a very sharp, almost
explosive _psit_. Its common song is a continuous trill, like that of
the chipping sparrow, but shorter (lasting 3 to 4 seconds), more
musical, and ending with two separate notes slightly lower in scale. A
second, rarer, and more varied song is so clear that it can be heard for
three or four hundred feet through the woods although it does not seem
loud when heard from nearby. It is perhaps this song that Brandt (1940)
describes as resembling the song of the eastern redstart. E. C. Jacot
(MS.) reports that the males usually start singing when "a person
approaches the territory of a pair, and continues to sing until the
intruder has passed." In the Chisos Mountains, Tex., the males were
persistent singers. Once several sang even after a dense fog had
silenced most other species. They sang usually from bushes and small
trees between periods of feeding and moving about but sometimes remained
for a while on a higher perch (up to 20 feet), singing at frequent


_Range._--Chisos Mountains, Tex., and mountains of northeastern Mexico;
probably winters in Colima, Michoacán, and Sinaloa.

The Colima warbler has been recorded from: Texas (Chisos Mountains);
Coahuila (Sierra Guadalupe and Diamante Pass); Tamaulipas (Miquihuana);
Michoacán (Patamba and Sierra Ozumatlan); Sinaloa (5 miles north of
Santa Lucia); Colima (Sierra Nevada).

_Egg dates._--Texas: 2 records, May 15 and 20.



PLATES 18, 19


Dr. J. G. Cooper discovered this tiny and inconspicuous warbler at Fort
Mojave, on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, in the spring of
1861, and named it in honor of Miss Lucy Baird, daughter of Prof.
Spencer F. Baird. It might well have been named the mesquite warbler, as
its distribution coincides very closely with that of this tree, which
seems to furnish its favorite home, most of its nesting sites, and much
of its foraging area.

Harry S. Swarth (1905) wrote of conditions then existing:

South of Tucson, Arizona, along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, lies
a region offering the greatest inducements to the ornithologist. The
river, running underground for most of its course, rises to the surface
at this point, and the bottom lands on either side are covered, miles in
extent, with a thick growth of giant mesquite trees, literally giants,
for a person accustomed to the scrubby bush that grows everywhere in the
desert regions of the southwest, can hardly believe that these fine
trees, many of them sixty feet high and over, really belong to the same
species. This magnificent grove is included in the Papago Indian
Reservation, which is the only reason for the trees surviving as long as
they have, since elsewhere every mesquite large enough to be used as
firewood has been ruthlessly cut down, to grow up again as a scraggly

But this magnificent forest did not long remain in its pristine glory.
When I was in Arizona with Frank Willard in 1922, we had looked forward
with keen anticipation to visiting the mesquite forest, where he had
told me that we should find a thick stand of big trees covering a large
area, and some wonderful bird life. We were disappointed in the forest,
for the Papago Indians had been cutting down the larger trees
unmercifully and had made a network of cart roads all through it for
hauling out the firewood. There were only a few large trees left, more
or less scattered, and between them many open spaces in which were
thickets of small mesquites and thorn or patches of medium-sized
mesquites and hackberries. But we were not disappointed in the bird
life, for here and in other parts of Pima County, wherever there were
mesquites, we found Lucy's warblers really abundant and breeding. The
forest fairly teemed with bird life, from the graceful Mexican goshawks
soaring overhead to the Gambel's quails whistling on the ground. The
constant cooing of the white-winged doves was almost too monotonous, but
the rich song of the Arizona cardinal, mingled with the voices of the
orioles, towhees, wrens, and vireos made a delightful chorus, among
which the sweet song of Lucy's warbler was prominent.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1914) writes, referring to the Colorado Valley: "On
the California side, both at Riverside Mountain and above Blythe, Lucy
warblers were numerous, and very closely confined to the narrow belt of
mesquite. The singing males, each representing the forage area and
nesting site of a pair, were spaced out very uniformly, so that an
estimated strip of about 200 yards in length belonged to each. The birds
foraged out to a limited extent from the mesquites towards the river
into the arrowweed and willows, and away from the river at the mouths of
washes into the ironwoods and palo verdes. But the metropolis was always
most emphatically the mesquites."

_Nesting._--M. French Gilman (1909) had considerable experience with the
nesting habits of Lucy's warbler along the Gila River in Arizona, of
which he says:

Four general types of nesting sites were noticed, in the following order
of frequency: in natural cavities, under loose bark, in woodpecker
holes, and in deserted Verdins' nests. Of 23 nests observed, 12 were in
natural cavities, 4 under loose bark, 4 in woodpecker holes, and three
in Verdins' nests. Natural cavities were of various kinds. Some were
where a limb had been broken off; others in the crack made by a large
branch splitting from the trunk; and again a decayed spot furnisht a
sufficient hollow to conceal the nest. In all cases the site was in a
sheltered or protected position; that is, the trunk leaned enough to
shade the entrance from above. A mesquite tree was usually selected, tho
others were taken. Of the nests observed, 15 were in mesquites, 5 in
palo verde, 2 in ironwood, and one in catsclaw. * * *

The nests were small and compact and well hidden in their cavity. Only
twice did protruding material betray the location. In one case nesting
material protruded from a woodpecker hole, and the other was a bulky
nest that showed from each side of a split branch. This last nest I
thought must belong to a House Finch, but investigation showed warbler
ownership. Nests were made of bark, weeds, and mesquite leaf-stems, and
lined with fine bark, horse and cow hair, a few feathers and sometimes a
little rabbit fur. The site averaged six and one-half feet from the
ground, the lowest being 18 inches and the highest 15 feet. * * *

In nest-building the female seems to do all the work, her mate sometimes
accompanying her on trips to and from the tree, but more frequently
flitting about the tops of adjacent trees, occasionally uttering his
little warble. One pair I watcht had a nest in a Texas Woodpecker hole
in a palo verde tree about 15 feet from the ground. The female brought
material to the nest three times in two minutes, then a seven minute
interval, followed by two trips in three minutes. The male accompanied
her on two trips then made himself scarce. He indulged in no singing and
both birds were silent, tho in many cases one or both gave the call note
at intervals.

Others have mentioned nests of Lucy's warblers in verdins' nests,
probably all old winter nests of the male verdin, relined to suit the
warbler. O. W. Howard (1899) records such a nest and adds: "Other nests
were placed in crevices along river banks where roots of trees were
sticking out and one or two were found in natural cavities of the Giant
Cactus, or in woodpecker holes therein." We found a nest with young in a
cavity in the bleached skeleton of a fallen giant cactus, where I set up
my camera and took several photographs of the bird feeding the young. A
very pretty nest of this warbler is in the Thayer collection in
Cambridge; it was evidently built in the fork of a mesquite limb,
supported by a cluster of old and fresh, green twigs; it is made
externally of the leaves, petioles, fine green twigs, and flower
clusters of the mesquite and is decorated with a few feathers of the
white-winged dove; it is lined internally with fine fibers, white cows'
hair and black horsehair, and more dove feathers; it measures 4 by 3
inches in outside diameter and 2 by 1-1/3 inside; the outside height is
nearly 3 inches, and the inside cup is about 1-3/4 inches deep. A set in
my collection was taken from a hole 3 feet above the base of a sandy
bank along a wash near the San Pedro River, in Arizona.

_Eggs._--Lucy's warbler lays from 3 to 7 eggs, but the set usually
consists of 4 or 5; the larger sets are rare, but O. W. Howard has found
two sets of 7, and several sets of 6 have been recorded. The eggs are
ovate to short ovate and have very little lustre. The white or creamy
white ground color is finely speckled with shades of "chestnut," "bay,"
or "auburn." The eggs that have markings in the darker shades of
"chestnut" and "bay" frequently have a scattering of minute spots of
"brownish drab" that are often lacking on eggs with the lighter markings
of "auburn." The spots are usually concentrated at the large end. The
measurements of 50 eggs average 14.6 by 11.4 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =16.5= by 11.5, 14.6 by =12.0=, =13.2=
by 11.2, and 13.7 by =10.7= millimeters. (Harris.)

_Young._--The period of incubation seems to be unknown, and I can find
no information on the development and care of the young. Evidence points
to the conclusion that incubation and brooding are performed entirely by
the female, and that at least two broods are reared in a season. Mr.
Swarth (1905) says that "several broods are probably raised, as
unfinished nests and incomplete sets were found at the same time that
broods of young as large as the adults were seen flying about."

_Plumages._--Ridgway (1902) says that the young in juvenal plumage are
"essentially like adults, but much clearer white beneath; no trace of
chestnut on crown; upper tail-coverts ochraceous-buff instead of
chestnut; middle and greater wing-coverts tipped with whitish or pale
buffy, producing two rather distinct bars." He might have added that the
tertials are edged with cinnamon, and that the primaries and rectrices
are edged and tipped with white.

There is apparently a partial postjuvenal molt, some time during the
summer, when all the plumage except the flight feathers, remiges, and
rectrices, is renewed. Young birds now become very similar to adults,
but can be recognized by the juvenal wings and tail until the edgings
wear off. I can find no evidence of a prenuptial molt in either young or
old birds. I have seen adults in complete postnuptial molt in August.
Fall birds are tinged with brown above and with pale brownish buff
below; the chestnut crown patch is concealed by very broad brownish gray
tips. Females are not always distinguishable from males, but usually the
chestnut on the crown and upper tail coverts is paler and more

_Food._--Nothing definite seems to have been published on the food
of Lucy's warbler, but it is evidently largely, if not wholly,
insectivorous, as it is often seen foraging in the foliage and flower
clusters of the mesquites and in other trees. Dr. W. P. Taylor tells me
that he has seen it feeding on the pendant sprays of ocotillo flowers,
probably gleaning insects or other materials from the exterior. In late
spring when the mesquites, palo verdes, the various cacti, and even the
saguaros burst into full bloom, these gorgeous desert plants are a blaze
of color and attract myriads of insects.

_Behavior._--Mr. Gilman (1909) says that "shyness about the nest seems
to be characteristic of these birds." He was seldom able to flush one
from its nest. "In three cases only, did the parent birds show what
might be called proper amount of solicitude when the nest was approacht.
Some of them seemed rather touchy about their nests, leaving them if
the nest were toucht even so lightly." Some nests, with incomplete sets,
were deserted after they had been inspected; but others were not. "They
took good care not to sing in the nest tree, preferring to confine their
performances to trees some distance away. The male would frequently meet
me several rods from the nest and flit from tree to tree singing at
short intervals. Once I made a complete circuit of the nest tree and he
accompanied me the entire distance. This was an exceptional case of
course. While going from tree to tree and singing, the bird usually
tried to keep hidden as much as possible and was rather successful in
the effort."

However nest-shy the bird may be when there are eggs in the nest that
she does not want discovered, the bird that I watched was not at all shy
about her nest, nor was she lacking in parental devotion. For, although
my camera stood within a few feet of the nest and I was standing beside
it in plain sight, she came repeatedly to feed her young. I should say
that these birds are more retiring than shy.

W. L. Dawson (1923) writes: "Albeit an active creature and zealous in
song, the Lucy Warbler becomes almost invisible in its habitual setting,
and the difficulty of detection is heightened by the bird's instinctive
wariness. Again and again I have known a bird which had seemed quite
engrossed in song to fall silent at the stir of a footstep a hundred
yards away."

_Voice._--Mr. Dawson (1923) says: "The Lucy Warbler is a loud and
industrious singer, but the song has a curious generic quality very
difficult to describe. It is _Warbler_ song, rather than the song of the
Lucy Warbler. It is, perhaps, most like that of the Pileolated Warbler
(_Wilsonia pileolata_) in quality. After that, it reminds one of the
Yellow Warbler's song, having the same vivacious cadence, but not being
so sharply piercing. Again its breathless, haphazard quality suggests
one of the Buntings; and I once followed its tantalizing seductions for
half an hour under the delusion that I was on the track of the coveted
Beautiful Bunting (_Passerina versicolor pulchra_)."

Dr. Grinnell (1914) says that the song "resembles the song of the Sonora
yellow warbler in length and frequency of utterance and somewhat in
quality, but with a distinct hurried and lisping effect reminding one of
the song of the Lazuli bunting." Several others have noted the
resemblance to the song of the yellow warbler. Mrs. Florence Merriam
Bailey (1923) puts the song in syllables as follows: "_whee-tee,
whee-tee, whee-tee, whee-tee, whee-tee, whee-tee, whee-tee, whee-tee,
whee-tee, wheet_, and its call was a faint _chip_."

_Field marks._--There are no very striking marks on Lucy's warbler; it
is clothed in quiet colors and in general appearance suggests a warbling
vireo. The chestnut crown patch of the male can be seen under favorable
conditions, but on the female it is seldom in evidence. The chestnut
upper tail coverts can be seen only when the bird is in certain
positions. Its activity will mark it as a wood warbler, and it is the
only one of this family likely to be found on its breeding grounds among
the mesquites in the nesting season.

_Enemies._--Mr. Howard (1899) says that "many nests are destroyed by
wood-rats and snakes." And Mr. Dawson (1923) writes:

Dwarf Cowbirds are prominent in the formidable host of enemies which
this tiny bird must face. Sometimes the warblers are able to entrench
themselves behind apertures so narrow that the Cowbird cannot get in;
and once we saw the Cowbird's foundling resting unharmed, but also
harmless, upon the "doorstep," not less than two inches distant from
the warbler's eggs. Another nest, more exposed, contained three eggs
of the arch enemy, and had been deserted by the troubled owners. The
Gila Woodpecker is an especially persistent enemy. Accustomed as he is
to poking and prying, he seems to take a fiendish delight in discovering
and devouring as many Lucy Warblers' eggs as possible. We caught several
of these villains red-handed, and we found reason to believe that more
than half of the nests in a certain section had been wrecked by them.
Add to these the depredations of lizards, snakes, and, possibly, rats,
and the wonder is that these tiny gray waifs are able to reproduce at


_Range._--Southwestern United States to central Mexico.

_Breeding range._--Lucy's warbler breeds =north= to southern Utah
(Beaverdam Wash, Zion National Park; Calf Creek, Garfield County; and
the San Juan River); and southwestern Colorado (Montezuma County near
Four Corners). =East= to Colorado (near Four Corners); western New
Mexico (Shiprock, possibly San Antonio, mouth of Mogollon Creek, and
Redrock); southeastern Arizona (Bisbee); and northeastern Sonora
(Moctezuma). =South= to northern Sonora (Moctezuma and Sáric); southern
Arizona (Baboquivari Mountains, Menager's Dam, and Gadsden); and
southern California (Picacho and Silsbee). =West= to southern California
(Silsbee, Mecca possibly, and Chemehuevis Valley); western Arizona (Fort
Mojave); and southwestern Utah (Beaverdam Wash).

_Winter range._--The few available records place the winter home of
Lucy's warbler in central western Mexico from Jalisco (Bolaños and Lake
Chapala) to eastern Guerrero (Iguala).

_Migration._--Few migration dates are available for a species with such
a limited range. Early dates of arrival are: Arizona--Tucson, March 12.
California--Mecca, March 29. Utah--St. George, March 23. A late
departure date is: Arizona--Tombstone, October 3.

_Egg dates._--Arizona: 58 records, April 22 to June 27; 30 records, May
2 to 21, indicating the height of the season.



PLATES 20, 21


I have always preferred the old name, blue yellow-backed warbler, as
originally used by Wilson and Audubon, to the modern common name; it
seems more descriptive of this dainty wood warbler. As to the origin of
this newer name, Dr. Spencer Trotter (1909) writes: "The name 'parula'
recently in vogue for the warblers of the genus _Compsothlypis_ is
clearly borrowed from the old Bonaparte genus _Parula_ (diminutive of
titmouse). The bird (_C. americana_) has appeared under various
titles--'the Finch Creeper' of Catesby (I, 64), 'the various coloured
little finch creeper' of Bartram (Travels, 292), and the 'Blue
Yellow-backed Warbler' of Wilson, Audubon, and later authors." _Parula_
was extensively used as the generic name during the last century, and is
now reinstated to replace _Compsothlypis_.

The 1931 A. O. U. Check-List of North American Birds recognizes only two
races of this species, the subject of this present sketch, _P. a.
pusilla_, and the southern race, _P. a. americana_. The two forms
together occupy a breeding range covering practically all of the United
States east of the Great Plains, as well as parts of southern Canada,
the type name being restricted to the birds breeding from the District
of Columbia southward to Alabama and Florida.

Ridgway (1902) describes the northern bird as "similar to _C. a.
americana_, but slightly larger, with smaller bill and darker, richer
coloration; adult male with blue of upper parts deeper, and black of
lores more intense; lower throat or upper chest (sometimes both)
blackish or dusky (the feathers sometimes tipped with chestnut), forming
a more or less distinct, often very conspicuous band; lower chest
orange-tawny, tawny, or chestnut (the feathers usually margined with
yellow) forming usually a distinct and often abruptly defined patch;
sides usually more or less tinged or spotted with chestnut."

In the same work, he describes a third form, _C. a. ramalinae_, as
"similar in coloration to" the northern bird, "but smaller even than _C.
a. americana_." He gives as its range the Mississippi Valley, from
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to Minnesota and Michigan. This
western race is not recognized in the 1931 A. O. U. Check-List.

Our experience with the northern parula warbler in Bristol County,
Mass., well illustrates the successive changes that nature and man have
wrought in the distribution of so many of our birds. Many years ago,
perhaps early in the last century or before, some hardy pioneers hewed
out a clearing in the forest that clothed the slopes of Rocky Hill in
Rehoboth, Mass., planted an apple orchard, and surrounded it with stone
walls. All traces of the old farm, if ever there had been one,
disappeared before I first visited the locality in 1888, and the forest
had begun to encroach on the old clearing. The apple trees even then
showed signs of old age and were profusely covered with long festoons of
that picturesque tree lichen, often called beard-moss or old-man's-beard
(_Usnea barbata_, _U. longissima_, or _U. trichodea_). This old orchard
was a mecca for all local oologists, and many a set of eggs of the blue
yellow-backed warbler was taken from it during succeeding years. As time
passed, the old trees gradually died, the _Usnea_ disappeared, the
warblers ceased breeding there, and the forest eventually reclaimed the
land until today only the ancient stone walls remain to mark the locally
famous haunt of the blue yellow-backs.

I can remember several other old, neglected orchards that were similarly
decorated with the long, gray-green lichen and that were inhabited by
parula warblers as nesting sites, but they all suffered the same fate;
the orchard trees decayed and were replaced by woods and thickets.
During the early part of the present century this warbler continued to
breed commonly in Bristol County wherever it could find trees infested
with _Usnea_--around the edges of swamps and along the shores of ponds,
lakes, and sluggish streams; but now this lichen seems for some reason
to have entirely disappeared from the County, and the parula warbler has
likewise disappeared, although it may still breed in a few similar
localities on Cape Cod, Mass., where I have found it a few times in more
recent years.

Localities such as those described above seem to be typical of the
breeding haunts of the northern parula warbler, at least in New England,
southern New York, and New Jersey. Whether the presence of _Usnea_ is a
sine qua non for the breeding haunts of this wood warbler is an open
question; but it may safely be said that where this lichen grows in
abundance one is almost sure to find it breeding; and conversely, where
this lichen is scarce or lacking, the warbler breeds sparingly or not at

Farther westward, northward, and southward, where _Usnea_ is scarce or
entirely absent, these warblers seem to find congenial haunts in hemlock
ravines and in other coniferous woods and swamps; but even there they
are more likely to be found where there is at least some of one species
or another of this lichen, or where the somewhat similar Spanish moss
(_Tillandsia usneoides_) grows.

_Spring._--Parula warblers that have wintered in the West Indies reach
southern Florida during the first week in March. Dr. Wetmore (1916) says
that it "was the most common of the migrant warblers in Porto Rico.
* * * Migratory movement was apparent among them by February 14, and after
this the birds were very restless, especially during early morning, and
there was tendency to work from the east to west. In March and April
there were distinct waves of migration." But it is well on toward the
middle of May before the first migrants reach the northern limits of
their breeding range.

Professor Cooke's (1904) records show that the migrants from Mexico and
Central America reach the Louisiana coast by the very last of February
or early March, while the first arrivals on the lower Rio Grande, in
Texas, come two or three weeks later. He observes:

A comparison of the dates shows, first, that the parula warbler arrives
in Texas much later than in either of the other States, and hence does
not reach the Mississippi Valley by way of Texas; second, that it
arrives in northern Florida at least ten days later than it attains the
same latitude in Louisiana. From these two facts it would appear that
Louisiana is reached by direct flight across the Gulf of Mexico. The
average date of arrival at New Orleans coincides closely with the date
when the first migrants arrive at the southern end of Florida. It would
seem that the birds of Mexico and Cuba are prompted to move northward at
the same time, but the flight over the Gulf of Mexico being so much
longer than that from Cuba to Florida, the Mexican birds reach a higher
latitude by their initial flight.

There are other interesting details in Cooke's account to which the
reader is referred.

During migration the parula warbler does not frequent haunts typical of
its breeding ground; in fact such are not to be found in much of the
country over which it travels; nor does it especially frequent the
coniferous woods to which it is partial in summer. It is to be found
almost anywhere, in many kinds of trees, though it seems to show a
decided preference for deciduous woods. There, it may often be seen
drifting through the highest tree-tops in mixed groups of migrating wood
warblers, gleaning insects amidst the freshly opening foliage. Referring
to the Buckeye Lake region in Ohio, Milton B. Trautman (1940) writes:
"The transient Parula Warblers usually displayed a preference for large
pin oak and shingle oak trees and a marked preference for one shingle
oak in particular. This oak was in the Lakeside Woods, and more Parula
Warblers were observed in it than in all of the remaining trees of the
woodland. A transient often displays a marked preference for certain
types of trees, but it appears unusual for a single tree among many of
the same kind to retain yearly so marked an attraction for a particular
bird species."

The migrating parula warbler is often seen in roadside trees and in
shade trees in parks and gardens. It even visits our orchards, where one
of the most charming sights of springtime is to see this gay-colored,
tiny warbler flitting about in search of insects among the apple
blossoms, a delightful bit of color contrast in a beautiful setting.

_Nesting._--The nests of the northern parula warbler that we used to
find in southern Massachusetts were all located in haunts similar to
those described, and mostly in old orchards heavily festooned with beard
moss (_Usnea_). We could usually find three to five nests in a
well-populated orchard, but they were so well hidden in the hanging moss
that we may have overlooked some. A casual observer would never notice
one, but with practice we learned to recognize a rounded, cuplike, thick
place in a bunch of _Usnea_ as indicating a nest. The nests were usually
made in bunches of moss that hung from horizontal or sloping branches
and were from 5 to 15 feet above the ground, more being below than above
12 feet. Some nests were in red cedars, or savins (_Juniperus
virginiana_), scattered among other trees or growing in open stands by
themselves; they were located in bunches of _Usnea_ close to the center
of the tree and often within reach from the ground. Occasionally,
isolated trees on the edges of swamps or on the shores of ponds were
sufficiently covered with the lichen to contain nests, and these were
sometimes as much as 20 feet above the ground. The nearest approach to a
colony that I ever found was in a small cedar swamp, not over an acre in
extent, that jutted out from the shore of a lake into rather deep water.

The white cedars (_Chamaecyparis thuyoides_) were growing in water that
was waist deep or more in places, and the whole place was so obstructed
with fallen trees and sunken snags that it was very difficult to explore
thoroughly; I managed to find some half a dozen nests, and there may
have been others, for many of the trees were well "bearded."

The nests that we have found have all been very simple affairs,
apparently merely pockets hollowed out in bunches of hanging _Usnea_,
with side entrances slightly above the cups. Some nests were small and
suspended only 2 or 3 inches below the supporting branch, practically
open baskets accessible from directly above; others were found in long,
thick bunches, a foot or more in length, with long streamers hanging
below the nest. External measurements were therefore quite variable.
Many of the nests were unlined, save with a soft bed of fine shreds of
_Usnea_, some were scantily lined with a few pieces of fine grass, two
or three pine needles, one or two horsehairs, or a few bits of
buff-colored down from the stems of ferns; rarely, a nest was more
elaborately lined with the latter material but never as profusely as are
the nests of other wood warblers.

Apparently the nests were also difficult to find in Connecticut; "J. M.
W." (C. L. Rawson, 1888), who has probably taken more eggs of the blue
yellow-backed warbler than any other man, says that the older
ornithologists did not realize "that the three Southern New England
States were about the centre of its breeding range," until he began
sending eggs to Dr. T. M. Brewer. Thomas Nuttall (1833) remarked: "The
nest and eggs are yet unknown."

Rawson found the parula warbler nesting in colonies near Norwich, Conn.,
and says:

I know a swamp where may be found seventy-five pairs of these summer
residents. The first time I visited the Preston colony on the 31st of
May, I took eight sets of four. The first time I visited another large
community in this county on June 5, on a point of land trending into
salt water, I took eleven sets of four. * * *

The nests are built on dead or green trees, and on savins or deciduous
trees, at varying heights. I took one from the single filament of moss
caught on the green twig of a birch, within five inches of the ground,
and others close to the trunks of great oaks fifty feet in the air. On
the lower swamp, huckleberry brush in the littoral colony is a favorite

William Brewster (1906) mentions only one nest taken in the neighborhood
of Cambridge, Mass., a region where _Usnea_ is scarce:

In shape and general plan of construction the nest closely resembles
that of a Baltimore Oriole. It has no hole in the side but instead a
wide-mouthed opening at the top through which the bird entered it as the
Oriole enters her nest. The upper edges and sides were securely fastened
to the fine terminal twigs of a drooping branch where the nest hung
suspended among the evergreen foliage of the hemlock, precisely as the
Oriole's hammock swings in the dropping spray of an elm. The Warbler's
nest has a scanty lining of pine needles and fine grasses but it is
otherwise composed entirely of _Usnea_, loosely woven or perhaps merely
felted together, evidently by the parent birds. They must have been at
some pains to collect this material, for the closest scrutiny on the
part of a friend and myself failed to reveal more than a few small and
scattered tufts of _Usnea_ in the surrounding woods.

Henry Mousley (1924, 1926, and 1928), of Hatley, Quebec, made three
attempts to make complete studies of the home life of the northern
parula warbler, none of which covered the whole cycle for reasons beyond
his control.

The nests were suspended from the branches of coniferous trees, at
heights ranging from 26 feet in a spruce to 40 feet in a balsam fir. One
of these nests was watched for a total of 24 hours, from May 22 to 31,
during the process of construction; during this time the male sang 549
times from a little birch and went with the female to the nest, but
brought no material; the female, however, made 206 trips with material,
an average of one load every 5.4 minutes. The nest was made entirely of
_Usnea_, all brought in, and lined with "some black hair-like rootlets,
with two bits of plant down"; it was strengthened with a few fine grass
stems. It weighed only 100 grains, or .23 ounce! "Outside diameter 3.25,
inside 1.75 inches; outside depth 2.50, inside 1.75 inches. The female
after selecting some of the longest threads of the hanging bunch of
_Usnea_, attached them to a little twig a few inches off, following this
up with that curious process--inherent--of moulding the nest, which in
this case, was really an acrobatic performance, there being of course no
apparent nest to mould, just a few strands, through which the bird's
tail and wings protruded."

Outside New England, where _Usnea_ is scarce, the nests are often built
in hanging clusters of twigs of hemlocks or spruces, with the use of
more or less of this lichen when available. In the lower Mississippi
Valley, Spanish moss (_Tillandsia usneoides_) offers a popular
substitute and is generally found growing in profusion. But some nests
are built of various other materials. George H. Stuart, 3d, writes to me
of a nest he found at Pocono Lake, Pa., on June 22, 1916: "This
remarkable nest was placed in a horizontal limb of a spruce, 20 feet up
and 12 feet from the trunk, near the tip and overhanging a road near the
lake." It was "composed mainly of fine dry grasses and the thinnest of
bark shreds, with a few bits of down, fashioned together oriole-like,
though loosely, with a few coarse grasses projecting suggesting the
handiwork of the magnolia warbler. The tiny basket was suspended from
the under side of the branch, partially supported by inclining twigs. In
form it is an inverted cone or pear, measuring 3 inches deep by 3 inches
wide at the rim, the thin walls tapering down to a narrow, pointed
bottom. The thinness of the walls in places revealed the eggs from a
side view."

Mrs. Nice (1931) reports a curious nest, found by Mr. Kirn near Copan,
Okla.; it was fastened to ivy leaves and to a stick which was hanging
down, held by the vine. "In this hanging, swaying cluster about two feet
long, the nest was built almost entirely of box elder blossoms held
together by spider webs on the outside, and sycamore seed down on the
inside with a light lining of fine strips of weed stems."

Several nests have been reported as built of various materials in
bunches of leaves and other rubbish deposited by freshlets on branches
over streams.

Because of the bird's habit of using various materials and sites in its
nest building, it may be well to mention some nesting records from the
southern Gulf States. Andrew Allison wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907):

The invariable nesting site is a clump of Spanish moss--where this it to
be had; I have not observed nests from beyond the range of this plant.
The nest is generally placed near the branch from which the long
filaments of the 'moss' depend, so that it is well concealed. The height
from the ground varies from about eight feet upwards. * * * The nest is
nearly hemispherical in shape, opening directly upward. The usual
material, in lower Louisiana, is thistle down, which is abundant during
the nesting season. Animal hairs are not used, I think. A nest from Bay
St. Louis was composed of the very black horse-hair-like inner fiber
resulting from the decay of _Tillandsia_.

M. G. Vaiden writes to me that he found a nest near Belzoni, Miss., in a
heavy oak swamp where there were clusters of _Usnea_ on practically all
of the trees. The nest was 16 feet above the ground and 12 feet out on a
limb of an oak; it was made like our northern nests and lined with the
"moss" and fine rootlets. Another described in his notes was entirely
different. It was in a section of Mississippi where there was no _Usnea_
growing within 60 miles. The nest was 6 feet from the ground and 4 feet
out in the crotch of a limb of a hackberry tree. A pretty nest, it was
nicely constructed of leaves and bark from cypress trees, and was lined
with small rootlets and very fine twigs.

_Eggs._--The usual set for the northern parula warbler consists of 4 or
5 eggs; 3 sometimes constitute a full set, and as many as 6 or 7 have
been found in a nest; there are 3 sets of 7 in the J. P. Norris
collection. The eggs are ovate or short ovate, have only a slight gloss,
and are white or creamy white, speckled and spotted with shades of
"russet," "chestnut," "bay," and "auburn," with a few underlying spots
of "brownish drab." There is much variation; on some eggs the "brownish
drab" color is entirely lacking, while on others spots of this color are
the most prominent markings; again, the eggs may be almost immaculate,
or may have just a few indistinct freckles of "pale wood brown" at the
large end. The measurements of 50 eggs average 16.5 by 12.1 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =18.3= by 12.7, 16.9 by
=12.9=, =14.8= by 11.9, and 16.3 by =11.2= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation does not seem to have been
determined, nor do we know how long the young remain in the nest.
Incubation of the eggs and brooding of the young is performed mainly by
the female, but the male assists in both to some extent. I have seen a
male leave a nest in which there were eggs; and Mr. Mousley (1924) saw a
male brood the young for a period of 4 minutes in the absence of the
female, but he left as soon as she returned. Both parents feed the
young. Mr. Mousley's table shows that during a watching period of 15
hours the male fed the young 45 times and the female fed them only 21
times; the average rate of feeding was once in 13.6 minutes; during this
time the male brooded once and the female 34 times, a total of 11 hours
and 27 minutes. He "noticed that the food the male brought consisted
almost invariably of soft green larvae, whereas, that of the female more
often than not consisted of insects, and the portions she brought were
usually smaller in proportion than those of her partner."

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) says that the natal down is "smoke-gray."
The sexes are alike in the juvenal plumage, which Ridgway (1902)
describes as "above plain slate-gray, slightly tinged with olive-green;
middle and greater wing-coverts narrowly tipped with white; chin and
upper throat pale yellowish; lower throat, chest, sides, and flanks
plain light gray (intermediate between mouse gray and gray no. 6);
abdomen, anal region, and under tail-coverts white; remiges and
rectrices as in adults."

A postjuvenal molt, involving all the contour plumage and the wing
coverts but not the rest of the wings or the tail, begins about the
middle of July. This produces a first winter plumage in which old and
young birds are very much alike and the sexes are recognizable. The
young male differs little from the adult male, but the bluish gray of
the upper parts is more heavily tinged with olive-green, the yellow of
the under parts is duller, and the dark throat band is more or less
obscured by yellowish tips on the feathers. The young female differs
from the adult female in a similar way and is without any brown throat

Dr. Dwight (1900) says that the first nuptial plumage is "acquired by a
partial prenuptial moult which involves chiefly the head, chin and
throat, but not the rest of the body plumage, the wings nor the tail.
The ashy blue crown feathers faintly dusky centrally, the blackish ones
of the sides of the head with a white spot above and below the eye and
the yellow or chestnut-tinged chin feathers as far as the pectoral band
or farther are assumed by moult. Wear brings the back into contrast with
the nape and whitens the lower parts. The wings and tail are browner and
more worn than in the adult, especially the primary coverts."

A first postnuptial molt in July and early August, which is complete,
produces the fully adult plumage. Fall males are similar to spring
males, but the blue areas are more or less tipped with greenish and the
throat bands with yellowish. Fall females differ in the same way from
the spring birds, and there is little, if any, chestnut and no blackish
in the throat band.

Subsequent molts and plumages are the same as described above for the
young birds.

Charles C. Ayres, Jr., writes to me of a bird he observed near Ottumwa,
Iowa: "It was a typical parula warbler with the exception that the
blue-gray color extended over the throat and terminated abruptly on the
upper breast. Immediately below the termination of the blue-gray color
was the well-defined orange-brown breast band, below which the rest of
the breast was yellow."

_Food._--The parula warbler is almost wholly insectivorous. Its food is
mainly obtained in the deciduous trees, where it is often seen among the
branches and twigs or hanging downward under a cluster of leaves or
blossoms like a chickadee searching for small insects, beetles, flies,
moths, larvae, and egg clusters. Some flying insects are taken on the
wing; and occasionally the bird may be seen feeding on the ground.

Dr. Wetmore (1916) reports on the contents of 61 stomachs from Porto
Rico, which contained 97.7 percent animal matter and only 2.3 percent
vegetable matter. The latter "consisted of seeds of small berries of the
camacey (_Miconia prasina_) and others." In the animal food, beneficial
insects and a large number of spiders amounted to about 35 percent, and
the remainder were all harmful pests. "Lantern flies (Fulgoridae) (19.09
percent) were identified in 29 stomachs. * * * Other bugs (3.69 percent)
comprise small numbers of leaf bugs, species of the chinch bug family,
stink-bugs, and a few predaceous assassin bugs. The birds are fond of
beetles, and this order supplies 22.53 percent of the food, nearly all
being injurious species. Ladybird beetles (1.36 percent) were present in
14 stomachs. Longicorn beetles (1.68 percent) were taken 11 times, and
leaf beetles of several species (7.95 percent) were eaten by 30 of these
birds." Other beetles taken included darkling beetles, skin beetles,
scarred-snout weevils, coffee leaf-weevils, stalk borers, and curculios.
Among other items were a few ants and other small Hymenoptera (3.57
percent) and flies (1.19 percent). Caterpillars were found in 18
stomachs and moths in 4. Spiders (29.53 percent) were identified in 29
stomachs. Stuart T. Danforth (1925), from Puerto Rico, adds berries of
_Varronia angustifolia_ and fleabeetles, and says that large moth eggs
were eaten by two birds, forming 25 percent of their food. Forbush
(1929) says that "it feeds much on small hairless inch-worms, such as
the fall canker-worm and the spring canker-worm, and on the younger and
smaller hairy caterpillars, such as the gipsy and the tent caterpillar."

_Behavior._--The parula warbler is less active in its movements, more
sedate and deliberate, than most of the other tree-top wood warblers.

It creeps along the branches and hops from twig to twig, often clinging
to the under side of a cluster like a chickadee, an action that led some
of the early writers to refer to it as a small titmouse, and it
sometimes clings to the trunk of a tree like a nuthatch in its search
for food. The birds are fearless and confiding, and are easily
approached. Even when their nest is disturbed they come within a few
feet of the intruder, making little, if any, protest or demonstration.
George B. Sennett (1878) tells the following story, illustrating the
confiding nature of the bird:

Just before we sighted land, imagine our surprise and joy to see a
little Blue Yellow-backed Warbler on our mast. It soon flew down to the
sail and thence to the deck, where, after a few moments, it felt quite
at home. Our sailor caught him, and he was passed around for all to
admire and pet. It would nestle in our hands and enjoy the warmth
without the least fear. When allowed his freedom, he would hop upon us,
fly from one to another, and dart off over the side of the boat as if
taking his departure; when lo! back he would come with a fly or moth he
had seen over the water and had captured. Several flies were caught in
this way. He searched over the whole boat and into the hold for insects.
Often he would fly to one or the other of us, as we were lying on the
deck, and into our hands and faces, with the utmost familiarity. He
received our undivided attention, but could have been no happier than
we. Upon reaching shore, amid the confusion of landing we lost sight
forever of our pretty friend.

_Voice._--The parula warbler has a simple, but to my ears a very
distinctive, song. In 1900 I recorded the song in my notes as
"_pree-e-e-e-e-e-e, yip_, a somewhat prolonged trill like a pine
warbler's, but fainter and more insect-like, ending abruptly in the
short _yip_ with a decided emphasis." I have always been able to
recognize it by the explosive ending, which I never heard from any other
wood warbler.

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) as follows:

The Parula is weak-voiced, and its call notes, as far as I know, are
slight and barely peculiar; but it has at least three main songs, with
great range of variations.

All may be recognized, or at least distinguished from the weak songs of
the _Dendroicae_, like the Blackburnian and Bay-breast, by their beady,
buzzy tones. In phrasing, in everything but tone-quality, certain
variations of the Parula's and of the Blackburnian's songs very nearly
meet and overlap; but the tell-tale tones remain unchanged,--wheezy and
beady in the one, smooth as glass in the other. Commonest of the
Northern Parula's three main songs is probably the short, unbroken buzz,
uttered on an evenly-ascending scale, and ending abruptly, with a slight
accentuation of the final note. Next is that which begins with several
notes of the same beady character, but clearly separated, and finishes,
likewise on an ascending scale, with a brief congested buzz. The third
main song is based on an inversion of the second--a buzz followed by a
few separate drawled notes, high-pitched like the buzz-ending of the two
other songs. All these vary and intervary perplexingly.

Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following notes on the song of this
warbler: "The parula warbler has two distinct types of song. One is a
simple buzzy trill rising in pitch, and frequently terminated by a
short, sharp note of lower pitch. Of 12 records of this song, 7 have the
terminal note and 5 do not. The other form has the same buzz-like
quality, but begins with three or four short notes on the same pitch,
followed by a longer, higher note that is frequently, but not always,
slurred upward. Both songs are similar in length and in pitch intervals.
They vary from 1-1/5 to 1-3/5 seconds in length. The rise in pitch
varies from one to four and a half tones, and averages about two tones.
The actual pitch is exceedingly variable in individuals and varies from
A´´´ to D´´´´´. Songs vary considerably in loudness, many of them
becoming suddenly louder toward the end.

"The species sings throughout migration, and on the breeding grounds
till late July. At that season I have seen males still singing while
feeding young just out of the nest."

_Enemies._--Dr. Friedmann (1929) writes; "This bird is practically free
from that greatest enemy of most of the warblers, the Cowbird.
Occasionally, however, parasitic eggs are found in the dainty pensile
nests of the Parula Warbler. Stone found a nest on May 26, 1892, at Cape
May Point, New Jersey, containing three eggs of the Warbler and one of
the Cowbird. * * * Five other records have come to my notice, from Long
Island, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and the bird is listed
as a victim of the Cowbird by several writers, as Bendire, Davie, and
Chapman." Mrs. Nice (1931) records two more cases in Oklahoma.

Harold S. Peters (1936) records two lice, _Myrsidea incerta_ (Kellogg)
and _Ricinius_ sp., as external parasites on this species.

_Field marks._--The parula, is one of our smallest warblers. The adult
male is well marked, with its blue upper parts, the yellow back being
inconspicuous, two conspicuous white wing bands, black lores, yellow
breast and chestnut or blackish throat band. The female is duller in all
colors, more greenish above and has little or no throat band. Young
birds are even less conspicuously marked, as noted in the description of

_Fall._--As soon as the young are strong on the wing the family parties
desert their breeding grounds, and after the molting season is finished
they resort to the deciduous woods and join the migrating hosts of
warblers and other small birds drifting southward through the tree-tops
or along the roadside shade trees. The fall migration is apparently a
reversal of the springtime routes, as they travel to their winter haunts
in Mexico and the West Indies. Professor Cooke (1904) says that this
warbler "passes through Florida in countless thousands, being second
only to the black-throated blue warbler in the frequency with which it
strikes the lighthouses. * * * By the middle of September the great
flights begin and continue in full force for a month."


_Range._--Southern Canada to Nicaragua and the West Indies.

_Breeding range._--The Parula warbler breeds =north= to southern
Manitoba (Shoal Lake and Caddy Lake); central Ontario (Off Lake,
Rossport, and Lake Abitibi); and southern Quebec (Lake Timiskaming, Blue
Sea Lake, Gaspé Peninsula, and Anticosti Island). =East= to Anticosti
Island (Fox Bay); Prince Edward Island (Tignish); Nova Scotia (Halifax
and Yarmouth); and the Atlantic coast south to central Florida (Deer
Park, Lake Gentry, and St. Lucie). =South= to central Florida (St.
Lucie, Bull Creek Swamp, and Tarpon Springs) and the Gulf coast to
south-central Texas (Houston and San Antonio). =West= to central Texas
(San Antonio and Kerrville); eastern Oklahoma (Caddo, red Oak, and
Copan); eastern Kansas (Neosha Falls, Topeka, and Leavenworth); central
Iowa (Des Moines); north-central Minnesota (Cass Lake and Itasca); and
southeastern Manitoba (Shoal Lake).

_Winter range._--The parula warbler winters =north= to southern
Tamaulipas (Tampico); occasionally southern Florida (Tarpon Springs,
Sanibel Island, and Miami); the Bahamas Islands (Nassau and Caicos);
Hispaniola (Tortue Island and Samaná); Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands
(St. Thomas); and the Lesser Antilles (Saba). =East= to the Lesser
Antilles (Saba, St. Christopher, Guadaloupe, and Barbados). =South= to
the Lesser Antilles (Barbados); Jamaica (Kingston); and Nicaragua (Río
Escondido). =West= to Nicaragua (Río Escondido); El Salvador (Barra de
Santiago); western Guatemala (San José and Escuintla); southern Oaxaca
(Tehuantepec); Veracruz (Tlacotalpan); and Tamaulipas (Tampico).

The above range is for the species as a whole, of which two geographic
races are recognized: the southern parula warbler (_P. a. americana_)
breeds in southeastern United States from Maryland southward, east of
the mountains; the northern parula warbler (_P. a. pusilla_) breeds in
the western and northern portion of the range.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
El Salvador--Barra de Santiago, April 18. Guatemala--San José, March 7.
Yucatán--San Felipe, April 4. Virgin Islands--St. Croix, April 30.
Puerto Rico--Mayagüez, May 7. Haiti--Port au Prince, April 4.
Cuba--Habana, May 4. Bahamas--Cay Lobos, May 14.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Daytona Beach, March 3.
Alabama--Coosada, March 25. Georgia--Savannah, March 8. South
Carolina--Frogmore, March 5. North Carolina--Washington, March 26.
West Virginia--Bluefield, April 9. District of Columbia--Washington,
April 6. Pennsylvania--Carlisle, April 25. New York--Shelter Island,
April 23. Massachusetts--Stoughton, April 25. Vermont--St. Johnsbury,
April 21. Maine--Portland, April 29. Nova Scotia--Wolfville, May 8.
New Brunswick--St. Stephen, May 9. Quebec--Quebec, May 10.
Louisiana--New Orleans, February 15. Mississippi--Bay St. Louis,
March 5. Arkansas--Helena, March 24. Tennessee--Athens, April 3.
Kentucky--Eubank, April 4. Indiana--Bloomington, April 21.
Ohio--Columbus, April 28. Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 29. Ontario--Toronto,
May 2. Missouri--Columbia, April 5. Iowa--Grinnell, April 28.
Wisconsin--Madison, April 30. Minnesota--Red Wing, May 5. Texas--Hidalgo,
March 5. Oklahoma--Caddo, March 25. Kansas--Independence, April 8.
Nebraska--Havelock, April 20.

Late dates of fall departure are: Minnesota--St. Paul, October 5.
Wisconsin--Milwaukee, October 9. Missouri--St. Louis, October 5.
Ontario--Point Pelee, October 5. Michigan--Grand Rapids, October 19.
Ohio--Toledo, October 19. Indiana--Richmond, October 14.
Tennessee--Nashville, October 3. Arkansas--Monticello, October 2.
Louisiana--Covington, October 26. Mississippi--Gulfport, November 2.
Quebec--Hatley, September 30. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake, September 28.
Maine--Portland, October 24. New Hampshire--Hanover, October 11.
Massachusetts--Rockport, October 25. New York--Rhinebeck, October 21.
Pennsylvania--Berwyn, October 26. District of Columbia, Washington,
October 17. West Virginia--French Creek, October 1. Virginia--Lynchburg,
October 17. North Carolina--Rocky Mount, October 23. South
Carolina--Charleston, October 22. Georgia--Athens, November 4.
Florida--Gainesville, November 19.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Bahamas--Watling Island, September 28.
Cuba--Habana, August 10. Dominican Republic--San Juan, October 21.
Puerto Rico--Parguera, September 19. Nicaragua--Río Escondido, October
20. Costa Rica--Villa Quesada, October 24.

_Banding._--Only a single migration record is available from banded
birds. A parula warbler banded as an adult at Flushing, Long Island, New
York, on September 16, 1946, was found dead about October 1, 1947, at La
Grange, Maine.

_Casual records._--The parula warbler has been recorded three times in
Colorado (in El Paso County, at Kit Carson, and at Denver); and three
times in Wyoming (once at Cheyenne and twice at Torrington).

_Egg dates._--Massachusetts: 52 records, May 20 to July 7; 29 records,
May 29 to June 10, indicating the height of the season.

Connecticut: 39 records, May 25 to June 25; 25 records, June 1 to 10.

South Carolina: 20 records, April 10 to June 24; 10 records, April 30 to
May 11.





This southern race of our well-known blue yellow-backed warbler is said
to breed from the District of Columbia southward to Florida and Alabama.
William Brewster (1896), in describing and naming the northern race,
restricted the Linnaean name _americana_ to the southern bird because it
was evidently based on Catesby's excellent plate, drawn from a bird
taken in South Carolina. In his comparative diagnoses of the two forms,
he describes the southern bird as "averaging slightly smaller but with
longer bill. Adult male with more yellow on the under parts and less
black or blackish on the lores and malar region; the dark collar across
the jugulum narrow, obscure, often nearly wanting; the chest pale,
diffuse russet, without obvious markings." He admits that no one of
these characters is quite constant, the best one being the depth and
definition of the reddish brown on the chest. And he suggests that the
distribution of the two forms in the breeding season may be roughly
correlated with the distribution of _Usnea_ in the north and of
_Tillandsia_ in the south, in which the two forms, respectively, seem to
prefer to build their nests. This, however, is not strictly accurate or
universal (for example, see some remarks by M. G. Vaiden, under the
preceding form, on the breeding of this species in two different
localities in Mississippi).

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says of the haunts of the southern bird in South
Carolina: "As soon as the sweet gum trees begin to bud, the song of this
beautiful bird is heard. It heralds the approach of spring and is one of
the first warblers to arrive which does not winter. The range of this
species in the breeding season is entirely governed by the presence or
absence of the Spanish moss, and where the moss is growing in profusion
the birds are common, but where the moss is absent the birds are
absolutely not to be found."

A. H. Howell (1932) calls this southern subspecies "an abundant spring
and fall migrant [in Florida]; a common summer resident south at least
to Osceola County; and a rare winter resident, chiefly in the central
and southern part. Owing to the presence of a few wintering individuals,
it is difficult to determine when spring migration begins. * * *
Positive evidence of migration is furnished by the appearance of large
numbers striking the light on Sombrero Key, March 3, 1889, when 250
birds were observed and 30 were killed. This species is one of the most
numerous and regular visitants at the lighthouses on the east coast and
on the Keys." Many of these were, of course, the northern race. Of the
haunts of the southern race, he says: "The dainty little Parula Warbler
is found most frequently in cypress swamps or heavily timbered
bottom-lands, and to a lesser extent in the upland hammocks. The
abundant Spanish moss on the trees furnishes ideal nesting sites for the

_Nesting._--Except for the fact that the so-called Spanish moss
(_Tillandsia_) replaces the beard moss (_Usnea_), the nesting habits of
the two races are very much alike. A. T. Wayne (1910) says that in South
Carolina "the nest is always built in the festoons of the Spanish moss,
from eight to more than one hundred feet from the ground, and is
constructed of the flower of the moss and a few pieces of fine,
dry grass." The nesting habits in Florida are very similar.

In southeastern Virginia, according to Harold H. Bailey (1913) this
southern race is:--

a most common breeding bird in its favorite haunts, the cypress or
juniper swamps of the southeastern section; Cape Henry southward. These
trees seem to furnish particularly fine feeding grounds, and wherever
you find one festooned with the long, hanging Spanish moss, here also
you are likely to find one or more nests. In this section I should call
them a colony bird, for in days past I have seen on the trees in and
surrounding one small lake, as many as two hundred pair breeding in
company. The Dismal Swamp and its surrounding low territory has been
an ideal spot for a feeding and breeding home in years past, but of
late, the cutting of the juniper for commercial purposes, and the
disappearance of the moss to a great extent, has driven the majority
of the birds elsewhere.

_Eggs._--These are indistinguishable from those of the northern parula
warbler. The measurements of 50 eggs average 16.2 by 12.0 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =19.5= by =12.7= and =14.0=
by =11.0= millimeters (Harris).

_Food._--Howell (1932) reports: "Examination of the stomachs of four
birds taken in Florida in February showed the contents to consist almost
wholly of insects and spiders, with a few bud scales. Hymenoptera (ants,
bees and wasps) composed the largest item, amounting in two instances to
approximately half the total contents. Other insects taken in smaller
quantities were lepidopterous larvae, fly larvae, beetles, weevils,
scale insects, bugs, and grouse locusts. Spiders were found in three
stomachs, and amounted to about 20 per cent of the total food."




This northern race of a wide-ranging species is represented by a number
of allied races in Central and South America. From its range in
northeastern Mexico it rarely crosses our border into the valley of the
lower Rio Grande in southeastern Texas. For its introduction into our
fauna and for most of our knowledge of its habits we are indebted to
George B. Sennett (1878 and 1879) and to Dr. James C. Merrill (1878).
The discovery of the bird in Texas in 1877 is thus described by Mr.

On April 20th, soon after reaching Hidalgo, I was directed up the river
some four miles by road, and there shot the first three specimens of
this new species. On May 3d, another was shot among the mesquite timber
of the old resaca, within a mile of town.

On May 8th, another was shot in a dense forest about half a mile from
where the first three were obtained. Several more were seen; in fact,
they were more abundant than any other Warbler. * * * All of the
specimens obtained are males, and I remember of seeing none in pairs.
They were seen usually in little groups of three or four. They are by no
means shy, but frequenting, as they do, the woods, cannot be readily

He visited the locality again the following year and says in his report

It is truly a bird of the forest, and delights to be in the upper
branches of the tallest trees. The song of the male is almost continuous
as it flies about, and is so clear that it can be heard at a long
distance and readily distinguished from all other birds. By its notes we
could locate the bird, and this accounts for our securing so many more
males than females. Were it not for its song, I doubt if we would have
taken many, owing to their diminutive size and habit of frequenting the
tops of the forest-trees. As it was, by only taking such as came in our
way, we shot over twenty specimens, and could have taken any number more
had we set out for them alone. In feeding habits I could see nothing
different from our familiar Blue Yellow-back, _P. americana_.

Dr. Merrill (1878) says of its haunts: "Arrives about the third week in
March, and passes the summer among thick woods and near the edges of
lagoons where there is Spanish moss." We found Sennett's warbler fairly
common around Brownsville, especially on the edges of the resacas,
partially dry old river beds where the trees, mostly small mesquites,
are more or less draped with _Usnea_ and suggest the places where we
would look for parula warblers in the north.

In appearance and behavior they were strikingly reminiscent of our
northern friends. Sutton and Pettingill (1942) found this warbler up to
2,000 feet elevation in southwestern Tamaulipas, in full song on March
14, and a pair copulating on March 20.

_Nesting._--Dr. Merrill sent to Mr. Sennett (1878) the following
description of a nest he found near Brownsville after Mr. Sennett left:
"My nest of _Parula_ was taken July 5th, about five miles from here. It
was placed in a small thin bunch of hanging moss, about ten feet from
the ground, in a thicket; was simply hollowed out of the moss, of which
it was entirely composed, with the exception of three or four
horsehairs; entrance on side; contained three young about half fledged.
Parents very bold, but thinking they were _americana_ I did not shoot

The next year, his Mexican guide brought him a nest and a broken egg,
which Mr. Sennett (1879) describes as follows:

The nest is exceedingly interesting and beautiful. It is made in a gray
mistletoe-like orchid, an air-plant very common on the Rio Grande, which
establishes itself on the small branches of trees, and varies in size up
to eight or ten inches in diameter. This one is six inches long by four
and one-half inches wide, quite firm in texture, and was fastened some
ten feet from the ground, to the end of a drooping branch of a
brazil-tree in open woodland. The nest is constructed very simply, being
formed by parting the gray leaves of the orchid and digging into its
centre from the side, a cavity some two inches in diameter being made,
with an opening of one and one-quarter inches. The bottom and sides are
lined pretty well up with short cotton wood fibres, forming a fine
matting for the eggs to rest upon. A firmer and more secure nest is
seldom seen, although so easily made. I imagine a day would complete
one, and certainly but little time need be wasted in selecting a site,
for thousands of orchids stand out on the partially dead branches on
trees with little foliage. That they build also in the hanging trusses
of Spanish moss, so abundant everywhere, is true, the young before
referred to being found in a nest in one.

There are two nests of Sennett's warbler in the Thayer collection in
Cambridge. One of these was taken for F. B. Armstrong in Tamaulipas,
Mexico, on July 5, 1911, and held three eggs. It is described as a "nest
of hair in bunch of growing moss hanging from limb of cypress tree in
river bottom," 8 feet up; it is built right into the _Tillandsia_ and is
made almost wholly of black and white cattle hair. The other, with a set
of four eggs, was taken by James Johnson near Saltillo, Mexico, on May
27, 1906. It is described by the collector as "dug and hollowed in a
bunch of pipestem mosses." It is a compact little nest made of very fine
rootlets, very fine grasses, shreds of the brown inner bark of the
palmetto or palm, and some weed blossoms; it is lined with finer shreds,
a little plant down, and a few feathers. Externally it measures 2-1/2
inches in diameter and 2 inches in height; the inside diameter is about
1-1/2 inches; and the depth of the cup about 1-1/4 inches.

_Eggs._--Either 3 or 4 eggs seem to constitute the full set, as far as
we now know, for Sennett's warbler. The 7 eggs in the Thayer collection
vary from ovate to short ovate, and have only a slight lustre. They are
white or creamy white and are speckled and spotted with shades of "wood
brown," "cinnamon-brown," or "Brussels brown," with underlying spots of
"pale brownish drab." On some eggs the markings run to much darker
browns, such as "auburn" and "chestnut," and on these the drab spottings
are frequently lacking. Usually a loose wreath is formed where the spots
are concentrated at the large end, but occasionally they are distributed
nearly evenly over the entire surface. The measurements of 36 eggs
average 16.3 by 12.2 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =19.0= by =13.7= and =15.0= by =11.3= millimeters (Harris).

_Plumages._--Young Sennett's warblers that I have examined are uniform
grayish olive above, inclining to olive-green on the back; the black
lores and cheeks are lacking; the median wing coverts are narrowly
tipped with whitish, and the greater coverts more broadly so; the chin
is pale yellow; the chest and upper breast are shaded with pale gray and
centrally tinged yellowish; the abdomen is dull white; and the sides and
flanks are shaded with pale olive-grayish. I have not seen enough
material to trace subsequent molts and plumages, which doubtless
parallel those of the parula warbler.

_Food._--We have no definite information about the food of Sennett's
warbler, but Clarence F. Smith has sent me the following note: "The
only laboratory report available on the food of the species pertains
specifically to a South American subspecies of the _pitiayumi_ group.
The stomach contents were reported to consist of remains of
hymenopterous insects and two-winged flies (Zotta, 1932)."

* * *

Nothing further seems to have appeared in print regarding the habits of
this warbler. It is much like the well-known parula warbler in
appearance and behavior, but can be recognized in the field by the
conspicuous black lores and cheeks and by the complete absence of any
pectoral band.


_Range._--The species ranges from southern Texas to northern Argentina
and Uruguay. The race occurring in the United States is found in
southern Texas and northeastern Mexico.

_Breeding range._--Sennett's olive-backed warbler breeds =north= to
northeastern Coahuila (Sabinas); and southern Texas (Hidalgo, Harlingen,
and Point Isabel). =East= to southern Texas (Point Isabel and
Brownsville); and southeastern Tamaulipas (Altamira and Tampico).
=South= to southern Tamaulipas (Tampico); and southern San Luis Potosí
(Valles). =West= to eastern San Luis Potosí (Valles); and eastern
Coahuila (Cerro de la Silla and Sabinas).

_Winter range._--While probably not a sedentary form, its winter range
very nearly coincides with its breeding range. It has been found in
winter from Brownsville, Tex., to northern Hidalgo (Jacala).

_Egg dates._--Texas: 6 records, April 28 to May 30; 4 records, May 2 to
12, indicating the height of the season.

Mexico: 2 records, May 27 and July 5.




The Socorro warbler is closely related to Sennett's warbler and other
races of _pitiayumi_ but is accepted as a distinct species. It differs
from _nigrilora_ in having gray, instead of black, lores and cheeks, and
in having much less white on the inner webs of the outer rectrices. It
was supposed to be confined to Socorro Island, one of the Revillagigedo
group, about 250 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.
It was added to our fauna by Chester C. Lamb (1925), who states:

On November 3, 1923, I collected one of these birds at Todos Santos, on
the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula of Lower California, some forty
miles north of Cape San Lucas. * * * On February 5, 1924, I saw another
of these little warblers, within a few feet of me; but my gun was not at
hand, so I had to be content with a sight record. The locality was
inland, at El Oro, on the east side of the Victoria Mountains, about
thirty miles from Todos Santos. The next occurrence, like the first, was
at Todos Santos, where, on July 23, 1924, I secured an adult female
which is now in my collection at the Los Angeles County Museum, Los
Angeles. The taking of these two birds, in the winter and summer of two
successive years, would indicate that the species is of more or less
regular occurrence in the Cape Region of Lower California. The capture
of a specimen in July suggests the possibility of breeding at the point
of record.

Nothing more seems to have been heard of the species since. And we know
nothing of its habits.


_Range._--Socorro Island and the Cape region of Baja California.

_Breeding range._--The Socorro warbler is known to breed only on Socorro
Island, where it is resident. It has been found in the breeding season
near Todos Santos, Baja California.

This warbler has been found in winter in two localities (Todos Santos
and El Oro) in Baja California, and appears to be resident in small





The olive warbler was long classed as a species of _Dendroica_, with
_Peucedramus_ regarded as a subgenus, but it is now properly placed
in a genus by itself, for as Dr. Chapman (1907) points out it differs
from _Dendroica_ chiefly "in its slenderer, more rounded bill,
proportionately longer wings (about 1.00 inch longer than the tail) and
decidedly forked tail, the central tail feathers being more than .25
inches shorter than the other ones. In general color and pattern of
coloration _Peucedramus_ is markedly unlike _Dendroica_, from all the
species of which the male differs in requiring two years to acquire
adult plumage."

For a still longer time it was supposed to be a homogeneous species,
until Miller and Griscom (1925) made a study of it and divided the
species into five subspecies, mostly Mexican and Central American. In
giving this bird the name _P. t. arizonae_, they state that it is
entirely different in coloration from the type race; "upperparts plain
mouse-gray, in spring plumage almost never tinged with olivaceous, even
on the upper tail-coverts, appearing lighter and grayer than typical
_olivaceus_; collar on hind neck not so complete, usually invading the
occiput; primaries rarely if ever edged with olive-green in spring
plumage; head and throat plain ochraceous, duller than in typical
_olivaceus_; underparts lighter, the center of the belly purer white,
more contrasted with the flanks, which are less olivaceous, more grayish
brown; size as in typical _olivaceus_. Throat and side of neck of adult
female and immature pale lemon-yellow." They give as its range
"mountains of southern and central Arizona south at least to Chihuahua
and perhaps east to western Tamaulipas (Miquihuana)."

The species had long been known in Mexico and had been erroneously
reported in Texas, but it remained for Henry W. Henshaw (1875) to record
it definitely as a North American bird by capturing three specimens on
Mount Graham, Ariz., in September, 1874. Since then it has been noted by
numerous observers on several other mountain ranges in southern Arizona,
where it is now known to be fairly common in summer and where a few
remain in winter.

It is a bird of the open pine forests on or near the summits of the
mountains. In the Huachucas we found it breeding at about 9,000 feet
elevation in the open forests of yellow pine, sugar pine, and fir. As
Swarth (1904) says: "I found them only in the pine forests of the
highest parts of the mountains, even in cold weather none being seen
below 8,500 feet; and more were secured above 9,000 feet than below it."

In the Chiricahuas, Frank Stephens collected a fine series of these
warblers for William Brewster (1882a) in March, 1880, in the pine woods
at elevations from 10,000 to 12,000 feet. And it was here that W. W.
Price (1895) found the first nest in 1894; "the region was a dry open
park, thinly set with young pine (_Pinus jeffreyi_), at between nine and
ten thousand feet above the sea."

The olive warbler is not always confined to the pines at all seasons,
for Dr. Walter P. Taylor tells me that he obtained a single specimen
from an oak tree in the Santa Rita Mountains at 5,000 feet on February
4, 1923. It was in the same general locality with bridled titmice and
ruby-crowned kinglets, and was alone, perhaps a winter wanderer,
foraging nervously through the foliage of the oak.

_Spring._--According to Swarth (1904), migrating olive warblers reach
the Huachuca Mountains, from their winter resorts in northern Mexico,
about the first of April. "In 1903 they became fairly abundant,
particularly in April, when many small flocks of five or six birds each,
were seen. * * * They were seldom in company with other warblers, but
when not alone, associated with nuthatches and creepers." Frank C.
Willard (1910) says that "the first few days are spent, as it were, in
staking out their claims anew. The males at this time are quite
pugnacious toward one another, and, tho apparently already mated, they
promptly drive any wanderer of the same sex from their selected bit of
forest. I believe they return each year to the same locality in which
they made their home of the previous year, as I have found them in the
same patch of trees year after year while other places near by, with the
same apparent advantages, never seem to be chosen." Dr. Taylor (MS.) saw
a pair of olive warblers, 20 to 30 feet up in some yellow pines in the
Santa Catalina Mountains on May 13, 1928. They kept giving a whistled
call with descending inflection. "The two birds were courting
apparently, flying about, often facing each other at short range, 6 to
18 inches, calling at very frequent intervals."

_Nesting._--To William W. Price (1895) belongs the honor of finding the
first nest of the Arizona olive warbler. On June 15, 1894, on the
Chiricahua Mountains, he--

saw a female, closely followed by a male, fly from a bush of spirea
(_Spirea discolor_) to the top of a small pine, and busy itself on a
small horizontal limb partially concealed by pine needles. She soon
returned to the spirea, followed by the male, which did not enter the
bush but perched on a pine branch near by. The female again flew with a
dry flower-stem in her bill, from the bush directly to the pine, where a
nest was in process of construction. * * * A few days after, a forest
fire drove me from my camp, and it was not until July 1 that I was able
to visit the nest. The female was sitting, and when frightened from the
nest, kept hovering about, but made no sound. The male did not appear at
all. The nest was compactly built and placed on a small horizontal
branch, about forty feet from the ground, and about six feet from the
top of the tree. The eggs, four in number, were in an advanced state of
incubation. * * * The body and walls of the nest are composed of
rootlets and flower stalks of _Spirea discolor_, and the inner lining
consists of fine rootlets and a very small quantity of vegetable down.
It is a compactly built structure, measuring about 4 inches in outer
diameter by 1-3/4 inches in depth; the inner cup measures 2 inches in
width by 1-1/8 inches in depth.

A few years later, O. W. Howard (1899) reported finding four nests in
the Huachuca Mountains; one was about 30 feet up in the fork of a large
limb of a red fir; another was in a sugar pine near the extremity of a
limb and about 30 feet from the ground; a third was near the end of a
long slender limb of a yellow pine, about 50 feet up, and well concealed
among the long pine needles; the fourth was on a branch of a red fir,
not far from the trunk, and over 60 feet from the ground.

F. C. Willard (1910), collecting in the Huachucas, says that "short-leaf
pines, long-leaf pines and firs are chosen for the nesting sites." One
female that he watched building her nest "was gathering rootlets at the
time and seemed very particular about them, picking up and dropping
several before selecting one which she thought satisfactory. This she
carried into a dense growth at the tip of a branch of a large fir about
one hundred yards away. The male was singing and feeding in a tree
close by. After a few trips with material the female would fly into the
tree where he was and let him feed her. This is the only time I have
observed nest building going on and the male not following the female in
her flights." In his description of the nest, he says: "It is supported
by ten small live twigs from the size of a pencil down, all growing from
a branch about five eighths of an inch in diameter. It is composed
outwardly of moss and pine bud hulls with plant down scattered thruout.
The proportion of this latter increases until the the lining is reacht
where it forms a felt like a hummingbird's nest. This lining is
supplemented with a few very fine rootlets."

He gives an interesting account of his attempts to locate another nest
in "a short-leaf pine whose branches were weighted down with masses of
twigs and cones." He worked from ten in the morning until three in the
afternoon, following the birds about, climbing the suspected tree
several times and cutting off many twigs, before he finally found the
nest. "The tree was not a very large one and I had shaken every branch
and jarred them with my foot, but until I practically toucht the nest
she had stayed on."

While I was in Arizona with Willard he collected for me on May 30 a
beautiful nest of the olive warbler, with four fresh eggs. It was taken
at an altitude of 8,500 feet on the Huachuca Mountains and was built in
a clump of mistletoe near the tip of a branch of a sugar pine about 20
feet out from the trunk and 55 feet from the ground. Its construction
was similar to those described previously (pl. 23). The loftiest nest
that he ever found was 70 feet from the ground in a pine.

The nest built by the Arizona olive warbler is beautiful, and quite
different from that of any other species of its group. A typical nest
(in the Thayer collection in Cambridge) is made mainly of a brown lichen
or moss mixed with other lichens and mosses, bud scales, flower scales,
and some plant down, reinforced with fine yellowish rootlets. All these
are compactly worked into and supported by the living needles of the
yellow pine in which the nest was built. The lining consists of plant
down and finer strands of the same yellowish rootlets. It measures 3-1/2
by 3 inches in outside diameter and 2-1/2 in height; the inner cavity is
about 2 inches in diameter and 1-1/4 inches in depth.

_Eggs._--Three or four distinctive eggs seem to constitute the full set
for the northern olive warbler. These are ovate to short ovate and have
a very slight lustre. They are grayish or bluish white, or even very
pale blue, liberally speckled, spotted and blotched with "dark
olive-gray," "dark grayish olive," "drab," "olive-brown," or "dark
brownish drab." These are interspersed with undertones of "mouse gray,"
"deep mouse gray," or "Quaker drab." On some eggs the spots are sharp
and distinct, while on others the olive, brown, and drab markings are
clouded into the undertones. The spottings are usually well scattered
over the entire surface, but tend to become heavier at the large end.
The measurements of 28 eggs average 17.1 by 12.8 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =19.0= by =16.0=, =16.0= by 12.2, and
18.1 by =12.0= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--Information is lacking on incubation and care of the young.

_Plumages._--The plumages and molts of the olive warbler are as
distinctive as its nest and eggs. The sexes are not quite alike in
juvenal plumage. Ridgway (1902) describes the young male as "pileum,
hindneck, back, scapulars, rump, and upper tail-coverts plain dull olive
or brownish olive; supra-auricular region and sides of neck dull
yellowish buffy, the latter tinged with olive; chin, throat, and chest
dull yellowish buffy; otherwise like adult female." And of the young
female, "similar to the young male but paler and grayer above;
supra-auricular and post-auricular regions pale brownish buffy; chin,
throat, and chest still paler buffy, the chin and upper throat dull
buffy whitish." The white tips of the greater wing coverts are tinged
with yellowish.

I have not been able to trace the postjuvenal molt in the series I have
examined but it apparently occurs in July and produces very little
change, young birds of both sexes in their first winter plumage closely
resembling the adult female at that season, though the crown and nape
are grayer and the throat and breast are paler. I can find no evidence
of a prenuptial molt. Young males evidently breed in this plumage and do
not acquire the fully adult plumage until their second fall, or perhaps
later. In Brewster's series, collected in March, three males are in this
condition, of which he (1882) says that "two of them, although in unworn
dress, are absolutely undistinguishable from adults of the opposite sex;
the third (No. 77), however, has the throat appreciably tinged with the
brownish-saffron of the adult male." This last may be a bird that is one
year older, for Ridgway (1902) describes the "second year" male as
"identical in coloration with the adult female." Judging from the series
that I have examined, including all of Brewster's birds, I am inclined
to think that the adult winter plumage is acquired at the first
postnuptial molt, or when the bird is a little over one year old.

There can be no doubt, however, that young males breed in this immature
plumage, for Price (1895) secured a pair that were feeding a brood of
young, and the "male was not in fully adult plumage and was very similar
in coloration to the female." Swarth (1904) writes: "The male bird
breeds in the immature plumage, for on June 21, 1902, I assisted O. W.
Howard in securing a nest, containing four eggs, the parents of which
were indistinguishable in color and markings. * * * I was surprised at
the large proportion of birds in this immature plumage that were seen.
At a very liberal estimate I should say that the males in adult plumage
comprised barely a third of the birds seen in the spring."

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt, mainly in July; all June birds
that I have seen are in worn plumage, and August and September birds are
in new, fresh feathers. The fall plumage of the male is similar to that
of the spring male, but the colors of the head, neck, and chest are
duller, more clay color, the back is more olive and the sides are
browner. In the female at this season the crown is tipped with grayish
and the throat and breast with buffy, while the sides are browner than
in the spring; the white tips of the greater wing coverts are tinged
with yellowish. The nuptial plumage is acquired mainly, if not entirely,
by wear, the edgings wearing away and the colors becoming brighter.

_Food._--Nothing definite seems to have been recorded on the food of the
olive warbler, but its habit of creeping over the branches and twigs of
the pines, much after the manner of the pine warbler, would seem to
indicate that it was foraging for the many small insects that infest
these trees. It is evidently one of the protectors of the pine forests.
Brewster (1882b) says: "In their actions these Warblers reminded Mr.
Stephens of _Dendroeca occidentalis_. They spent much of their time at
the extremities of the pine branches where they searched among the
bunches of needles for insects, with which their stomachs were usually
well filled. Occasionally one was seen to pursue a falling insect to the
ground, where it would alight for a moment before returning to the tree

_Behavior._--One of the members of Henshaw's (1875) party brought in a
specimen of this warbler, on September 20, "which he stated he had shot
from among a flock of Audubon's Warblers and Snowbirds, which he had
started from the ground while walking the pine woods. With the rest, it
had apparently been feeding upon the ground, and had flown up to a low
branch of a pine, where it sat and began to give forth a very beautiful
song, which he described as consisting of detached, melodious, whistling

W. E. D. Scott (1885), writing of his field work in the Santa Catalina
Mountains in late November, says:

Associated with flocks of the Mexican Bluebird (_Sialia, mexicana_),
which was, by the way, the only kind of Bluebird observed, was always to
be found one and sometimes two representatives of the Olive Warbler
(_Peucedramus olivaceus_). The Bluebirds were generally feeding on some
insects in the tall pines, in flocks of from six to ten individuals. The
Olive Warblers were on the best of terms with their blue friends, and as
the Bluebirds were shy and restless they made it difficult to obtain or
observe very closely their smaller allies. I did not in these pine woods
see the two species apart, and became at length so well aware of the
intimacy that existed between them, that I would fire at any small bird
passing high overhead in company with Bluebirds. They were chance shots,
certainly, but the only two small birds obtained flying in this way with
the Bluebirds were Olive Warblers. * * * Generally they preferred the
largest branches of the pines when they alighted, though I took one not
more than three feet from the ground in a small bush. Their movements
while feeding or searching for food are very deliberate, though I
noticed now and again certain motions when at the extremity of a bough
that reminded me of a Kinglet or a Titmouse.

Swarth (1940) says: "Though frequenting the tree tops to a great extent,
they seem singularly tame and unsuspicious, and several times I have had
one feeding in some of the lower branches, within arm's reach of me,
without its showing the least sign of fear."

_Voice._--The olive warbler has a rather loud, attractive, and
distinctive note, but few observers have referred to it as a song. The
"beautiful song" mentioned above consisted of "detached, melodious,
whistling notes."

One of its whistling notes sounds very much like the _peto_ note of the
tufted titmouse and might easily deceive the listener. Scott (1885)
observed that these warblers "had a call-note so like that of their
associates [the bluebirds] as to be almost identical. It seemed to me
only a clearer whistle of more silvery tone." Price (1895) saw a male
alight on a twig near his mate, during nest-building, uttering "a liquid
_quirt, quirt, quirt_, in a descending scale." Mr. Henshaw (1875) heard
"a few strange Vireo-like notes coming" from an olive warbler. A bird
that Dr. W. P. Taylor (MS.) watched in apparent courtship gave "a
whistled call with descending inflection."

_Field marks._--In general appearance and behavior the olive warbler
suggests the pine warbler, especially as it creeps over the pines. The
orange-brown head, neck, and breast of the adult male, with the
conspicuous black band through the eye, is distinctive; these colors are
much paler and more yellowish in the female, and the band through the
eye is grayish. Both adults have two white wing bars, a white area at
the base of the primaries and much white in the tail, the white areas
being more restricted in the female. Young birds are much like the
female (see descriptions of plumages).

_Winter._--The olive warbler, as a species, is probably permanently
resident throughout most of its Mexican and Central American range. But
the northern olive warbler is evidently partially migratory, though some
individuals, perhaps many, remain in Arizona during part, or all, of the
winter. All of the 15 specimens taken by Stephens for William Brewster
(1882b) were collected in March, probably too early to be migrants, and
he says that Stephens had previously taken one in February 1880,
evidently a wintering bird. Mr. Swarth (1904) writes: "I have not found
this species very abundant in the Huachucas at any time, but it is
probably resident to some extent, for I secured an adult male on
February 21 when the snow was deep on the ground. During March I saw
several more, all adult males and single birds, usually with a troop of
Pygmy Nuthatches; but it was not until the first of April, when the
other warblers were arriving, that they became at all abundant." Scott
(1885) found them on the Catalinas under winter conditions, with snow on
the ground, and says: "I think there can be little if any doubt that
they are residents all the year." And Dr. W. P. Taylor (MS.) took one in
the Santa Ritas on February 4, 1923. Just how far south go the birds
that migrate away from Arizona does not seem to be known, but apparently
they have not been detected beyond Chihuahua and Tamaulipas. Perhaps
they do not migrate at all.


_Range._--Southwestern United States to northern Nicaragua.

_Breeding range._--The northern olive warbler breeds =north= to central
Arizona (Baker's Butte and White Mountains) and central western New
Mexico (Reserve). =East= to western New Mexico (Reserve and McKnight's
Canyon); Chihuahua (Colonia García); southeastern Coahuila (Diamante
Pass); and southwestern Tamaulipas (Miquihuana). =South= to southwestern
Tamaulipas (Miquihuana) and southern Durango (Durango). =West= to
Durango (Durango); Sonora (Sierra Saguaribo); and southeastern and
central Arizona (Huachuca Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains, and
Baker's Butte).

Other races occur in southern Mexico and Central America.

_Winter range._--The northern olive warbler is probably migratory to
some extent, individuals withdrawing to the southern part of the range,
but it is found in winter occasionally or in small numbers as far north
as southern Arizona.

_Egg dates._--Arizona: 14 records, May 23 to July 1; 7 records, June 2
to 18, indicating the height of the season.



PLATES 24, 25


The familiar yellow warbler, also commonly called the summer yellow bird
or wild canary, is the best known and the most widely known of all of
our wood warblers. It is one of the few birds that almost everybody
knows by one of the above names. It is universally beloved as it comes
to us in the flush of budding spring, gleaming in the shrubbery, like a
rich yellow flame among the freshly opening leaves, or bringing to the
apple orchards a flash of brilliant sunshine to mingle with the
fragrant blossoms. As Dr. Chapman (1907) says: "In his plumes dwells the
gold of the sun, in his voice its brightness and good cheer. We have not
to seek him in the depths of the forest, the haunt of nearly all his
congeners, he comes to us and makes his home near ours."

The yellow warbler, as a species, is also the most widely distributed
member of its family. Its breeding range extends from the Atlantic to
the Pacific in both Canada and the United States (110 degrees of
longitude), and from the Barren Grounds in northern Canada to Mexico and
the Gulf States (40 degrees of latitude). Its winter range covers 54
degrees of longitude and 31 degrees of latitude in Central and South
America. Professor Cooke (1904) says: "The extreme points of the yellow
warbler's range--northern Alaska and western Perú--are farther separated
than the extremes of the range of the black-polled warbler, which is
considered the greatest migrant of the family." But it must be
remembered that the yellow warbler breeds much farther south than the

_Spring._--The spring migration of the yellow warbler is long and
partially circuitous; eastern yellow warblers that winter as far east as
British Guiana probably make a roundabout flight to Central America, as
there seem to be no springtime records for this bird in the West Indies
and few for it in Florida. These birds may fly across the Gulf from
Yucatán to Cuba and Florida, but the main flight is probably directly
north from Yucatán to Louisiana and other points on the Gulf coast; they
have been repeatedly seen flying northward in the middle of the Gulf.
There is also a considerable migration along the coast of Texas, which I
have personally observed.

The migration is also prolonged or very irregular, for according to the
dates of departure given to me by Alexander F. Skutch (see under
_Winter_), the last of these warblers do not leave Central America until
the very last of April, or the first of May, after the first arrivals
have reached New England; some of these records, however, may apply to
one of the western races. After the birds reach the United States, the
migration fans out northward and northeastward and seems to be more
rapid. Of this Frederick C. Lincoln (1939) says: "Coming north from the
Tropics these birds reach New Orleans about April 5, when the average
temperature is 65° F. Travelling on northward much faster than does the
season, they reach their breeding grounds in Manitoba the latter part
of May, when the average temperature is only 47°. Encountering
progressively colder weather over their entire route, they cross a strip
of country in the 15 days from May 11 to 25 that spring takes 35 days to
cross. This 'catching up' with spring is characteristic of species that
winter south of the United States and of most of the northern species
that winter in the Gulf States."

_Territory._--Soon after their arrival on their breeding grounds the
males begin to select their territories and then to defend them. Dr. S.
Charles Kendeigh (1941) made a study of the territories of birds in a
prairie community in northwestern Iowa, and writes:

A special study of the Yellow Warbler indicated that territorial
requirements included suitable nest-sites, concealing cover, tall
singing posts, feeding areas in trees, and space, and that when certain
of these factors were lacking, territorial relations became confused and
the behavior of the birds was modified. * * * These warblers possessed
territories that averaged about 150 feet in diameter, or approximately
two-fifths of an acre. Even in locations where trees were included, the
territories appeared to be of about the same size. The limits of the
territory often did not coincide with the boundaries of the thicket in
which the nest was located but extended over the neighboring grassland
and often included parts of neighboring thickets. These territories were
defended by the males partly by singing, although in shrubby areas
lacking trees they were handicapped by lack of singing posts from which
to proclaim their ownership and to advertise themselves. A few made use
of fences from which to sing and also of tall posts and wire from an
abandoned electric line that extended through the area. The rôle of the
female in defense of territory was not determined.

Probably due to this lack of singing posts and to the unusual abundance
of birds, chasing was also extensively used as a defense measure, and
during the height of the nesting season squabbling birds were a common
sight all over the area. * * * Neighboring males seemed to lack any
conception of the limits of each other's territories and moved about
indiscriminately until chased out. No actual fighting was observed.
* * * In other parts of the area where trees were available, the males
commonly sang at a height of 18 feet, often up to a height of 45 feet,
and chasing was not often observed.

For yellow warblers observed by Wendell P. Smith (1943) at Wells River,
Vt., "territorial exclusiveness scarcely existed. In one season a
Chestnut-sided Warbler's nest was located within five feet of that of
the Yellow Warbler. The following species were represented by one
nesting pair within a radius of thirty feet: House Wren, Catbird, Black
and White Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Yellow-throat and
Indigo Bunting. Unless another individual came very close to the nest,
no hostility was shown by either male or female. Too close an approach
would bring a swift attack by one or the other, however, but for only a
short distance when the pursuer would give up the chase."

A. D. Du Bois mentions in his notes a nest that was about 6 feet from
the door of a screened porch in daily use and tells the following story
about the territory involved: "Twelve yards south of this nest was a
spruce tree. On several occasions the male met another male at this tree
or beyond it. Both alighted at times in the treetop. Their boundary
arguments had the appearance of pushing-contests in the air; and
sometimes the contestants revolved in the air, about an imaginary axis
between them. Once, while one of the warblers was in the tree, the other
was seen to poise near the tree on fluttering wings, remaining for two
or three seconds as nearly stationary in the air as a hummingbird.
Twelve yards beyond the spruce I found a nearly completed nest in tall
lilacs; but this nest was not finally occupied." Apparently, a second
pair of warblers had tried to build a nest too near the territory of the
first pair and had been driven out of the territory.

_Courtship._--Mr. Smith (1943) says on this subject:

Courtship begins soon after arrival of the species. Within a period of
from four to six days greatly increased singing is noted which marks its
inception. Persistent and lively pursuit of the female by the male was
observed, taking place within a restricted area (once within a radius of
thirty feet). From one to four days elapsed before courtship was
completed. Sexual union may not take place until nest building begins as
the following observations in 1938 tend to show. Pursuit of the female
began on May 23, continued on the 24th but frequent attempts at
intercourse on the part of the male were unsuccessful. On the 26th
copulation was seen to take place and on that date the nest was
completed. * * * A period of several days intervened between nest
completion and egg laying. During two seasons of rather intensive
observation, this was two days.

_Nesting._--Although we have come to regard the yellow warbler as a
sociable and friendly little bird that seeks our company and builds its
nest in the shrubbery about our homes, often close to our houses or in
the bushes under our windows, such were not the original nesting sites
and even now are far from being the commonest situations chosen,
although they may seem the most evident.

The favorite nesting sites in southern New England are along small
streams and brooks, around the borders of swamps and ponds and lakes, or
in the more open brushy swamps (where the land is moist but not too wet)
among willows, alders, elderberry and blueberry bushes, and other
moisture-loving shrubs and small trees. They also nest in drier
situations, in shrubbery about open spaces, along brush-grown fences and
hedgerows and roadside thickets, or in cut-over lands grown up to
sprouts and to thickets of wild raspberry, blueberry, and other bushes.

In such situations the nest is built in an upright fork or crotch of a
bush or sapling, seldom over 6 or 8 feet from the ground or less than 3.
Nests are sometimes built at higher levels in apple trees in orchards or
in small trees about houses but rarely as high as 30 or 40 feet. Near
human habitations, clumps of lilac bushes, often close to windows or
doors, are decided favorites, while various kinds of ornamental shrubs
about our gardens or grounds also provide suitable nesting sites.

Mr. Du Bois has sent me the data for 30 nests of the eastern yellow
warbler found in Minnesota, Illinois, and New York. Among these, 4 were
in willows, 3 each in lilacs and alders, 2 each in elms and boxelder
saplings, and 1 each in a grapevine, an ash sapling, a spirea bush, and
a currant bush. One of these latter, in an unspecified bush, was 14 feet
from the ground, and another, in a wild grapevine climbing on a tree
beside a coalbin, was 8 feet from the ground; those in the elms were 12
and 14 feet, respectively, from the ground. The remainder were mostly 5
feet or less above ground, the lowest being at a height of 2 feet, in a
currant bush near a vegetable garden. He tells of a nest that was built
in a wild rose bush at the edge of a small run near his vegetable
garden; "this nest was so compactly fabricated as to hold water for some
time; I saw about one-fourth inch of water standing in the bottom of it
after a heavy rain."

On two occasions, he has found the new nest to have been built on top of
the old nest of the previous year.

F. G. Schrantz (1943) has published the results of a careful study of 41
nests of the eastern yellow warbler in Iowa, during 1938 and 1939, on
the restricted grounds of the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. Among those at
heights from 1-1/2 to 5 feet from the ground were 27 in wolfberry bushes
(_Symphoricarpos occidentalis_), 8 in young saplings of boxelder (_Acer
negundo_), 2 in wild gooseberry (_Ribes gracile_), 1 in wild currant
(_Ribes floridum_), and 1 in an introduced species of honeysuckle. One
nest was in a cottonwood at a height of about 10 feet, and another in a
boxelder about 15 feet above ground.

Dr. Roberts (1936) says that in the prairie regions of Minnesota, where
underbrush is scarce, the yellow warblers build their nests in the
cottonwoods in the tree-claims, "against the trunks of the large trees,
supporting them on small lateral branches and twigs. * * * These
arboreal nests are often fifteen to twenty-five feet from the ground and
occasionally still higher." And in the huge cottonwood trees along the
river, he has seen nests placed at elevations of 40 to 60 feet. Others
have also recorded nests at heights of 40 and 60 feet.

In Dr. Kendeigh's (1941) prairie community, "twenty out of twenty-nine
nests were placed in buckbrush, with the rest in boxelder, lilac,
willow, or currant. The buckbrush is a low bush usually three or four
feet high, growing in rather dense thickets in the open, especially in
grassy areas of _Poa_ and _Agropyron_. Nests placed here varied between
two and three feet above the ground. The nest found closest to the
ground (18 inches) was, however, in a small boxelder. In taller shrubs
and trees, the nests were found up to about seven feet above the

Mr. Schrantz (1943) watched the building of a nest from the first stages
of construction to its completion and the laying of the first egg,
covering a period of 4 days.

Construction was first observed at 7:45 a. m., on June 12, 1939, when a
female Yellow Warbler was seen carrying a tuft of plant-down into a
small boxelder sapling. Upon examination, a mass of plant-down about one
and one-half inches in diameter was found at a measured height of two
feet three inches from the ground in the fork of the sapling. During an
hour of observation the female continued to carry plant-down at
intervals of about four minutes although once it did not bring any
material for twenty minutes. At noon the plant-down mass had increased
to about three inches in diameter and was more compactly pushed into the
fork. By 6:45 p.m., there were many strands of plant fibers and grasses
woven around and through the plant-down in such a way as to wrap and
bind the plant-down around the small twigs of the fork. The nest was
just assuming a cup-shaped structure. The female was now bringing large
loads of a mixture of grasses and plant fibers and working at a rate of
about one trip every four minutes. The first day's building was
completed at 7:55 p.m. The nest was now partially surrounded with woven
plant fibers and grasses with a slight formation of a rim.

On the second day the work continued and the "rim consisted of plant
fibers and grasses woven partly into the original down but mostly into
the sides and around the top. At 6:45 p.m., the nest appeared completed
with a well-formed cup, plant-fiber and grass rim, and a plant-down
floor." The third day was partly rainy and little was accomplished but
"by 8:00 on the fourth morning, the plant-down inside the nest was
smoothed out and contained a few strands of fine grasses. * * * During
all the observations on the building of this nest the male at no time
was seen to bring any nest material. However, since there were many
hours during the day when no observations were made, it is possible that
he might have helped at some time. * * * At 6:30 a.m., the following
day, one egg was found in the nest. * * * The dates of the beginning of
construction and the dates the first eggs were laid were obtained for
two other nests, and the time which elapsed in both cases was four

Only the female was seen to take part in the building of the nest that
Mr. Smith (1943) watched, but my experience was somewhat different. On
May 10, 1942, I found a pair of yellow warblers building a nest in the
top crotch of a blueberry bush, close to the side of a country road.
They were very tame and gave me an unusual opportunity to watch them for
over an hour at short range. I parked my car within 5 feet of the nest
and took motion and still pictures, with cameras even nearer. The nest
was nearly done and they were putting in the lining. Both birds helped
in the work, but the female did nine-tenths of it. She came at frequent
but rather irregular intervals, bringing a billful of soft plant down
that looked like the down from ferns, some of which I found growing
nearby, and to which I saw her making frequent trips; the fronds of the
cinnamon ferns were just unfolding. This material she deposited in the
cup of the nest and settled her body down into it, smoothing the lining
into place by turning her body around in different directions, pressing
it down with her body and up against the sides of the cup with a
sidewise motion of the wings. Occasionally she reached over the rim of
the nest, smoothing it with her neck and tucking in the loose ends with
her bill. The bottom and outside of the nest seemed to be about
finished; one side of it, opposite the most exposed side, was anchored
to a nearby twig with strands of plant fiber. The female seemed utterly
fearless; the male was more shy, but his streaked breast was
occasionally seen at the nest.

Robie W. Tufts tells me that he has seen the male at the nest; he saw a
male come to a partly finished nest sit in it for over a minute as
though testing the workmanship and sing twice while sitting there. The
male is always very attentive during nest-building, following his mate
back and forth on her trips for material and keeping close to her most
of the time. His interest in the nest is so keen that it would be
strange if he did not sometimes help.

The eastern yellow warbler builds a neat, strong nest, the materials
being firmly and smoothly interwoven and the lining compactly felted.
Five local nests before me show quite a variation in the materials used
and in their arrangement. The most obvious material, occurring more or
less in all of the nests, consists of the silvery-gray strands from the
last-year's stalks of milkweed, Indian hemp, or other similar dead
weeds. One nest has a great mass of such material below it on one side,
evidently to fill in space in the fork that supported it; mixed with
this material are a few strands of grasses, other shredded weed stems,
bits of wool, and gray fur. Although this nest is far from neat
externally, the cup of the nest is well and firmly made of finer silvery
fibers and fine grasses, cinnamon-fern down, with which it is profusely
lined, and a few fine white hairs. The rim is strongly reinforced with
horsehair and decorated with the cinnamon down. This nest, the largest
of the lot, measures nearly 5 inches in height and 3 inches in diameter,
externally. The smallest and the neatest of the five is made of finer
strands of similar materials, without a trace of cinnamon-fern down, the
whole being very firmly and smoothly woven into a compact little nest;
the rim is neatly made of very fine grasses, and it is smoothly lined
with white plant-down; it measures only 2 inches in height and 2-1/4
inches in diameter, externally. Grasses enter largely into the
construction of all the nests. One in particular is lined with both
white and buff plant-down and a little very fine grass, and has a
solidly built rim of strong grasses very firmly interwoven; the
foundation consists of dry brown and gray lichens, or mosses, and a lot
of cotton waste, such as is used to clean machinery. A two-story nest,
which measures 4 inches in total height, is profusely lined with white
cotton in both stories. There is little difference in the internal
measurements, which vary from 1-3/4 to 2 inches in diameter, and from
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in depth.

None of my nests contain any feathers, but Dr. Roberts (1936) tells of a
nest that was made entirely of chicken feathers, with "not a bit of
material of any other kind." It was built in a jewelweed (_Impatiens
capensis_), but after a brisk wind and a sharp shower both nest and weed
were completely wrecked. He shows a photograph of a nest built almost
entirely of sheep wool, and speaks also of the use of fine strips of
inner tree bark, which probably occur in many nests, of quantities of
fine, white, silky pappus from various plants, and of a few feathers. Du
Bois mentions in his notes a nest in which five soft, white chicken
feathers were woven into the lining, the largest one when stretched out
measuring 3-3/4 inches; there were also two or three feathers in the
body of the nest. In my collection is a beautifully camouflaged nest
that was built in the upright crotch of a small poplar and seems to be
made very largely of white cotton mixed with fine, light-colored fibers.
It is lined with cotton, and with a few green poplar leaves fastened to
the exterior, the whole being firmly bound with some of the finest
fibers and with spider silk, the light-colored material matches the bark
of the tree so closely that it might easily be overlooked.

T. E. McMullen has sent me his data for over 40 nests of the eastern
yellow warbler found in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The lowest nest was
only 1 foot from the ground in a small bush, and the highest was 30 feet
up in an elm. In addition to the shrubs and trees mentioned above he
lists arrowroot, blackberry briers, elder, holly, Osage-orange and
button-bushes, birch, wild cherry and oak saplings, and a pear tree.

The well-known habit of building nests one or more stories over
cowbirds' eggs will be discussed under the enemies of the yellow

_Eggs._--Four or five eggs made up the usual set for the eastern yellow
warbler; sometimes as many as six are found, or as few as three. In
shape, they vary from ovate to short ovate, or rarely show a tendency to
elongate ovate. They are only slightly glossy. These handsome eggs show
a great variation, both in ground color and in markings. The most common
ground colors are grayish white or greenish white but some eggs have a
bluish white or even a soft, pale green ground color. The spots and
blotches show an even greater variety of colors. Shades of "fuscous,"
"olive-brown," "citrine drab," "buffy brown," "buffy olive," "light
brownish olive," "raw umber," "metal bronze," or "tawny olive" are
intermingled with undertones of "deep gull gray," "neutral gray,"
"purplish gray," "pale purplish gray," "mouse gray," or "buffy brown."
The markings tend to form a wreath around the large end where, on the
heavily-marked types, the blotches overlap the undertones and an almost
endless number of shades are formed. Sometimes a few spots or scrawls of
dark "mummy brown" or "olivaceous black" stand out in sharp contrast to
the other markings. Although the eggs are usually well marked,
sometimes with blotches a quarter of an inch in diameter, often they
are only finely speckled with the gray undertones. The measurements of
50 eggs average 16.6 by 12.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =17.8= by 13.2, 17.8 by =13.7=, =15.2= by 12.7, and
15.8 by =11.7= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The incubation period for the eastern yellow warbler has been
recorded as from 8 to 11 days (most observers place it as about 11 days
for each individual egg); often, but not always, it begins before the
set is complete, making the period appear shorter for the first egg
laid. Eggs are generally, though not always, laid on successive days,
but at times 1 or 2 days intervene between layings. Incubation is
performed wholly by the female. The male stands guard near the nest and
feeds the female while she is sitting, but she also leaves occasionally
to feed herself. The young remain in the nest from 8 to 15 days,
according to several observers, but here again the normal time is
probably between 9 and 12 days, if they are undisturbed.

Harry C. Bigglestone (1913) describes the hatching process as follows:

At about 5:30 a.m. on July 3 the writer was attracted by a peculiar
rolling motion of the egg in the nest, and noticed upon closer
observation, that the shell bulged out in a ring around the middle or a
little nearer the smaller end; and soon it began to crack at this place.
The egg raised on the small end, leaning against the side of the nest,
and the young bird freed himself from the shell by a series of pushes
and kicks by the head and feet, respectively. The head escaped from the
larger part of the shell and the lower part of the body from the smaller
end. The crown of the head and the median line of the back of the
nestling were downy. This entire process covered a period of less than
four minutes.

The empty shells were broken up and eaten by the parents. He says that
brooding was carried on entirely by the female, except that he once saw
the male brooding for 7 minutes, and adds:

The female was more careful in brooding the young during the first few
days. She would stop for intervals throughout the day, while feeding,
and brood the young. Her way of completely covering the brood was to
fluff out the under coverts against the rim of the nest and bring the
wings down, just inside, so as to effectually close the nest.

* * * The female had different brooding attitudes for the varying
circumstances. For protection against the cold of early morning she
brooded in the manner described above, completely covering the young.
Through the rains she brooded in much the same way as for cold,
sheltering the young, so that after an unusually heavy downpour, the
nest remained perfectly dry inside. During the heat of midday she
usually stood in the nest with wings spread, shielding the young, but
without shutting off the circulation of the air. On the contrary, at
times she gently flapped her wings, as if fanning the young. During the
strong winds she stood in the nest with wings outstretched, and leaned
in the direction of the wind, so as to secure a delicate balance and at
the same time keep the young in the nest.

Feeding of the nestlings was carried on about equally by both male and
female parents for the first 7 days, after which the male was frightened
away by a snake and did no more feeding, the female carrying on for the
next 4 days. During observations covering nearly all of 10 full days and
part of another there were 2373 feedings, 813 by the male and 1560 by
the female, there being only 33 feedings during the whole of the last
day. "During the first three or four days when the female was brooding,
usually the male gave her the food, which she distributed to the
nestlings." Some of the food had to be broken up before it was given to
the young; and sometimes it had to be thrust down their throats. There
were 331 feedings of unrecognized food, and 553 of unidentified insects.
The identified food consisted of 659 green worms, 326 fly worms, 162
other worms, 147 May flies, 103 moths, 75 millers, 65 mosquitoes, 26
larvae, 25 grasshoppers, 23 spiders, 18 ants, 14 grubs, 8 beetles, 4
damsel flies, 2 tree hoppers, and 1 bee. Feeding began at from 4:29 to
4:50 a. m., and ended at from 7:36 to 8:04 p. m., the average feeding
period being 15 hours and 30 minutes per day. The parents were not seen
to follow any system of rotation in feeding the young. "At no time while
the nest was under observation did the parents feed by regurgitation,"
though the parents on several irregularly occurring occasions were seen
to insert an apparently empty bill into the mouth of a nestling, but it
was long after hatching. The excreta were removed by both parents; they
were eaten during about the first half of the nest life and carried away
after that; the female did most of this. The parents were very watchful
of the young, and were seen to drive away such birds as the cowbird,
blue jay, wren, chickadee, brown thrasher, kingbird and blackbird, if
they came too near the nest; the only bird that was not driven away was
a catbird. The presence of a garter snake at the base of the bush caused
great excitement; the snake was seen to climb up into the bush and carry
off one of the young when it was about six days old; the young bird was
dead before it could be rescued.

Schrantz (1943) writes: "The Yellow Warblers are hatched naked except
for a scanty amount of down and are an interesting sight with their
large bulging eyes and abdomen. It was observed that the eyes were
commencing to open on the third day after hatching. By the fifth day the
young can completely open their eyes, but in many cases would
immediately close them when the nest was approached. At this age they
would also duck down in the nest as if trying to hide. A slight tapping
on the nests would cause a rapid outstretching of necks with open
mouths." Bigglestone (1913) found that almost any slight noise near the
nest would produce the same results. Studies of weights by Schrantz
showed that--

the young averaged, when hatched, 1.27 gms.; at one day old, 1.87 gms.;
at two days old, 2.95 gms.; at three days old, 4.36 gms.; at four days
old, 5.57 gms.; at five days old, 7.26 gms.; at six days old, 8.20
gms.; and at seven days old, 8.78 gms. * * *

Of the 168 eggs in forty-one nests, 119 eggs, representing 70.83%,
hatched. Thirty-four eggs, representing 20.24%, disappeared due to wind,
abandonment of nest, and unknown causes. Fifteen eggs, representing
8.93% were addled, two of which were buried with a Cowbird's egg. Of the
119 nestlings, twenty-eight disappeared. This represents 16.66% of all
eggs laid. Four of them were seen dead in the nests. The others
disappeared from unknown causes. Therefore a total of 91 fledglings,
representing 54.17% of the original 168 eggs, left the nest. * * *

After all the young left a nest, the parent birds could be found feeding
them in the immediate vicinity of the nest for a period of about three
days. After this time the birds became more dispersed from the nesting
site, but could still be found in the vicinity for a week or ten days.

An unusual casualty is recorded in the following note sent to me by Dr.
Harrison F. Lewis: "A nest of this species which I found in a
sheep-pasture, was largely built of wool, presumably gathered from the
neighboring bushes, where it had been left by the sheep. One of the
young birds in this nest died as a result of having threads of the wool
in the nest become entangled about its tongue and bill. Another member
of this brood became entangled in a similar fashion, but I released it."

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down "mouse-gray," and
describes the juvenal plumage, in which the sexes are alike, as "above,
pale olive-brown. Wings clove-brown broadly edged with bright
olive-yellow paling at tips of the quills, the edge of the outer primary
bright lemon-yellow. Tail pale clove-brown, the inner webs of the
rectrices lemon-yellow, the outer edged with olive-yellow. Below, pale
sulphur-yellow, unstreaked."

The first winter plumage is acquired by a partial postjuvenal molt early
in July that involves the contour plumage and the wing coverts but not
the rest of the wings or the tail. He describes the young male as
"above, pale yellowish olive-green, the edgings of the wing coverts
paler. Below, dull lemon-yellow obscurely, narrowly and sparingly
streaked on the throat and sides with pale chestnut." The female is
paler throughout and has no streaking.

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt in
early spring, "which involves most of the body plumage, the wing
coverts and the tertiaries, but not the primaries, their coverts,
the secondaries, nor the tail. The whole plumage becomes golden
lemon-yellow, greener above and [in the male] brightly streaked on the
throat, breast and sides with pale chestnut, somewhat veiled by the
feather edgings. The forehead and crown are yellower than the back and
usually chestnut tinged. The tertiaries and wing coverts are broadly
edged with bright lemon yellow." The female in this plumage is
yellower than in the fall and has a few obscure chestnut streaks below.
Old and young birds are now very much alike, often practically
indistinguishable, except for the worn juvenal wings and tail.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in July before or while they
migrate and a partial prenuptial molt, as in the young bird, before they
arrive in the spring. In El Salvador, according to Dickey and van Rossem
(1938), "both adults and young of the year were in complete fall
(postnuptial) plumage by the time they arrived. * * * An adult male
taken April 10 is in the midst of the spring (prenuptial) molt and
presents an extremely ragged appearance. Another, collected on April 24,
has entirely finished this molt."

In both adult male and female plumages the colors are richer and the
streakings below heavier than in the young bird, but the female is
always duller in color and the streaking is less prominent or entirely

_Food._--Edward H. Forbush (1907) writes of the food of the eastern
yellow warbler in Massachusetts:

It would be hard to find a summer bird more useful among the shade trees
or in the orchard and small-fruit garden than this species. Almost
entirely insectivorous, it feeds on many of the greatest pests that
attack our fruit trees, vines and berry bushes. Whenever the
caterpillars of which it is fond are plentiful, they form about
two-thirds of its food. It is destructive to the small caterpillars of
the gipsy moth and the brown-tail moth, and is ordinately fond of
canker-worms and other measuring worms. Tent caterpillars are commonly
eaten. Small bark beetles and boring beetle are eaten, among them the
imago of the currant borer. Weevils are greedily taken. A few useful
beetles are sacrificed; among them ground beetles, soldier beetles, and
small scavenger beetles. The Yellow Warbler has some expertness as a
flycatcher among the branches, and seizes small moths, like the coddling
moth, with ease, but apparently does not take many parasitic
hymenoptera, although some flies are taken. Plant lice sometimes form a
considerable portion of its food. No part of the tree where it can find
insect food is exempt from its visits, and it even takes grasshoppers,
spiders, and myriapods from the ground, grass, or low-growing herbage.

He (1929) says elsewhere: "It attacks none of the products of man's
industry, so far as our records go, except the raspberry, of which it
has been known to eat a few occasionally."

S. A. Forbes (1883) reports that 5 stomachs from a canker-infested
orchard contained 94 percent insects; of which 66 percent were
canker-worms, Coleoptera 23 percent, spiders 6 percent, Hymenoptera 2
percent, and Hemiptera 1 percent. A. H. Howell (1907) found a
cotton-boll weevil in one stomach from Texas; E. R. Kalmbach (1914)
reports that of seven Utah stomachs, two contained alfalfa weevils,
forming 25 percent of the food in one; and Prof. Aughey (1878) found an
average of 11 locusts in 7 Nebraska birds.

_Behavior._--The gentle little yellow warbler is not only one of the
prettiest but one of the tamest and calmest of our bird neighbors. It
comes to us in the most friendly and confiding manner to build its cozy
nest and rear its little golden family in the lilac bush under our
window or in the climbing rambler over our porch. Nor does it mind our
company in the least as we watch its home life almost within arm's
reach. I have sat for an hour within a few feet of a pair of these
lovely birds and watched them building their nest. The many fine
photographs that I have received show that it is an easy subject for
close-up pictures; the near presence of the camera does not seem to
disturb them in their feeding routine. Many intimate home-life studies
have been very successful, for they are brave and devoted parents. Robie
W. Tufts (1927) has had a male yellow warbler come at least twice to
feed a brood of young that he was holding in his hand, and once he even
wiped his bill on his thumb. It is such displays of confidence that
endear us to the little golden gem.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following study of the song
of this warbler: "The song of the yellow warbler is a bright, sweet and
musical refrain of about 8 notes. My records show that the number varies
from 5 to 15 and averages 8-1/2. The songs are quite variable in form,
so much so that it is the quality, rather than the form, that makes the
song recognizable. This quality is difficult to describe, yet that
quality, after a little familiarity, is easily recognized; the tones,
though musical and pleasing, are not quite clear, but slightly sibilant.

"Two forms of the song are fairly typical, but there are a number of
others that vary so much that they are quite unlike either of these. The
most common form begins with four or five notes of even time, and all on
the same pitch. These are followed by two or three more rapid notes on a
different pitch, usually lower; and the song is ended by one or two
notes back on the original pitch and time. Such a song, in its simplest
form, might be written _see see see see tititi see_. Of my 87 records,
45 may be classed as this form.

"The second form begins in the same manner, but has all the notes of
equal time, and the last three or four successively lower in pitch. I
have records of 24 such songs. There remain in my records 18 songs so
variable that they belong to neither of these forms, and yet no two of
them are similar in form. A number of songs of the different forms begin
with slurred notes, the slurs being about equally up or down in pitch.

"Songs vary from 1-1/5 to 2 seconds in length, averaging about 1-2/5
seconds. The pitch varies from A´´´´ to D´´´´´, only three and a half
tones altogether. Single songs vary from one to two and a half tones in
range of pitch, averaging about one and a half tones. Individual birds
may sing as many as three different songs, and sometimes sing two
different songs in regular alternation.

"Singing continues from the first arrival in migration until the third
week of July, ceases for a short time, but is usually revived in August,
and is to be heard irregularly until the birds depart for the south."

Francis H. Allen gives me his impressions of the two common songs as
follows: "One of these I have been accustomed to render as _wee see wee
see wiss wiss´-u_. Occasionally the final _wiss´-u_ is doubled. The
other of these two songs goes something like _wee wee wee witita weet_,
without the drop in the pitch that the first song has at the final note.
I have also heard a song of five single notes with no variation in pitch
or tempo--_weet weet weet weet weet_. Besides a rather sharp _chip_,
which is the ordinary call-note, I have heard a _dzee_ from a yellow

The yellow warbler is an early riser. Mr. Smith (1943) heard one begin
singing at 4:56 a.m., "daylight time," and another at 4:05, "but with
only one song until 4:08 when seven were given during the space of one
minute. During the song period of fifty minutes, 197 songs were given."
Dr. Charles W. Townsend told Mr. Allen that he heard one at Ipswich,
Mass., on June 13, 1908, that began singing at 3:10 a.m., but this was
standard time.

Dr. Winsor M. Tyler (1937) mentions a peculiar note, heard during the
migration in August, which had puzzled him for nearly 30 years until he
finally traced it to an eastern yellow warbler. "As we walk under the
trees, listening, we hear a long, wild, high, sharp bird-note, abrupt,
and very slightly vibratory, lasting perhaps half a second. It is a
characteristic sound of this time of year, and we hear it best on these
quiet, silent days. It comes from a bird moving restlessly up in the
trees, and before we can see the bird, it is gone. * * * In pitch, it
suggests the call of a migrating Ovenbird, but it is too long-drawn-out;
it suggests the _chip_ of a Northern Water-Thrush in its sharp
abruptness, but again it is too long."

According to Albert R. Brand (1938) there is considerable variation in
the pitch of the song of the eastern yellow warbler, from 8,775
vibrations per second in the highest note to 3,475 in the lowest note,
and with an approximate mean of 5,900 vibrations per second. This is far
below the approximate mean of 8,900 for the black-poll warbler, but well
above the average of 4,000 for all passerine birds.

_Field marks._--One hardly needs field marks to recognize a yellow
warbler; it is the yellowest of all our warblers at all seasons, even
the wing and tail feathers are edged with yellow, and there is no white
in either wings or tail. The youngest birds likewise show some yellow on
the under parts and in the flight feathers. See the descriptions of
plumages for details.

_Enemies._--The arch-enemy of the yellow warbler is undoubtedly the
cowbird. This warbler is one of the very commonest victims of this
parasite, and comparatively few of its nests are not visited at least
once by a cowbird in regions where the latter is very common. Dr.
Friedmann (1929) has about 500 records of such imposition on the eastern
yellow warbler. Everyone who has examined nests of this warbler in any
number has found one or more eggs of the cowbird in some of the nests.
This parasitic habit has cost this species of warbler many extra hours
of unexpected labor and the loss of many eggs and young. But the most
interesting fact about it is that the warbler has found a way to combat
the evil and, in many cases, to defeat the plans of the cowbird, by
either deserting the nest in which the strange egg is deposited or by
building a second floor over it and leaving the alien egg to cool off in
the "cellar."

The yellow warbler is not the only bird that has learned to do this
occasionally, but it is the only one that does it regularly and
persistently in spite of repeated contributions from the cowbird. Even
if the warbler has one of its own eggs in the nest when the cowbird's
egg is deposited it may bury both the eggs by building a story above
them, but if there are two or three warbler's eggs in the nest before
the alien egg appears, the warbler may feel obliged to incubate and
hatch out the stranger, with the usual results of her own young being
crowded out and lost. Two or more cowbird's eggs are almost sure to be
deserted or buried. But the cowbird is very persistent and keeps on
laying, as successive stories are added to the nest by the energetic and
persevering warblers. Two-story nests are very common, and as many as
three, four, five, and six stories have been recorded. Mr. Forbush
(1929) was told by Dr. H. F. Perkins "of one case where a six-storied
nest was built, with a cowbird's egg in every one." Mr. Du Bois tells me
of a new nest he found in a low bush, with another nest, about half
completed and only about a foot below it, containing a fresh, cold
cowbird's egg. Out of 43 nests found by Dr. George M. Sutton (1928) in
Pymatuning Swamp, Pa., "a Cowbird egg was found in only one nest. This
is most unusual, but is due, as elsewhere stated, to the protection
against these parasites afforded by the Red-winged Blackbirds which
would not tolerate a Cowbird anywhere about the marshes."

Snakes sometimes destroy the young, as related above; squirrels, blue
jays, and other predatory mammals and birds rob the nests; and the
adults must always be on the alert to escape the many enemies that prey
on all small birds.

Harold S. Peters (1936) records only one louse, _Philopterus
subflavescens_ (Geof.), as an external parasite on the eastern yellow

_Fall._--The striking feature of the fall migration of the eastern
yellow warbler is its earliness. The birds begin to move away from their
nesting haunts as soon as the young are able to take care of themselves,
and the southward migration is well under way before midsummer. Smith
(1943) says that, in Vermont, "during many seasons, the species is not
seen later than July. Departure dates for local summer residents range
from July 15 to the 30th. Later records occur between August 18 and
September 9th." These later records are probably for birds from farther
north. There seems to be a wide spread between the times that the
earliest and latest birds leave.

Dr. L. H. Walkinshaw writes to me: "To me it is interesting how soon
after nesting has been completed these warblers disappear. After July
10, it is very hard to find one of the species here in Michigan, and
after August 10, almost impossible. It does stay some in certain good
feeding areas, but the majority have left long before August." According
to Milton B. Trautman (1940), the migration in Ohio begins early in
July, reaches its height during the first half of August, and only
stragglers are seen after September 10.

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says that, in South Carolina--

the Yellow Warbler is positively uncommon during the spring migrations,
but exceedingly abundant in summer and autumn. * * * By July 4, the
return migration takes place and a few young birds arrive, but it is not
until the 10th or 15th that they are common. * * * The habits of the
birds are entirely changed, however, in summer and autumn, for then they
frequent the cotton fields, as well as lands which have been planted
with peas for forage. It is also not unusual in autumn to see as many as
twenty or more of these little birds far out in the salt marshes, where
they find food in abundance. The species is so very abundant in late
summer and autumn that it is not unusual to encounter hundreds of
individuals in a few hours on plantations or in close proximity to salt

Prof. W. W. Cooke (1904) writes: "Though in migration the yellow warbler
occurs in Florida as far south as Key West and is sometimes fairly
common in northern Florida, the numbers that migrate through the
southern part of the State must be very small, for not a bird passing
north or south has been reported from any of the Florida lighthouses.
The migration route of the yellow warblers that breed near the Atlantic
coast is evidently southwest to northern Georgia and Alabama, and then
across the Gulf of Mexico."

Perhaps the main flight from Florida and the other Gulf States is across
the Gulf to Yucatán and then down through Central to South America, for
there seem to be no records for Cuba for the eastern yellow warbler.
There is a regular migration along the coast of Texas. Dickey and van
Rossem (1938) say that "the eastern yellow warbler migrates through El
Salvador in fair numbers, but no specimens were taken at any time during
the winter. In the fall, particularly, great numbers are in evidence.
The first arrivals reached Lake Olomega on August 1, but the main body
did not begin to drift through until about the middle of that month."

Frederick C. Lincoln (1939) remarks: "Redstarts and Yellow Warblers,
doubtless the more southern breeders in each case, have been seen
returning southward on the northern coast of South America just about
the time that the earliest of those breeding in the North have reached
Florida on their way to winter quarters."

_Winter._--Dr. Alexander F. Skutch contributes the following winter
notes: "This morning as I sat at breakfast a yellow warbler flitted
among the shrubbery outside the window. Here in Central America, through
8 or 9 months out of the 12, this well-known bird occupies the same
place in dooryard, garden, hedgerow and scrubby pasture as during its
briefer sojourn in the more northerly regions where it nests. None of
the resident warblers of Central America is quite so abundant and
familiar about human dwellings. Everywhere it avoids the heavy forest
and prefers the sunlight that floods the clearings made by man.

"It is one of the first of the visitants from the North to arrive in
Central America, appearing in Guatemala as early as August 9, reaching
Honduras by at least the fourteenth, Costa Rica by the seventeenth, and
Panamá by the twenty-second of the month. These early dates are for the
Caribbean lowlands, along which it appears to migrate. It arrives later
on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, especially in Costa Rica, where it
has not been recorded before August 24, at San José, and not until
September 11 in the Térraba Valley, still more isolated from the
Caribbean flyway by lofty, forested mountains. But by the end of
September, it is well distributed as a winter resident over both coasts
of Central America, and in the interior up to at least 5,000 feet,
becoming rarer at the upper limit of its altitudinal range. Much above
5,000 feet it apparently does not winter; but it is occasionally seen in
September in the high mountains as a bird of passage. A heat-loving
warbler, it is most common in the lowlands where, in the plantation
districts of northern Central America during the winter months, it is
among the most abundant birds, whether resident or migratory.

"Although a number of wood warblers which winter in the Central American
highlands are gregarious, those that center in the lowlands are
typically solitary. In this, the yellow warbler is no exception. Each
wintering bird appears to have its own territory, from which it attempts
to drive others of its kind. Trespassers are scolded with insistent
_chips_; or more rarely, soon after his arrival, a male will sing while
defending his claim. Near San Miguel de Desamparados, Costa Rica (4,600
feet), on October 1, 1935, I made the following note: 'This morning,
which for a change was bright and calm, I heard a yellow warbler singing
in the low fig trees near the house. Upon going out to look, I found
that there were two yellow warblers in the trees. One was trying to
drive the other away; but the pursued always circled around and
returned. I watched them for a long time; but this indecisive action
continued without any change in the situation. In the intervals of the
pursuit, the warblers (or at least one of them) would sing, but in a low
and imperfect fashion, far inferior to the yellow warbler's summer
song.' Again, on October 31: 'After the Wilson warbler, the most
abundant winter visitor is the yellow warbler. The bird who on October 1
drove its competitor out of the fig trees beside the house still retains
these trees and the surrounding _Inga_ trees as its domain.'

"The yellow warbler sings far less while in Central America than many
other wintering species. Exceptionally, one will be found singing
profusely. In early October, 1934, I came upon such a bird among the
coffee groves of a great plantation on the lower Pacific slope of
Guatemala. His behavior was so far out of the ordinary that I am tempted
to copy in full the notes I made upon it at the time: October 5--On the
afternoon of my arrival at 'Dolores,' I went out for a walk through the
coffee groves. From among the 'chalum' (_Inga_) trees which shaded the
coffee bushes, I heard a bird's song which seemed to belong to a
warbler; but I did not recognize it as the utterance of any species I
knew. After searching for a time among the tree-tops, I spotted the
singer, and was surprised to find him a yellow warbler. He was
apparently a young bird, for he lacked the chestnut splashes along the
sides which distinguish the mature males. He repeated over and over
again his little song of four or five notes, which was so unlike the
familiar song of the yellow warbler in the eastern United States that I
did not at first recognize it; but once I had identified the singer, I
realized that I was listening to a shortened and modified form of the
typical song.

"As I stood watching and listening to this eccentric warbler, the rain
clouds which had been gathering darkly in the west began to surrender
their pent-up waters; and the sudden shower approached across the
plantation with the roar of a myriad fat drops striking against the
large leaves of the Ingas and the far larger ones of the bananas which
shaded the plantation. I took refuge from the rain beneath the broad
expanse of a banana leaf, which completely shielded me from the beating
downpour. Soon the heavy shower exhausted itself; and I emerged from
beneath my green roof. The warbler, who had taken shelter from the
shower somewhere in the foliage above me, resumed his cheerful singing.

"'On the next two days, I passed by the spot where I had heard the
warbler singing, on the way to and from my botanical collecting ground.
Morning and afternoon, I heard the same voice in the same part of the
coffee plantation, where the bird seemed to have fixed his residence.'

"Yellow warblers may sing in Central America in the spring as well as
the fall. Last year, the male yellow warbler that wintered about my
house in Costa Rica sang briefly in the early morning from April 12 to
24. After April 28, I saw no more of his kind in the vicinity.

"From November 1936 until February of the following year, a yellow
warbler slept every night in a bush of _Hibiscus mutabilis_ beside my
cabin in Rivas, Costa Rica. He rested upon one of the long leaf-stalks,
where the broad blades of the higher leaves formed a roof above him, but
he was exposed on the sides and easily visible from the ground. He
always slept alone.

"Early dates of fall arrival in Central America are: Guatemala--passim
(Griscom), August 9; Sierra de Tecpán, 8,500 feet, September 4, 1933;
Huehuetenango, 6,500 feet, September 11, 1934. Honduras--Tela, August
14, 1930. Costa Rica--Puerto Limón, August 17, 1935; San José (Cherrie),
August 24; Cartago, September 6, 1938; Basin of El General, 2,000-3,000
feet, September 13, 1936 and September 11, 1942. Panamá--Canal Zone
(Arbib and Loetscher), August 22, 1934.

"Late dates of spring departure are: [British Guiana (Beebe), April 10.]
Panamá--Barro Colorado Island, April 23, 1935; Almirante, April 29,
1929. Costa Rica--Basin of El General, April 30, 1936, April 29, 1937,
May 7, 1939, May 3, 1940, April 28, 1942; San José (Cherrie), May 11.
Honduras--Tela, May 9, 1930. Guatemala--passim (Griscom), May 6; Los
Amates, Motagua Valley, May 11, 1932."

Todd and Carriker (1922), reporting for the Santa Marta region of
Colombia, say that the eastern yellow warbler is "a common winter
resident throughout the whole of the lowlands and lower foothills, but
rare above the coastal plain. It frequents shrubbery, open ground with
scattering bushes, the low growth along the banks of streams and the
sea-beach, etc.--the same kind of covert in general to which it is so
partial in the breeding season."


_Range._--North America, northern South America and the West Indies.

_Breeding range._--The yellow warblers of North America breed =north=
to north-central Alaska (Kobuk River and Fort Yukon); northern
Yukon (Potato Creek, 20 miles above Old Crow River); northwestern
Mackenzie (Richard Island, Fort Anderson, Lake St. Croix, and
Oot-sing-gree-ay-Island, Great Slave Lake); northern Manitoba (Lac Du
Brochet, Churchill, York Factory, and Severn House); and central Quebec
and Labrador (Richmond Gulf, Grand Falls of the Hamilton River, probably
Northwest River, and Cartwright). =East= to eastern Labrador
(Cartwright); Newfoundland (St. Anthony, Twillingate, and St. John's);
Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Island, Halifax, and Yarmouth); and the
Atlantic coastal region south to eastern and central North Carolina
(Pine Island, Lake Mattamuskeet, Raleigh, and Charlotte); central South
Carolina (Columbia); and central Georgia (Augusta and Macon). =South= to
central Georgia (Macon); central Alabama, rarely (Autaugaville);
southern Arkansas (Monticello and Arkadelphia); northeastern Texas
(Paris, Commerce, and Dallas); west-central Oklahoma (Fort Reno and
Thomas); southern New Mexico (Roswell and Silver City); probably
southwestern Texas (Fort Hancock and El Paso); northern Sonora
(Moctezuma, Magdalena, and Colonia Indepencia); and northwestern Baja
California (El Rosario). =West= to the Pacific coast from northern Baja
California (El Rosario) to western Alaska (Frosty Peak, Alaska
Peninsula; Nushagak, Hooper Bay, Saint Michael, and Kobuk River).
Wandering birds have been collected at Icy Cape and Wainwright on the
northwest coast of Alaska several hundred miles north of the
northernmost breeding record.

_Winter range._--The yellow warbler is found in winter =north= to
southern Baja California (La Paz); Jalisco (La Barca); Morelos
(Cuernavaca and Yautepec); southern Veracruz (Tlacotalpan); Yucatán
(Tunkás); and Quintana Roo (Akumal); occasional or accidental in winter
near Brownsville, Tex. =East= to Quintana Roo (Akumal); Honduras (Tela
and Ceiba); Nicaragua (Bluefields); Panamá (Almirante and the Canal
Zone); Venezuela (Trinidad Island); British Guiana (Georgetown and the
Berbice River); Surinam (Paramaribo); Cayenne (Cayenne and Approuague);
and northeastern Brazil (Chaves). =South= to northern Brazil (Chaves,
and Bôa Vista on the Rio Branco) and central Perú (La Merced). =West= to
central western Perú (La Merced); western Ecuador (Guayaquil, Chones,
and Esmeraldas); western Colombia (Condoto, Medellín, and Turbo);
western Costa Rica (El General, San José, and Bolson); El Salvador
(Puerto del Triunfo); western Guatemala (San José and Matzantinango);
Chiapas (Huehuetán); Guerrero (Coyuca); Colima (Manzanillo); and
southern Baja California (La Paz).

The range as outlined is divided into several subspecies or geographic
races. The Newfoundland warbler (_D. p. amnicola_) breeds from central
western Alaska south to central British Columbia, central Alberta,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, central Ontario and Quebec northward and east
to Newfoundland; the Alaska yellow warbler (_D. p. rubiginosa_) breeds
in the coastal region of southern Alaska; the Rocky Mountain yellow
warbler (_D. p. morcomi_) breeds from southern British Columbia and
Washington east through the Rocky Mountains south to northern Nevada,
northern Utah and northern New Mexico; the California yellow warbler
(_D. p. brewsteri_) breeds west of the Sierras in Oregon and California;
the Sonora yellow warbler (_D. p. sonorana_) breeds from southeastern
California, southern Nevada, and southern New Mexico to northwestern
Mexico and western Texas; the eastern yellow warbler (_D. p. aestiva_)
breeds from southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains southward. The
Cuban golden warbler (_D. p. gundlachi_) which is resident in Cuba, the
Isle of Pines, and adjacent Cays has been found nesting on Bay Key, Fla.
The mangrove, or "golden," yellow warbler (_D. p. castaneiceps_) breeds
on both coasts of Baja California from about latitude 27° 14´ N. (San
Lucas) southward; and on the west coast of Mexico from southern Sonora
(Guaymas) south to Nayarit (San Blas). (Apparently it is only slightly
migratory, if at all.)

_Migration._--Early dates of spring departure are: Perú--Iquitos, March
11. British Guiana--Abary River, March 25. Venezuela--Rancho Grande,
April 8. Colombia--Santa Marta Region, May 1. Panamá--Canal Zone, May
12. Costa Rica--San José, May 11. El Salvador--Chilata, April 24.
Guatemala--Quiriguá, May 11. Honduras--Tela, May 9. Mexico--Tabasco,
Balancán, May 11; Nuevo León, Montemorelos, May 21. Florida--Seven Oaks,
May 27. Mississippi--Deer Island, May 25. Louisiana--Chenier au Tigre,
May 21. Texas--Kerrville, May 31.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Pensacola, April 6.
Georgia, Athens, April 7. South Carolina--Charleston, April 3. North
Carolina--Windsor, April 4. Virginia--Lawrenceville, April 13. District
of Columbia--Washington, April 2. Pennsylvania--Wayne, April 4.
New York--New York, April 19. Massachusetts--Taunton, April 24.
Vermont--Burlington, April 28. Maine--Portland, May 2. New
Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 1. Nova Scotia--Wolfville, May 8.
Quebec--East Sherbrooke, May 6. Prince Edward Island--North River, May
6. Newfoundland--St. Anthony, June 5. Louisiana--Avery Island, March 23.
Mississippi--Shell Mound, April 1. Arkansas--Tillar, April 5.
Kentucky--Eubank, April 12. Indiana--Richmond, April 14. Ohio--Oberlin,
April 12. Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 19. Ontario--London, April 20.
Missouri--St. Louis, April 15. Iowa--Cedar Rapids, April 20.
Wisconsin--Reedsburg--April 27. Minnesota--Minneapolis, April 27.
Texas--Victoria, March 28. Oklahoma--Stillwater, April 16.
Kansas--Topeka, April 16. Nebraska--Red Cloud, April 21.
South Dakota--Faulkton, April 22. Manitoba--Aweme, April 30.
Saskatchewan--Regina, May 4. Arizona--Fort Lowell, March 19.
New Mexico--Albuquerque, April 24. Utah--Provo, April 25.
Colorado--Littleton, April 23. Montana--Fortine, May 1.
Alberta--Camrose, May 3. Mackenzie--Simpson, May 21. California--Diablo,
March 12. Oregon--Portland, April 17. Washington--Camas, April 5.
British Columbia--Comox, April 25; Atlin, May 15.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska--Ketchikan, September 6.
British Columbia--Atlin, August 26; Chilliwack, September 9.
Washington--Destruction Island, September 23. Oregon--Newport, September
18. California--Berkeley, October 10. Alberta--Edmonton, September 1.
Montana--Great Falls, September 25. Wyoming--Yellowstone National Park,
September 21. Colorado--Fort Morgan, October 2. Arizona--Organ Pipe
Cactus National Monument, October 17. Saskatchewan--East End, September
5. Manitoba--Oak Lake, September 18. North Dakota--Fargo, September 19.
South Dakota--Aberdeen, September 20. Kansas--Hays, September 23.
Texas--Somerset, October 8. Minnesota--Lanesboro, September 10.
Wisconsin--Milwaukee, September 20. Iowa--Marshalltown, September 26.
Missouri--Bolivar, October 26. Michigan--Grand Rapids, October 8.
Ontario--Ottawa, September 29. Ohio--Cleveland, September 30.
Illinois--Chicago, September 29. Kentucky--Hickman, September 23.
Mississippi--Gulfport, October 20. Louisiana--New Orleans, October 27.
Newfoundland--Tompkins, September 9. Quebec--Montreal, September 3. New
Brunswick--St. John, September 2. Nova Scotia--Yarmouth, September 11.
Maine--Winthrop, September 23. Vermont--St. Johnsbury, September 21.
Massachusetts--Stockbridge, October 1. New York--Rochester, October 30.
Pennsylvania--Berwyn, October 7. District of Columbia--Washington,
October 12. Virginia--Lexington, October 10. South Carolina--Charleston,
October 10. Georgia--Milledgeville, October 27. Florida--Fort Myers,
October 25.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Louisiana--New Orleans, July 15.
Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, July 7. Florida--St. Marks, July 18.
Mexico--Sonora, Sáric, July 31; Oaxaca, Tapanatepec, August 20.
Honduras--Lancetilla, August 27. El Salvador--Le Unión, August 1.
Nicaragua--Bluefields, August 22. Costa Rica--Puerto Limón, August 17.
Panamá--Almirante, August 13. Colombia--Bonda, Santa Marta Region,
August 27. Venezuela--Cantaura Anzoatique, September 27. British
Guiana--Abary River, September 2. Surinam--Paramaribo, August 28.

_Banding._--The majority of the banding recoveries indicate the return
to the place of banding and give records of longevity. Three birds
banded as adults at Wilton, N. Dak., were retrapped at the same station
in the following year. One banded at Sioux City, Iowa, on May 17, 1929,
was killed by an auto at the same place June 18, 1932. One banded at
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on May 30, 1926, was retrapped on May 29, 1929;
another banded at the same station, May 20, 1928, was killed by an auto
June 28, 1934. A yellow warbler banded at North Eastham, Cape Cod,
Mass., on May 28, 1931, was retrapped at the same station May 15, 1932,
May 18, 1936, and August 6, 1937.

_Casual records._--The yellow warbler has twice been collected in
Bermuda: November 23, 1875; and October 14, 1903. It has also been
observed near Habana, Cuba, on September 3 and 10, 1939. There are three
winter records in South Carolina; it was seen at a feeding station at
Summerville in the winter of 1939 and on January 21, 1940; and at
Charleston on January 18, 1947.

_Egg dates._--California: 110 records, April 16 to July 15; 56 records,
May 21 to June 19, indicating the height of the season.

Massachusetts: 113 records, May 19 to June 30; 82 records, May 27 to
June 7.

Minnesota: 26 records, May 29 to June 23; 17 records, May 29 to June 8.

New Jersey: 32 records, May 15 to June 24; 24 records, May 26 to June 7.

Utah: 23 records, May 8 to July 16; 12 records, June 6 to 17.

Washington: 21 records, May 28 to June 24; 11 records, June 2 to 7.

Baja California: 11 records, May 8 to June 12; 6 records, May 15 to June
2, indicating the height of the season.

Mexico: 6 records, June 4 to 20 (Harris).




Based on a series of 14 adult males and 3 adult females from
Newfoundland, Charles F. Batchelder (1918) gave the above name to the
yellow warblers that breed in that region. After giving a detailed
description of the type from Curslet, Newfoundland, he remarks: "When
seen in series, the yellow of the under parts is duller, less richly
golden, and the chestnut streaks are darker. In comparison with
_aestiva_, the female is duskier, less yellowish, throughout the upper
parts. * * *

"In general coloring _D. ae. amnicola_ shows a certain similarity to _D.
ae. rubiginosa_, but it is readily distinguishable from that race by the
yellow forehead which, as in _D. ae. aestiva_, contrasts strongly with
the green of the back."

Its breeding range extends from Newfoundland to central Alaska, and from
Nova Scotia to British Columbia, which includes nearly all of Canada. It
migrates through most of the United States, principally through the
Mississippi River Basin, and winters in Mexico and possibly South

Only a few nesting data are referable to the Newfoundland yellow
warbler. Henry Mousley (1926), at Hatley, Quebec, saw a female yellow
warbler leaving a large cedar hedge, and says: "Proceeding to the spot
from which she came out, I found the nest, which, unlike the usual run
of nests of this species, was heavily lined with feathers, instead of
plant down. * * * It was nine feet above the ground, in the forks of a
small cedar tree."

Roderick MacFarlane (1908) found this warbler abundant in northern
Mackenzie, where the nests were "placed on dwarf willows and small scrub
pine at a height of a few feet above the ground." Dr. E. W. Nelson
(1887) writes:

This is, perhaps, the most abundant warbler throughout Alaska. It is
found everywhere in the wooded interior, on the bushy borders of the
water-courses, or frequenting the scattered clumps of stunted alders on
the shores of Bering Sea, and the coast of the Arctic about Kotzebue
Sound. * * * It breeds to the shores of the Arctic Ocean wherever it can
find a willow or alder patch wherein to build its nest and shelter its
young. * * * In fall, from the last of July to towards the last of
August, they come about the houses and native villages to feast on the
fare they find provided abundantly in those localities, until, a little
later in the season, a few chilling storms send them trooping away with
others of their kind to far distant winter quarters.

Dr. Herbert Brandt (1943) writes:

The Newfoundland Yellow Warbler was not observed about Hooper Bay, but
as soon as I reached the willows near the mouth of the Yukon River I
found it common, and also of like distribution at the other stops that I
made on the river as far up as Mountain Village. * * *

The nest of the Newfoundland Yellow Warbler in the Yukon delta is placed
usually in a small willow from two to six feet above the ground. The
foliage in early July is but partly unfolded, for the alders are yet in
their golden curls and the willows in their silver catkins, so the nest
is rather conspicuous.

The bird chooses a pronged fork usually with not more than three or four
shoots, and in this form constructs its beautiful, trim nest, which is
made of plant down and inner bark shreds, all circularly woven and
firmly rimmed.

Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) say: "The notes of Mr. Kennicott and
the memoranda of Messrs. McFarlane, Ross, and Lockhart attest the
extreme abundance of this species in the farthest Arctic regions. In
nearly every instance the nests were placed in willows from two to five
feet from the ground, and near water. In one instance Mr. Ross found the
eggs of this species in the nest of _Turdus swainsoni_, which had either
been deserted or the parent killed, as the eggs were in it, and would
probably have been hatched by the Warbler with her own."

As evidence of the late migration of this subspecies, Robie W. Tufts
writes to me from Nova Scotia: "The latest date of departure which
appears to be normal is October 7, 1936, though they generally leave
during the second week of September. On November 25, 1929, a female was
collected by me at Wolfville. The bird was searching for food very
actively and its general behavior was decidedly abnormal. The bird's
body showed slight traces of emaciation." Birds that have been recorded
in Massachusetts as late as September 30, long after our local breeding
birds have left, were probably of this subspecies.




This subspecies was formerly supposed to range throughout most of
Alaska, but its breeding range is now understood to be restricted to the
coast region of southern Alaska and British Columbia, from Kodiak Island
(the type locality) southward to Vancouver Island. It migrates through
California to Mexico and Central America, and probably spends the winter
in South America. In El Salvador, according to Dickey and van Rossem
(1938), "this race was found only as a fairly common spring migrant
through the upper levels of the Arid Lower Tropical. As with _D. p.
aestiva_ the winter range undoubtedly lies farther to the south. It is
notable that _rubiginosa_ occurs at somewhat higher elevation than the
other three forms and was not found at all in the 'tierra caliente.'"
This race has been reported in Kansas and in central Texas, but these
birds may have been _amnicola_, which somewhat resembles _rubiginosa_
and which had not been accepted at that time.

Ridgway (1902) describes the Alaska yellow warbler as "similar to _D.
ae. aestiva_, but slightly smaller and much duller in color. Adult male
darker and duller olive-green above, the pileum concolor with the back
or else becoming slightly more yellowish on forehead (very rarely
distinctly yellowish on forehead and fore part of crown); wing-edgings
less conspicuous, mostly yellowish olive-green, sometimes inclining to
yellow on greater coverts. Adult female darker and duller olive-greenish
above, duller yellow below." He might have added that the chestnut
streaks on the breast are narrower than in _aestiva_.

Nothing seems to have been published on the nest and eggs of the Alaska
yellow warbler, nor on its habits, all of which probably do not differ
materially from those of the species elsewhere in similar environment.




This is another race that was described many years ago by H. K. Coale
(1887) but has only recently been accepted by the A. O. U. Coale gave it
its scientific name in honor of J. Frean Morcom and called it the
western yellow warbler. The following remarks by Dickey and van Rossem
(1938) tell the story very well:

The race of yellow warbler summering in the Great Basin and Rocky
Mountain regions of the United States of late years has been generally
overlooked and has been synonymized commonly with _aestiva_ or, in part,
with _brewsteri_. Although not a well differentiated form, its
characters are readily apparent in series, and there is no reason why it
should not be accorded equal standing with the races currently
recognized. The underparts of the males are heavily marked, and in this
respect _morcomi_ is not distinguishable from _aestiva_. Dorsally,
however, _morcomi_ is darker and less yellowish green, particularly on
the interscapular region. The females are, age for age, more buffy (less
yellowish) below and darker and more grayish above than the females of
_aestiva_. In comparison with _brewsteri_, _morcomi_ (particularly the
bill) is larger, and the males are more heavily streaked below. The
range of _morcomi_ is the Rocky Mountain region of the United States,
north to Wyoming and Idaho, west to the eastern slope of the Sierra
Nevada, and south (in the western part of its range) to Mammoth, Mono
County, California. We have not seen material from the southern Rocky
Mountains; so we cannot state the southern limits in that region.

They call it a "common spring and fall migrant and winter visitant in
the lowlands," of El Salvador. "Dates of arrival and departure are
August 1 and April 9."

Angus M. Woodbury has sent me a copy of the manuscript for "The Birds of
Utah," by Woodbury, Cottam, and Sugden, from which I infer that the
haunts, nesting, and other habits of the "western yellow warbler," as
they call it, do not differ materially from those of the well-known
eastern bird. They say of its status in Utah: "This yellow warbler is a
common summer resident from early May to late August, the vanguard
sometimes reaching here in late April and stragglers sometimes lingering
into September, the latest record being September 23. It is primarily a
bird of the riparian growths along water edges, either of streams, ponds
or lakes or irrigated areas, particularly of the valleys and lower
canyons, but occurs higher in the canyons in suitable habitat up to at
least 8,000 or 9,000 feet. It does not seem to be attracted to large
trees such as cottonwoods, but seems to prefer the more leafy shrubbery
and small trees of developmental stages in ecological succession. In
migration, it sometimes leaves this niche and may occasionally be found
elsewhere. * * *

"In nesting, it is usually found in a bush, chaparral or small tree
stratum, seldom going to the ground or to the tops of trees. Its nests
are compactly woven cups generally placed from 3 to 10 feet above
ground, sometimes 15 feet, in rosebushes, willows, choke cherries,
hawk-berries, oaks, young cottonwood or boxelder trees, usually within a
short distance of the water's edge. The nest is usually composed of gray
plant fibers, bark shreds or grasses and is usually lined with some
downy substance such as cottonwood or willow cotton or hair."




The 1931 A. O. U. Check-List gives the breeding range of this subspecies
as the "Pacific coast strip from western Washington south through Oregon
and California, west of the Great Basin and southeastern deserts to
about lat. 30° in Lower California." It intergrades with _rubiginosa_ on
the north and with _morcomi_ to the eastward, but exact boundaries are
difficult to define. It seems to range well up into the mountains, for
James B. Dixon tells me that he has found it nesting in Mono County,
Calif., at altitudes of 6,500 to 9,200 feet.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1903) in an interesting study of western yellow
warblers, bestowed the above name on the California bird, for which he
gives the following subspecific characters: "Resembling _Dendroica
aestiva aestiva_, from which it differs in smaller size, paler (or less
brightly yellow) coloration, and, in the male, narrower streaking on
under surface; differs from _Dendroica aestiva rubiginosa_ in much
smaller size and yellower coloration, and from _Dendroica aestiva
sonorana_ in smaller size and much darker coloration."

_Spring._--Both _rubiginosa_ and _brewsteri_ occur in California and in
Washington on migrations. As it is difficult to distinguish the two
forms in life, some of the following remarks may refer to either or both
of these two subspecies. Mrs. Amelia S. Allen writes to me that this
species "is the latest of the warblers to arrive in the San Francisco
Bay region for the breeding season. Sometimes they are here by April 8,
but the average date is about April 18. At Lake Tahoe, the first week of
June, breeding pairs were settled in the willows and migrants on their
way farther north were migrating through."

Samuel F. Rathbun says in his Washington notes: "Our experience with
this species, based on many years of observation, is that the birds in
the spring migration progress northward in a series of what may be
called waves. Invariably the first noted will be one or two individuals,
and these are heard for a short time only and evidently move on. Then
there is a break of a day or so before the next are heard, a larger
number. A period of a day, or perhaps two or three, may again elapse
before the main body of birds arrive and they are heard on all sides.
Common in and about the city at this period, it haunts the shade trees
lining the streets and the fruit trees in the gardens, but is not at all
partial to the outlying sections, except in the more cultivated areas
and the orchards. It is essentially a bird of the older settled
districts, wherever fruit trees and deciduous trees may abound."

For May 6, 1924, he remarks, "These warblers drifted by all day, in ones
and twos or threes, straggling, but, although seemingly widely
separated, always within hearing distance of each other. At times there
will be a break when apparently none are passing, then in the distance
the song will be heard again, soon growing louder, as the bird draws
nearer, following in the wake of others that have preceded him, his song
in turn growing fainter in the distance after he has passed."

_Nesting._--The summer haunts and nesting habits of the California
yellow warbler are generally similar to those of the eastern bird.
Grinnell and Storer (1924) write:

Yellow warblers nest abundantly on the floor of Yosemite Valley. Some of
the nests are in growths close to water, whereas others are located in
brush tangles or other rank growths back some distance from the streams.
A nest found June 7, 1915, may be taken as fairly typical. It was 52
inches above the ground in the crotch of a forking stem of a chokecherry
which grew in a clump of the same plant, and was shaded by a black oak.
As usual it was higher than wide outside, being 3-1/2 inches in height
by 3 to 3-1/4 inches in diameter. The cuplike cavity was 1-3/4 inches
across at the top and the same in depth at the center. Shreds of bark
and flat plant fibers were the principal materials used in construction,
the lining being of horsehair and a few feathers.

One nest was "4 feet above the ground in a mountain lilac (_Ceanothus
integerrimus_)," and another "was placed about 15 feet above the ground
in a small pine tree growing at the margin of a pond. It rested on the
next to the topmost whorl of branches and one side was against the
slender trunk of the tree."

In the Lassen Peak region, Grinnell, Dixon, and Linsdale (1930) report
four nests in willows, one in a wax-berry (_Symphoricarpos_), one in a
snowbush, and one fastened between stems of rose and willow at the edge
of a clump of rose.

_Eggs._--Three or four eggs seem to constitute the commonest set for the
California yellow warbler. These are hardly distinguishable from those
of the eastern bird, though they average, perhaps, more heavily marked.
The measurements of 40 eggs average 16.6 by 12.4 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =18.3= by 13.5, 17.8 by =15.0=, =14.7=
by 12.2, and 16.3 by =11.4= (Harris).

_Food._--Prof. F. E. L. Beal (1907) analyzed the contents of 98 stomachs
of California yellow warblers, and found that the animal matter amounts
to 97 percent of the food, consisting wholly of insects and a few

The largest item is Hymenoptera, which amounts to over 30 percent,
almost half of which are ants. The remainder are small bees and wasps,
some of which are probably parasitic species, though none were
positively identified. * * * Caterpillars, with a few moths, aggregate
over 18 percent.

Beetles form nearly 16 percent of the diet, and embrace about a dozen
families, of which the only useful one is that of the ladybirds
(_Coccinellidae_), which are eaten to a small extent. The great bulk of
the beetle food consists of small leaf-beetles (_Chrysomelidae_), with
some weevils and several others. One stomach contained the remains of 52
specimens of _Notoxus alamedae_, a small beetle living on trees. Bugs
(Hemiptera) constitute over 19 percent of the food, and are eaten
regularly every month. Most of them consist of leaf-hoppers (Jassidae)
and other active forms, but the black olive scale appeared in a number
of stomachs. Plant-lice were not positively identified, but some
stomachs contained a pasty mass, which was probably made up of these
insects in an advanced stage of digestion.

Flies seem to be acceptable to the summer warbler; they are eaten to the
extent of nearly 9 percent. Some of them are of the family of the house
fly, others are long-legged tipulids, but the greater number were the
smaller species commonly known as gnats. A few small soft-bodied
Orthoptera (tree-crickets), a dragon-fly, and a few remains not
identified, in all about 5 percent, made up the rest of the animal food.

Only about 2-1/2 percent of the food was vegetable matter, made up
mainly of fruit pulp in a single stomach, one or two seeds and rubbish.

Rathbun (MS.) says that this warbler "shows some partiality for feeding
on aphids, for we have many times watched it in an orchard carefully
scanning the leaves on a tree for this insect."

All other phases of the life histories of this and the following two
subspecies do not seem to differ materially from those of the eastern
yellow warbler and need not be repeated here.

_Fall._--According to Rathbun's notes, all the resident, breeding yellow
warblers have departed from Washington "by the latter part of August,
and in some seasons we have not heard the bird after the twenty-fifth;
it is one of the few species that sing more or less during all of its
sojourn here, and its song in late summer is almost as good as on its
arrival in the spring. A break in the movement south of this species
seems to occur about August 20 to 25. Then, early in September, the
notes of the yellow warbler begin to be heard again. We have the idea
that these may be of the Alaska yellow warbler."

Mrs. Allen writes to me from Berkeley, Calif.: "Breeding birds leave the
bay region in late July or early August; migrants from farther north
begin to go through in September; the latest date on which I have seen
them is October 16, 1920. I usually see them in the shade trees along
the streets or in the woods when they come to bathe in my bird pool. But
I have two records which show them in very different situations:
September 18, 1933, on a hill slope that had been recently burnt over, a
group of these warblers with horned larks and Savannah sparrows; and on
September 25, 1941, at Point Reyes lighthouse, hunting for food in the
low, dry lupines just inside the rocky point. One could not help
wondering if they had just come to a landing place after a long flight
over the ocean. They were in immature plumage."

According to the 1931 Check-List, the California yellow warbler
"migrates through eastern California, Arizona, and Lower California;
winters sparsely in the Cape District of Lower California and south to
Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica."

_Winter._--Dickey and van Rossem (1938) record this warbler as a "winter
visitant and spring migrant in the Arid Lower Tropical Zone," in El
Salvador. "The small Pacific coast race, _brewsterii_, is apparently
relatively the least common of the four forms found in El Salvador; at
any rate, the small number of specimens taken indicates that this is the
case. Yellow warblers were common in January at Puerto del Triunfo and
in February at Rio San Miguel, but unfortunately only one specimen was
taken at each place. Whether all of these winter birds were _brewsteri_
and _morcomi_ is problematical."




This is the palest of all the yellow warblers, one of the many pale
races of the southwestern desert regions. Its breeding range extends
from southeastern California, southern Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico to
central western Texas, Sonora, and Chihuahua; and it winters from Mexico
southward to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

It is best described by Ridgway (1902) as "similar to _D. æ. æstiva_,
but much paler; adult male lighter and much more yellowish olive-green
above, the back frequently (usually?) streaked with chestnut, pileum
usually wholly clear yellow, lower rump and upper tail-coverts yellow,
faintly streaked with olive-greenish; wing edgings all yellow; under
parts lighter yellow than in _D. æ. æstiva_, and with chest and sides
much more narrowly (often faintly) streaked with chestnut; adult female
conspicuously paler than in _D. æ. aestiva_, the upper parts often
largely pale grayish, the under parts usually very pale buffy yellow."

Woodbury, Cottam, and Sugden (MS.) say of its status in southern Utah:
"This race of yellow warbler is a breeder of the streamside fringes of
willows, tamarix, and brush of various kinds along the San Juan and
lower Colorado Rivers. It undoubtedly extends up the Colorado above the
mouth of the San Juan, but how far it extends before yielding to
_morcomi_ has not been determined. Data available are not sufficient to
determine its nesting or migration dates or the length of its stay in

Swarth (1914) calls it "a common summer visitant in southern and western
Arizona, apparently confined almost entirely to the Lower Sonoran river
valleys, the Colorado and the Gila, with their tributaries. * * * I know
of no breeding record of a yellow warbler from any point in Arizona
north of the Mogollon Divide." Mrs. Bailey (1928) says that "the lower
Rio Grande in New Mexico apparently marks the most northern extension of
the range of the Sonora Yellow Warbler. It is a common breeder at
Mesilla," which is in the southwestern part of the State.

We found the Sonora yellow warbler breeding commonly in the San Pedro
Valley, near Fairbank, Ariz., and found several nests in a row of
willows along an irrigation ditch. The nests, from 12 to 15 feet above
the ground in slender trees, were not very different from those of the
eastern bird, being made mainly of willow cotton interwoven with fine
strips of inner bark, fine grasses, and plant fibers.

The eggs do not differ greatly from those of the species elsewhere,
though what few I have seen are more faintly and finely speckled. The
measurements of 40 eggs average 16.9 by 12.8 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =18.4= by 13.1, 17.0 by =13.6=, =14.9=
by 12.5, and 17.8 by =11.4= millimeters (Harris).




The Cuban yellow warbler was originally described by Baird (1864) as a
full species but is now regarded as a subspecies of _Dendroica
petechia_. Ridgway (1902) describes it as "similar to _D. p. petechia_,
but duller in color; adult male with upper parts much darker
olive-green, the pileum usually concolor with the back, sometimes
slightly more yellowish, very rarely tinged with orange-ochraceous, and
wing-edgings less purely yellow; adult female usually duller in color
than in _D. p. petechia_, often grayish olive-green, or even largely
gray, above, and dull whitish, merely tinged here and there with yellow,

Until recently, its range has been supposed to include only Cuba and
Isle of Pines. Dr. Barbour (1923) says of its habits: "The Mangrove
Canary, as the Cuban Yellow Warbler is called, is abundant wherever
there are heavy high mangroves about the coast. I have found it abundant
in eastern and western Cuba, and on the Isle of Pines as well. Gundlach
reports it nesting in March. I incline to believe that May is more
usual; and then the nest of grass, small feathers and woolly down, is
placed in a fork on some horizontal mangrove limb. The whole life of the
species is passed in the mangrove forests."

Referring to the Isle of Pines, W. E. C. Todd (1916) writes: "This is a
bird of the mangroves, to which it is apparently exclusively confined.
It is accordingly most numerous along the coast and about the islands of
Siguanea Bay, where the mangroves are so constant and pronounced a
feature. Mr. Read has observed it along the Pine River also, but it is
apparently a rare bird in the northern part of the island, judging from
the dearth of records, and, indeed, it cannot be called a common bird in
any locality as yet visited. Two nests were found, both in mangroves
within a few feet of the water, during the third week in April, but as
yet without eggs."

More recently, this warbler has been found breeding on some of the lower
Florida Keys. Earle R. Greene (1942) writes:

While exploring one of the Bay Keys in the Great White Heron National
Wildlife Refuge off Key West, Florida, on June 15, 1941, with Roger Tory
Peterson of the National Audubon Society, a male warbler, in full song,
was located. * * * On June 26, the writer located it again on the same
key, and on the 28th the male, female and nest were found. The last was
in the top part of a red-mangrove tree (_Rhizophora mangle_) and was
composed of seaweed and feathers; it contained one egg, white with
brownish markings chiefly about the larger end. On July 10, the egg was
found broken, apparently jabbed, possibly by a Red-wing nesting nearby.
On July 16, the male bird was collected, and on the 30th the female.

Later (1944) he says: "Since then, a male and female were seen on June
16, 1942, on these same keys, and on July 14, 1942, an adult female was
noted on the same keys. On August 6, 1942, a male and female, as well as
an immature bird, being fed by an adult, were found on Big Mullet Key in
the Key West Refuge, which is several miles from the Bay Keys. A letter
received from Mrs. Frances Hames states that she found one bird, in
song, on one of the Bay Keys on May 30, 1943. I consider it, therefore,
a regular nester on certain keys in that area. Additional investigations
may determine it as a common breeder."




Along both coasts of Baja California southward from about latitude 27°
N., and along the Pacific coast of Mexico from Sinaloa to Guatemala,
where that curious tree, the red mangrove (_Rhizophora mangle_), bathes
its feet in salt water along the shores of bays, estuaries, and tidal
creeks, this handsome yellow warbler makes its permanent home. The red
mangrove extends its growth on these muddy shores by sending its curving
branches outward and downward to take root again in the mud, thus
forming an almost impenetrable tangle of roots and branches in an
ever-widening band extending outward from the dry land. Its dense, dark
foliage forms a low, gloomy forest of branches in which this well-named
warbler finds a secure retreat and to which it is almost exclusively
confined. It has not always been easy to obtain in these tangles, for
Brewster (1902) says that--

during January, February, and a part of March, 1887, Mr. Frazer
repeatedly visited all the mangrove thickets that he could find near La
Paz, and made every effort to secure a good series of these Warblers,
but he took only eight in all and did not shoot more than a pair in any
one day. He notes the bird as "rare," but adds that "its numbers
Increased slightly in March." It cannot be very numerous here at any
time, for the total area covered by its favorite mangroves is very
limited. Indeed, the place where most of his specimens were obtained
"comprises only about two acres, through which winds a small creek,
fordable at low tide; but at high water everything is submerged up to
the lower branches of the mangroves. I always found the birds working
near the surface of the water on the stems of the mangroves or hopping
about on the mud, but the males resorted to the tops of the bushes to
sing. Their notes are similar in general character to those of the
Yellow Warbler."

W. W. Brown was evidently more successful a little later in the season,
for, in that same locality in May and June, he collected a large series
of these beautiful birds for several American collections, mainly Col.
John E. Thayer's. He wrote to Colonel Thayer (1909):

I found the Mangrove Warbler a rare bird, but my previous experience
with this species in Panamá, the Pearl Islands, and in Yucatan is what
made me successful. I learned its song and alarm note in 1893. The first
morning I went into the mangrove swamps of La Paz I whistled the song of
the Yucatan species and the birds answered me; this is the secret of my
success, for the species is very secretive in its habits. I found it so
difficult to get that I offered fifty cents apiece to the duck hunters
and others, including the local taxidermist, but they all failed to get
it! By covering eight miles of territory I generally managed to get four
or five. Sometimes when I shot one It would fall in the mangroves, with
a tide running fast. Under such conditions it generally took a long time
to find it, and a great deal of cutting with the machete.

Referring to the form found in El Salvador, Dickey and van Rossem (1938)
remark: "To add to the difficulties in the path of the collector, the
brown and yellow plumage of the males blends perfectly with the dead or
dying mangrove leaves which are kept in continual motion by the sea

_Nesting._--Brown sent Colonel Thayer (1909) three nests of the mangrove
warbler, only one of which contained a set of three eggs. Of this he
says: "The nest with eggs is made (and the others resemble it very much)
of light green fern down, cobwebs, and light-colored dried grasses, with
a few white feathers plastered on the outside. It is beautifully lined
with feathers. It is not so perfectly shaped or so well made as the
Yellow Warbler's nest."

There are now six beautiful nests of this warbler in the Thayer
collection in Cambridge, all collected by Brown near La Paz on dates
ranging from May 15 to June 2; all were placed in the red mangroves,
either on horizontal branches, mostly near the ends, or in forks; the
heights from the ground or water varied from 2 feet to 10 feet. The
largest and handsomest nest was 10 feet up on a horizontal branch; it is
a very neat, compactly woven cup, made of soft, fine, light buff plant
fibers, mixed with plant down, green moss that looks like down (probably
the "light green fern down" referred to above or _algae_), a few gray
lichens and many whitish flower clusters; it is lined with very fine
fibers, apparently from the mangroves, and plenty of feathers; it
measures externally 3 inches in diameter and 2-1/2 inches in height; the
inner diameter at the top of the in-curved rim is 1-3/4 inches and the
cup is near 2 inches deep. The smallest nest measures only 2-1/4 inches
in outside diameter. The shallowest nest is only 1-1/2 inches high and
1-1/4 deep inside.

These nests are all works of art and quite distinctive; all the
materials are smoothly and compactly felted, being tightly plastered
together, as if glued on when wet. The light color and compactness
suggest certain hummingbirds' nests. Most of the nests seem small for
the size of the birds.

_Eggs._--Three eggs seems to form the usual set for the mangrove
warbler; in the Thayer series there are five sets of three and one set
of two. Ed. N. Harrison (MS.) says that "it seems that one egg is a set
as often as two." Most of the eggs in this series are ovate, but some
are short ovate; they have only a very slight gloss. They are white or
creamy white, speckled, spotted or blotched with shades of "mummy
brown," "bone brown," "Prout's brown," or "clove brown," with undertones
of "light mouse gray," "deep mouse gray," "Quaker drab," or "drab-gray."
The browns are frequently so dark as to appear almost black, but some
eggs are spotted with lighter shades, such as "cinnamon brown" and
"snuff brown." On the more lightly marked types the most prominent
markings are the grays, with only a few scattered brown spots. Often a
loose wreath is formed around the large end, where the spots are usually

The measurements of 32 eggs average 17.9 by 13.4 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =19.5= by 13.2, 17.9 by =14.6=, =17.0=
by 13.2, and 18.3 by =12.9= millimeters (Harris).

_Plumages._--Although I have examined a large series of mangrove
warblers, I have seen no downy young and no summer birds in juvenal
plumage. But Dr. Chapman (1907) describes the young female as "above
grayish olive-green, rump brighter; tail blackish, externally greenish,
webs of all but central narrowly margined with yellow; wings and their
coverts blackish, quills margined, coverts tipped with dull greenish;
below whitish more or less washed or obscurely streaked with yellow, the
under tail-coverts pale yellow."

Young males in the fall are much like adult females, but brighter in
color and often with traces of chestnut on the head. Apparently young
males wear this femalelike plumage all winter; young males in March show
a variable amount of chestnut on the head and throat, and show further
progress toward maturity during April, May, and June, indicating a first
prenuptial molt. A specimen described by Brewster (1902) is apparently
undergoing this molt. "It has the head dull chestnut, very pale and
mixed with whitish on the throat, mottled with greenish on the crown;
the jugulum, sides of the neck and the middle of the breast _white_ with
occasional small patches or single feathers of a pale yellow color and
numerous fine, chestnut-rufous streaks on the breast; the remainder of
the under parts pale primrose yellow mixed with whitish. The back,
wings, and tail are nearly as in the adult female. The upper mandible is
of the usual dusky horn color, but the basal half of the lower mandible
of a pale flesh color. The plumage, generally, has a worn and faded

This would seem to indicate that the first prenuptial molt is quite
extensive, and that young birds become nearly adult after their molt.
Adults probably have a complete postnuptial molt sometimes during the
summer, but the following descriptions indicate that the prenuptial molt
of adults is less extensive. Ridgway (1885) describes the type male,
taken December 16, 1882, as follows: "Head rich chestnut, lighter or
more rufous on the throat. Upper parts olive-green, the wings dusky,
with broad greenish yellow edgings; outer webs of rectrices dusky, edged
with yellowish olive-green, the inner webs chiefly primrose-yellow.
Lower parts bright gamboge-yellow, the jugulum and breast with a few
very indistinct and mostly concealed streaks of chestnut-rufous." And of
an adult female, taken December 29, 1882, he says: "Above grayish
olive-green; wings grayish dusky, the feathers edged with olive-grayish;
rectrices dusky, outer webs edged with olive-green, the inner with
primrose yellow. Lower parts dull pale olive-yellowish."

From Dr. Chapman's (1907) descriptions of spring adults it appears that
there is very little seasonal change. Male: "Head all around and throat
reddish chestnut; back yellow olive-green, the rump brighter; inner webs
of all but central tail feathers largely yellow; wings black margined
with yellow; underparts, except throat, rich yellow faintly streaked
with reddish brown." Female: "Above olive green, much darker and greener
than [M]; tail black the two outer feathers with large yellow patches on
the inner web near the tip; wings black margined with greenish yellow;
below uniform pale, dull yellow."

Laurence M. Huey (1927), referring to the bird life of San Ignacio and
Pond Lagoons, on the west coast of Baja California, states that mangrove
warblers were found there--

in isolated pairs and gave evidence of early nesting by their singing
and by the condition of the sex organs of the specimens collected. This
warbler was one of the most interesting species observed. The song of
the male was usually delivered from a hidden position amid the dense
mangroves, though occasionally the bird was seen perched on a dry twig
projecting above the level tops of the thicket. The song was pleasing in
tone, and of good volume, suggesting that of the Yellow Warbler, but
less shrill. Unlike the song of the Yellow Warbler, it was given with a
steady rising inflection. The alarm note is a sharp chirp, audible at
some distance even during a brisk wind. This note is uttered at
intervals and always in the same tone, much as are the chipping notes of
the Orange-crowned Warblers. In searching for food, Mangrove Warblers
resemble others of the genus _Dendroica_ in their habit of searching
each leaf and stem with most careful scrutiny. At times, however, they
were seen to launch forth into the air, in true "flycatcher" fashion,
after small insects. These aerial sallies were seldom for a distance of
over 10 feet, and the bird nearly always returned to the same perch from
which it started.

_Enemies._--The following remarks by Dickey and van Rossem (1938) about
the El Salvador race of this species are of interest:

As the entire lives of these birds are spent in an environment which
renders them immune from attack by the great majority of the predators
which harass species inhabiting the land forest, one is at first
inclined to be surprised at their relative scarcity. Raccoons
(_Procyon_) are extremely common in the mangroves and were often found
prowling through the branches at night. They, as well as carnivorous
iguanas, undoubtedly take toll of many nests, but aside from these two
it is difficult to conjecture what natural enemy operates to limit the
mangrove warbler population. Certainly no "saturation point" has been
reached, for pairs may be separated by as much as a mile even in the
areas which appear most favorable.



PLATES 26-28


Wilson secured only two specimens of this pretty warbler, one of which
was shot among some magnolia trees near Fort Adams, Miss. He gave it the
scientific name _Sylvia magnolia_ but called it the black and yellow
warbler. This stood for many years as the common name. Nuttall, who had
seen it only occasionally in Massachusetts, regarded it as rare.
Audubon, on the other hand, found it quite common and even abundant in
several places, as we now know it to be. His lively plate of this
beautiful bird, one of his best, has always been a favorite of mine; and
it seems to me that in the magnolia warbler, more than in any one of the
many beautiful species of American wood warblers, are best combined
daintiness of attire with pleasing combinations and contrasts of often
brilliant colors. Particularly are these qualities apparent when this
warbler is seen amongst the dark green firs and spruces of its summer
home, where its brilliant array of colors are displayed to advantage as
it flits about, sometimes within a few feet of us.

_Spring._--From their winter quarters in Mexico and Central America,
some magnolia warblers migrate straight across the Gulf of Mexico to the
Gulf coast between Louisiana and western Florida; they seem to be
accidental in Cuba and very rare anywhere in Florida. Another migration,
probably of some importance, occurs along the coast of Texas from the
mouth of the Rio Grande to Louisiana; I saw a few magnolia warblers in
the great migration wave noted on an island in Galveston Bay on May 4,
1923. Professor Cooke (1904) remarks: "The dates of arrival of the
magnolia warbler in spring furnish the best evidence yet available in
support of the theory that birds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico do
not always alight as soon as they reach the shore. The species is a
common spring migrant from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic,
between latitudes 37° and 39°. South of this district it becomes less
and less common, except in the mountains, until in the Gulf States it is
rare." It is significant that the earliest date of arrival at Atlanta,
Ga., is the same as at the lower Rio Grande in Texas, April 20.

William Brewster (1877) writes:

The Black-and-Yellow Warbler arrives in Massachusetts from the South
about the 15th of May. During the next two or three weeks they are
abundant everywhere in congenial localities. Willow thickets near
streams, ponds, and other damp places, suit them best, but it is also
not unusual to find many in the upland woods, especially where young
pines or other evergreens grow thickly. Their food at this season is
exclusively insects, the larger part consisting of the numerous species
of _Diptera_. The males sing freely, especially on warm bright mornings.
They associate indifferently with all the migrating warblers, but not
unfrequently I have found large flocks composed entirely of members of
their own species, and in this way have seen at least fifty individuals
collected in one small tract of woodland. By the first of June all
excepting a few stragglers have left.

On its migration as well as on its breeding grounds the magnolia warbler
seems to avoid the taller tree-tops and to prefer the lower levels in
the forests and in the thickets along the borders of woodlands; it is
sometimes seen in garden shrubbery and in orchards, where it adds a
brilliant touch of color to the blossoming fruit trees. When it reaches
its breeding haunts it prefers low hemlock thickets, or more especially,
where these can be found, the dense thickets of small spruces or balsam
firs that spring up thickly in old clearings, or grow profusely along
the more open woodland paths; the density of the forest depths seems to
be avoided in favor of the more open spaces.

In Allegany Park, N. Y., according to Aretas A. Saunders (1938);
"Magnolia warblers seem to have territory and a definite singing
location, but I have seen no animosity toward each other or other
species of warblers, such as the black-throated green and blackburnian,
birds that have very similar habits and live in the same habitat and
sometimes sing regularly in the same tree. * * * Territories are
evidently vertical as well as horizontal, that is measured in volume
rather than area, so that a clump of big hemlocks furnishes space for
several pairs and several species of hemlock-loving warblers."

_Courtship._--William H. Moore (1904) says: "During the mating season
the males are pugnacious little fellows, and many fights do rivals have.
They attack each other with much fierceness, seizing hold with their
beaks, and hitting with half-opened wings they sprawl about on the
ground, until thoroughly overcome. When pressing his suit to the female
of his choice, the male displays his colors to great advantage, as they
show in fine contrast among the bright green foliage of the trees."

_Nesting._--All the 14 or more nests that I have seen, in Maine, New
Brunswick, Quebec, and Newfoundland, have been in small spruces or
balsam firs growing in old clearings, in reclaimed boggy pastures, or
along the edges of coniferous woods. These little trees were often less
than 6 feet high and generally stood in dense thickets. The lowest nest
I find recorded in my notes was only 12 inches above the ground in a
tiny fir, and the highest was 8 feet up in a slender balsam in a thick
clump of these trees in rather open woods; more nests were below 5 feet
than above it. The nests usually rested on horizontal branches or twigs
and against the trunk but in a few cases they were placed a few inches
or a foot out on a branch.

Similar nesting habits seem to be characteristic of the magnolia warbler
in other parts of northern New England, Nova Scotia, and southern Canada
according to information received from others; and most of the nests
have been placed at similar low levels, though Mr. Brewster (1938) found
one near Lake Umbagog that was 25 feet from the ground. In this
northeastern region an occasional nest has been found in a cedar, a
larch, or a small hemlock, but at a height usually less than 5 feet.

In New York and Pennsylvania hemlock seems to be the favorite tree, and
the magnolia warbler more often places its nest at a higher level and
well out toward the end of a horizontal branch, where it is usually
shaded and sometimes well concealed in dense foliage. Verdi Burtch, of
Branchport, N. Y., wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that he found nests "in
hemlocks usually on a horizontal limb from eight to twenty feet up and
over an opening in the woods. Several nests were found in the top of
little hemlock saplings from one to five feet from the ground. One nest
was found by Mr. C. F. Stone in a birch sapling, this being the only
instance to my knowledge of its nesting in a tree other than a hemlock."
He has sent me a photograph of a nest in a wild blackberry bush.

T. E. McMullen has given me the data for 14 nests of the magnolia
warbler found in the Pocono Mountains, Pa.; 10 of these were located in
hemlocks from 30 inches to 30 feet above the ground and from 6 to 12
feet out on the branches; one nest was 30 feet up and one 18, but the
others were all less than 10 from the ground. The other 4 nests were in
rhododendrons, in woods, or along the banks of creeks, and were from 2
to 3 feet up.

Edward A. Preble (Todd, 1940) says that "all but one of more than fifty
nests of this warbler that R. B. Simpson has examined near Warren [Pa.]
were placed in hemlocks. One nest was at the exceptional height of
thirty-five feet; another was only a foot from the ground in some low
hemlock brush." Mr. Simpson's other nest was in a witch-hazel, and Mr.
Saunders reported one in a pin cherry, both under hemlocks.

The magnolia warbler is a poor nest builder; its nests are apparently
carelessly built and are very flimsy affairs, much like poorly built
nests of the chipping sparrow; and they are usually insecurely attached
to their supports. Brewster (1877) gives the following good description
of a typical nest: "The framework is wrought somewhat loosely of fine
twigs, those of the hemlock being apparently preferred. Next comes a
layer of coarse grass or dry weed-stalks; while the interior is lined
invariably with fine black roots, which closely resemble horse-hairs. In
an examination of more than thirty examples I have found not one in
which these black roots were not used. One specimen has, indeed, a few
_real_ horse-hairs in the lining, but the roots predominate. This
uniform coal-black lining shows in strong contrast with the lighter
aspect of the outer surface of the nest."

Miss Cordelia J. Stanwood, of Ellsworth, Maine, who has sent me some
elaborate notes on the magnolia warbler, gives me this description of
one of her best nests: "In this some hay and the fine tips of cinquefoil
served as a foundation, but the greater part of the nest consisted of a
fine black, vegetable fibre, resembling horsehair. So much of this
hair-like material was used that, when the rim was frescoed with down
from the willow pod, a person looking at the dainty abode in its setting
of fir twigs could see nothing but the jet-black lining and the fluffy,
silvery plant-down around the throat of the nest. The structure was
partly pensile, being bound with spiders' silk to the two branches at
right angles to the main stem.

"The front part of the base rested on the branches beneath. It was
placed in a small fir, 2 feet from the ground, surrounded by a growth
of fir and gray birches. * * * The nests were about 2 inches wide at the
top on the inside and 1-1/4 deep. The wall at the top was 3/4 inch

A series of eight nests now before me vary considerably in size,
compactness, manner of construction, and in the materials used. The
largest two measure 4 inches and 3-3/4 inches, respectively, in outside
diameter, and the smallest ones measure from 2-3/4 to 3 inches. The
inner diameter seems to be more constant, varying from 1-3/4 to 2
inches. All of my nests are shallow, hardly more than an inch deep
internally in most cases. Some of them are fairly well made, but most of
them are very flimsy and more or less transparent. The neatest nests
have the sides and rims well built up with dry grass or weed stems of
varying degrees of fineness and density. In some there is no grass, but
the sides are well made of the very finest hemlock or larch twigs
interwoven with fine, red, fruiting stems of mosses and many fine, black
rootlets; they are often slightly decorated or camouflaged with a few
weed blossoms or bits of wool or plant down. The lining of black
rootlets is present in these and in all other nests of the magnolia
warbler that I have seen; it seems to be characteristic of the species
and will distinguish the nests from those of other warblers. This
jet-black lining forms a fine background against which the handsome eggs
are shown in striking contrast.

Miss Stanwood gives in her notes the following account of nest building:
"The birds fly with much jolly chattering through the trees and examine
any nesting sites that appear desirable. The dainty female, after
fitting her little body into many spaces among the twigs, finds one that
is entirely adapted to her prospective domicile, and the birds proceed
to fashion a basketlike frame of long, fine potentilla or cinquefoil
runners, or culms of fine hay. These they fasten to the twigs and
needles around the selected space with spiders' web, or tent caterpillar
silk, leaving the long ends free. Around the top of the basketlike frame
on the interior is laid a culm of hay in the form of an imperfect
circle, which is secured to the frame with spiders' silk; many of the
long ends are then turned down within, or crumpled into the space for
the foundation of the superstructure. In the frame is fashioned the
cradle, which is symmetrical and cup-shaped on the inside, but may be
formed like the bowl of a spoon on the outside, according to the space
which it is designed to fill. The preferred lining materials appear to
be a jet-black, hair-like vegetable fibre, and horsehair, but on
occasion, the dull orange setae of the birdwheat moss, or the brown
fruit stems of maples are used for this purpose.

"Both twittering birds bring the materials while it is damp, if
possible, and place it, but being very timid, they work little while an
observer is near. At such times the birds come silently, one at a time,
deposit the bit of cinquefoil or hair-like fibre hurriedly, the female
who is oftentimes less timid than the male, doing most of the modelling,
turning around and around in the tiny dwelling and shaping it with her
breast. Two birds that I timed carefully spent 4 days building their
habitation, and another pair 6 days in doing the same work. The amount
of time occupied by the task is determined by the abundance or scarcity
of materials and the weather; continuous, heavy, cold and retard the
work greatly."

_Eggs._--Four eggs almost always form a full set for the magnolia
warbler, but sometimes there are only three and occasionally five. They
vary in shape from ovate to short ovate, or rarely to elongate ovate,
and are only slightly glossy. The ground color is white or creamy white
and in some instances greenish white. Their markings vary considerably,
some being very lightly speckled, while others are boldly spotted,
blotched or clouded with "buffy brown," "cinnamon-brown," "Mars brown,"
"Prout's brown," "mummy brown," "Brussels brown," "chestnut," "auburn,"
or "tawny-olive," with occasional scrawls of "bay" or black, and with
undertones of "vinaceous-drab," "deep brownish drab," or "Quaker drab."
There is a tendency for the markings to be concentrated at the large
end, where they often form a wreath, or sometimes a solid cap. Many
interesting effects are found on the boldly marked eggs, where the large
brown blotches are superimposed on the drab undertones. The measurements
of 50 eggs average 16.3 by 12.3 millimeters; the eggs showing the four
extremes measure =17.9= by =13.2=, =15.0= by 12.0, and 15.8 by =11.6=
millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation for the magnolia warbler is said, by
different observers, to be 11, 12, or 13 days, and it is evidently
performed by the female only. Miss Stanwood tells me that incubation
sometimes begins after the second egg is laid. One egg is laid each day
until the set is complete. The young remain in the nest from 8 to 10
days, usually the latter. The eyes of the young are opening on the third
or fourth day. On the sixth day, the feathers are breaking the sheaths,
and by the eighth or ninth day the young are well feathered. The female
does all the brooding of the young, of which Miss Stanwood writes in her

"At first the mother bird covered the young much of the time, as the
infant birds were fragile and the weather was cold and damp. Every few
minutes the brooding bird moved back on the nest far enough to feed the
nestlings regurgitated or digested food, and to cleanse the nest of
biting pests such as ants, which might endanger the lives of the baby
birds. The father bird sang gaily, far away and near at hand, throughout
the long summer day. When he came to the nest with food, he flirted his
tail, fluttered his wings, quivered all over and twittered very prettily
to his mate, who responded in like manner.

"He presented his first tender moths and juicy caterpillars to the
mother bird, who ate part of them, but the remainder she crushed and
mixed with digestive juices in her mouth and placed well down the
throats of the baby birds.

"The little ones were not many hours old before the male insisted on
presenting to them a few tidbits himself; and in a few days the parents
fed the young almost exclusively on fresh insect food, which grew larger
and tougher as the days went by."

She mentions two attempts of the parent birds to draw her away from
their young: "Once I accidentally flushed a brooding magnolia. The bird
disappeared into the underbrush, but soon attracted my attention to
herself by calling from the top of a second-growth fir, a few yards from
where her precious secret was concealed. Then she fell from branch to
branch, striking the boughs with a thud, like a dead weight, and dragged
an apparently helpless leg or wing over the ground, but always away from
where her treasures were hidden. On another occasion, when I visited a
family of magnolias that were quite ready to fly, the little ones
spilled over the side of the cradle into the surrounding grasses and
ferns. Both parent birds, with spread wings and tail, tumbled from all
the seedlings in the vicinity and trailed around in widening circles,
calling piteously. At last the male bird poised himself in air on
fluttering wings between me and a callow youngster, but the moment I
lessened the distance between us he vanished."

Henry Mousley (1924) recorded his observations on two nests of magnolia
warblers, and found that during a period of 15 hours, at one nest
containing very young birds, the male fed the young 34 times and the
female 58 times; the average rate of feeding was once in 9.8 minutes;
the female did all the brooding for a total of 6 hours and 19 minutes;
the faeces were eaten 9 times and carried away 17 times, about equally
by each sex.

Margaret Morse Nice (1926) made a very elaborate study of the happenings
at another nest; her account, containing many interesting observations,
to which the reader is referred, is too detailed to be quoted here. Her
table shows that she watched the nest for a total of 26-1/2 hours,
spread over a period of 9 days; during this time, the young were fed by
the male 118 times and by the female 91 times; the average rate of
feeding was once in 7.8 minutes; the female brooded 33 times for a total
of 352 minutes; the faeces were eaten 8 times and carried away 38 times.

Aretas A. Saunders (1938) writes: "After the young have left the nest,
they are much in evidence in the forests. As soon as this happens,
whatever territory there was is abandoned. The young wander away,
keeping together, and the parents care for them, feeding them
frequently for the first few days. Both sexes feed the young, but after
a day or two only the male is likely to be in attendance. Young in this
stage are easily located by the incessant hunger calls. These calls
consist of three or four high-pitched notes, _tsee tsee tu_--_tsee tsee
tsee tu_--_tsee tsee_, etc. I cannot distinguish the call made by young
of this species from those made under similar circumstances by the young
of the black-throated green and blackburnian warblers."

I have also received from Mrs. Doris Huestis Speirs and from Mrs. Louise
de Kiriline Lawrence very full reports on their observations at two
nests of magnolia warblers in Ontario. Many of their observations were
similar to those mentioned; however, the following should be noted here:
Mrs. Lawrence found the incubation period to be about 11 days,
incubation and brooding being by the female only. The young were fed by
both parents by regurgitation for the first 3 days, and after that on
solid food, mostly caterpillars; in 49 minutes, the male fed them 7
times and the female 5 times. During 5-1/2 hours, the male ate or
carried away the fecal sacks 15 times. The young left the nest on the
ninth day after hatching, and were fed by their parents up to the
twenty-fifth day after leaving the nest; after that they were seen
feeding themselves. Mrs. Speirs kept an accurate record of the brooding
periods, which were from 8 to 45 minutes in length, but seldom less than
20 minutes, the female leaving the nest for periods of from 3 to 15
minutes. At times she closed her eyes and seemed to doze; occasionally
she rose and turned the eggs with her feet or bill. The presence of
birds of other species approaching or flying over did not seem to
disturb her but the movements of a red squirrel in the vicinity kept her
alert. The story of this nest ended in tragedy; some predator destroyed
all but one of the young, the female finally disappeared and eventually
there was nothing in the nest but an unhatched egg. A sharp-shinned hawk
had been seen flying over.

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down "sepia-brown," and
describes the juvenal plumage as "above, dark sepia-brown, soon fading,
usually paler on the crown and obscurely streaked with clove-brown.
Wings and tail dull black, chiefly edged with ashy or plumbeous gray,
the secondaries, tertiaries and wing coverts with drab, two wing bands
pale buff; the rectrices white on inner web of basal half. Below, pale
sulphur-yellow, dusky or grayish on the throat, and streaked or mottled
except on the abdomen and crissum with deep olive-brown. Lores and
orbital region ashy brown."

The amount of yellow on the under parts is quite variable, the youngest
nestlings showing very little or none at all. The sexes are practically
alike in the juvenal plumage, but become recognizable during the first

The postjuvenal molt begins early in July and involves all the contour
plumage and the wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings or the tail.

This produces the first winter plumages, in which the young of each sex
closely resemble their respective adult counterparts at that season but
the colors are all duller, the crown and back are browner, there is a
dusky band on the upper breast, and the black streaking is paler or

Dr. Dwight (1900) says: "First nuptial plumage acquired by a partial
prenuptial moult which involves most of the body plumage, the wing
coverts and sometimes a few tertiaries, but not the rest of the wings
nor the tail. Young and old become practically indistinguishable except
by the wings and tail, especially the primary coverts, all of which are
usually browner and more worn than in adults." According to Dickey and
van Rossem (1938) this takes place in El Salvador early in April and is
completed very rapidly.

Subsequent molts of adults consist of a complete postnuptial molt in
July and August and an extensive prenuptial molt in April, as described
above. Dr. Chapman (1907) says that the adult male in the fall is quite
unlike the spring male; "crown and nape brownish gray; eye-ring whitish
[instead of white spot below and a white line behind the eye]; * * *
rump yellow; tail as in Spring; wing-coverts _tipped_ [instead of
broadly marked and forming a conspicuous white patch] with white forming
two white bars; below yellow, sides with partly concealed black streaks,
upper breast with a faint dusky band." The fall female differs in a
similar way from the spring female, having a browner crown and the dusky
band on the upper breast well developed, much as in the young male in
the fall. The female is always much duller than the male in all

_Food._--Ora W. Knight (1908) writes: "The food consists largely of
beetles, grubs, flies, worms and similar insects. I have seen the birds
prying frequently into the deformities on spruce and fir produced by a
species of licelike insects (_Adelges_), and feel very sure that they do
good work in destroying these pests, which are becoming very numerous in
some sections of the State [Maine] and injuring the spruce and fir

W. L. McAtee (1926) praises its good looks as well as its usefulness by
saying: "The beautiful Black and Yellow Warbler is a common summer
resident of the higher parts of the Catskill and Adirondack regions, and
breeds sparingly in local cool spots elsewhere in the State [New York].
* * * So far as known its food in our region consists entirely of
insects and associated creatures, as spiders and daddy-long-legs. Almost
all of its known items of insect food are sorts injurious to woodlands.
It takes weevils, leaf beetles, and click beetles, leaf hoppers, plant
lice, and scale insects, sawfly larvae and ants, and caterpillars and
moths. Surely a record of good deeds to match the excellence of
appearance of this feathered gem."

F. H. King (1883) reports from Wisconsin: "Of seventeen specimens
examined, three had eaten four hymenoptera, among which were two ants;
one, one moth; six, seventeen caterpillars; six, fifteen diptera; six,
twelve beetles; and one, two larvae. Two tipulids were represented among
the diptera." Professor Aughey (1878) counted as many as 23 locusts,
probably in nymphal stages, in the stomach of a magnolia warbler
collected in Nebraska. And F. L. Burns (1915a) included this species
with the Cape May warbler as feeding on cultivated grapes.

_Behavior._--The magnolia warbler is not only one of the most
beautiful--to my mind, the most beautiful--of wood warblers, it is one
of the most attractive to watch. It frequents, especially on its
breeding grounds, the lower levels in its forest haunts, where it can
easily be seen. It is most active and sprightly in its movements as it
flits about in the small trees or bushes, with its wings drooping and
its tail spread almost constantly, showing the conspicuous black and
white markings in pleasing contrast with the brilliant yellow breast,
the gray crown, and the black back; it seems to be conscious of its
beauty and anxious to display it. Its rich and vivacious song, almost
incessantly uttered during the early part of the nesting season,
attracts attention and shows the nervous energy of the active little
bird. It is not particularly shy and is quite apt to show itself at
frequent intervals, as if from curiosity. The female sits closely on her
nest until almost touched, and then slips quickly off to the ground and
disappears. But both of the parents are devoted to their young and quite
bold in their defense, as mentioned above by Miss Stanwood. At the nest
that Mrs. Nice (1926) was watching the warblers paid no attention to a
red squirrel that several times came within 15 feet of the nest. "In
general the relations of these warblers with other birds was not
unfriendly; no attention was paid to passing Chickadees nor to Chewinks
and Maryland Yellow-throats that nested near. The only birds towards
whom the male showed animosity were a male Myrtle Warbler that he drove
away both during incubation and while the young were in the nest, and
the male of his own species who came to call July 2. On July 8 the
female warbler gave short shrift to an inquisitive female Black-throated
Green Warbler that seemed to wish to inspect the household."

The intimate studies made by Mrs. Nice and Henry Mousley indicate that
these warblers will tolerate a reasonable amount of human intimacy
without showing too much timidity.

_Voice._--My earliest impression of the song of the magnolia warbler was
written in 1891 as _wee-chew, wee-chew_ in full, rich notes. Later I
attempted to syllabilize it quite differently; once I wrote it _switter,
switter, swirr_, or _swicher, swich, a-swirr_. On another occasion it
sounded like _wheet, tit, chéw_, or _wheet, wheet, tit, chéw_.

Mrs. Nice (1926) noted only two songs, "the day song and perch song
_weechy weech_ and the feeding and vesper song _sing sweet_ with its
variation _sing sing sweet_. He used three different notes: _tit_ the
alarm note, _kree_ the love note, and _eep_, the significance of which I
never fathomed."

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907):

The Magnolia belongs among the full-voiced Warblers, and is a versatile
singer, having at least two main songs, both subject to much and notable
variation. The typical form of the commoner song is peculiar and easily
remembered: _Weeto wecto weétee-eet_,--or _Witchi, witchi, witchi
tit_,--the first four notes deliberate and even and comparatively low in
tone, the last three hurried and higher pitched, with decided emphasis
on the antepenult _weet_ or _witch_. The other song has the same general
character, and begins with nearly the same notes, but instead of ending
with the sprightly, high-pitched _wéetee-eet'_, it falls off in a single
perfunctory-sounding though emphatic note, of _lower_ tone than the
rest. In syllables it is like _Witti witti wét'_,--_weetee weetee

He proceeds to mention some variations:

One such variant I have fixed in my own recollection by the syllables
_Ter-whiz wee-it_; and another, almost unrecognizable, by the syllables
_Weé-yer weé-yer wee-yer_. Still another beginning like _Weechi wéech_,
ended with a hurried confusion of small notes, some low, some high. But
throughout these and all the many other surprising variations I have
heard about Monadnock, the characteristic tone-quality was preserved
unchanged, and so were certain minor tricks, scarcely describable, of
emphasis and phrasing. The tone is much like the Yellow Warbler's and
also the Chestnut-side's, though distinctly different from either. In
loudness it averages lower than the Yellow's and about equal to the

Then he mentions a peculiar call note, _tlep, tlep_, a lisping note with
a slight metallic ring, that reminded him of the siskin or of Henslow's

The following remarkable list of seven distinct songs recognized by
Stewart Edward White (1893) is included because it represents either
some very unusual variations or very keen observation:

1. Three notes followed by one lower: _che-weech che-weech che-ó_. 2.
Three sharp clear whistles with a strong _r_ sound, then a warble of
three notes, the middle the highest, the latter clear and decisive: _pra
pra pra r-é-oo_. 3. Two quick sharp notes followed by a warble of three
notes, the middle the highest: the warble is soft and slurred: _prút pút
purreao_. 4. A soft falsetto warble, different in tone from any other
bird song: _purra-[)e]-whuy-a_. 5. Of the same falsetto tone uttered
rapidly: _prut-ut-ut-ut-ut_. 5. A harsh note like, in miniature, the cry
of a Jay: _d kay kay kay_. 7. A harsh _k-e-e-e-dl_, the last syllable
higher by a shade, quick, and subordinated to the first part. The alarm
note is a sharp _zeek_.

Mr. Brewster (1877) has written his impression of the song in words as,
"_she knew she was right; yes, she knew she was right_." Elsewhere, he
writes it: "_Pretty, pretty Rachel_." The latter version seems to
suggest the rhythmic swing of the song very well.

Francis H. Allen (MS.) gives me several somewhat similar renderings, and
mentions a migrating bird that sang for a long time early one morning in
the spruces and hemlock near his house: "It was such steady and
unintermittent singing as I have seldom if ever heard from any other
warbler, and the bird alternated very regularly between the first and
second songs--_weetle weetle weetle weet_, then _will´ you wée sip_, or
_will´ you will´ you wée sip_, the latter song not so emphatic as usual
and weaker than the other." This alternation is not uncommon with some
species of warblers, as the redstart, but I have no records of it for
the magnolia. He also mentions a common call note, "a dry 2-syllabled
note, _tizic_, a little suggestive, perhaps, of the song of the
yellow-bellied flycatcher", which he thinks has no counterpart among our
warbler notes.

Aretas A. Saunders has lately sent me a full account of the song of this
warbler, saying, in part: "The song of the magnolia warbler is a short
one, commonly of six or seven notes, of a weak, rather colorless, but
musical quality. My 49 records of this song show that the number of
notes varies from 4 to 9, all but 8 of them being of either 6 or 7
notes. The 6-note songs usually consist of three, 2-note phrases. The
first two are just alike, the 2 notes of each phrase on different
pitches. The third phrase is either higher or lower in pitch, and
frequently with the order of pitch from low to high or from high to low

"The majority of the songs have a range, in pitch, of two or two and a
half tones, nearly always between A´´´ and D´´´´. A few songs range as
much as three and a half tones, and may be as low as F´´´ or up to
E flat´´´´, but the range for the species is only five tones.

"The songs are quite short, ranging from 3/5 second to 1-2/5 seconds.
Individual birds often sing two or three different songs, or vary songs
by dropping or adding notes.

"The song period extends from the arrival of the bird in migration to
late July or early August. The average date of the last song in 14 years
in Allegany Park is August 1. The earliest is July 26, 1933, and the
latest August 15, 1937."

_Enemies._--Dr. Friedmann (1929) mentions only a few cases in which the
magnolia warbler has been imposed upon by the cowbird, but E. H. Eaton
(1914), says that the cowbird "seems to make a specialty of presenting
this Warbler with one or more of its eggs, generally puncturing the eggs
of the Magnolia before leaving the nest." However, it is probable that
this warbler is a rather uncommon victim, perhaps because the cowbird is
not particularly common in the places where the warbler breeds.

Harold S. Peters (1936) lists two lice, _Degeeriella eustigma_ (Kellogg)
and _Myrsidea incerta_ (Kellogg), as external parasites on this warbler.

_Field marks._--The adult magnolia warbler of both sexes is so
conspicuously marked that it should be easily recognized. The gray
crown, black back and cheeks, yellow breast and rump, the two broad
white wing bars and the large amount of white in the tail, midway
between the base and the tip, are all good field marks. The female is
only a little less brilliant than the male. The young bird in juvenal
plumage is quite different, but the position of the white in the tail is

_Fall._--When the young birds are well able to take care of themselves,
they and their parents join the gathering throngs of warblers and other
small birds in preparation for the southward migration. Brewster (1877)

In Eastern Massachusetts this species occurs as a fall migrant from
September 21 to October 30, but it is never seen at this season in
anything like the numbers which pass through the same section in spring,
and the bulk of the migration must follow a more westerly route. Its
haunts while with us in the autumn are somewhat different from those
which it affects during its northward journey. We now find it most
commonly on hillsides, among scrub-oaks and scattered birches, and in
company with such birds as the Yellow-Rump (_Dendroeca coronata_) and
the Black-Poll (_D. striata_). A dull, listless troop they are,
comparatively sombre of plumage, totally devoid of song, and apparently
intent only upon the gratification of their appetites.

Brewster was probably correct in assuming that the main trend of the
fall migration is more westerly. Milton B. Trautman (1940) says of the
fall migration of the magnolia warbler at Buckeye Lake, Ohio: "A
persistent search in mid-August always resulted in recording a few early
transients, and by the last of the month several were seen each day. The
numbers increased gradually through early September. From September 10
to 25 the greatest daily numbers were attained, and 50 to 125 birds a
day were noted. The numbers were slightly higher than they were in
spring. The fall transients frequented the same types of habitat as did
the spring birds, except that more were found in brushy fields or
pastures, especially those dotted or thicketed with hawthorn and wild

Prof. W. W. Cooke (1904) writes:

Over much of the southern part of the United States the magnolia
warbler, though rare in spring, is common in fall. * * * The general
path of migration of the species seems to cross the middle of the Gulf
of Mexico. It is bounded approximately on the east by a line drawn from
the north central part of Georgia to eastern Yucatan, while few
individuals seem to proceed farther west than the coast line from
eastern Texas to southern Vera Cruz. In common with some twenty other
species of birds the magnolia warbler seems to make its flight between
the United States and Yucatan without taking advantage of the peninsula
of Florida or using Cuba as a stopping place. At the southern end of the
Allegheny Mountains it is a common migrant, while it has been noted only
three times in Florida and only once in Cuba.

_Winter._--Dr. Alexander F. Skutch contributes the following from Costa
Rica: "The magnolia warbler is one of the abundant winter visitants of
northern Central America. Although its known winter range extends to
Panamá, it only rarely migrates so far south. I have never seen the bird
either in Panamá or Costa Rica; nor did Carriker have any record of it
when he prepared his list of the birds of the latter country. But in the
Caribbean lowlands of Honduras and Guatemala, it is common and
widespread from October to April, sharing with the yellow warbler the
distinction of being the member of the family most often seen during
this period. While it appears to be present in somewhat smaller numbers
than in the Caribbean region, it is still far from rare on the Pacific
side of Guatemala. Here I found it fairly abundant, during the winter
months, on the great coffee plantations between 2,000 and 4,000 feet
above sea-level. It was not uncommon in the bushy growth about the
shores of Lake Atitlán (4,900 feet), at the end of October; and I even
found a few among the pines and oaks at Huehuetenango, at an altitude of
6,600 feet in the western highlands, on November 12, 1934; but I am not
at all certain whether they remained so high during the cooler months
that followed. In its winter home, this sprightly bird lives singly
rather than in flocks. It frequents open groves, light second-growth
woodland, thickets, and the riverside vegetation, rather than the heavy

"The magnolia warblers arrive in Guatemala and Honduras in their dull
winter dress, at the end of September or in October. By early April, the
males are in full nuptial attire, so bright and gay that their
approaching departure will deprive the region of one of its most
beautiful birds. They linger until the end of April; and I have seen
males as late as females.

"Early dates of fall arrival in Central America are: Guatemala--passim
(Griscom), October 12; Colomba, September 30, 1934; Finca Helvetia,
October 6, 1934. Honduras--Tela, October 6, 1930.

"Late dates of spring departure from Central America are:
Honduras--Tela, April 24, 1930. Guatemala--passim (Griscom), April 15;
Motagua Valley, near Los Amates, April 30, 1932."

Dickey and van Rossem (1938) record it for El Salvador as a--

rare fall migrant, but common winter visitant and spring migrant in the
Arid Lower Tropical Zone. Although found from sea level to 3,500 feet,
the species is much more numerous below 2,000 feet than above that
altitude. Dates of arrival and departure are October 12 and April 24.
* * *

In December perhaps a dozen all told were seen on Mt. Cacaguatique,
always as single birds with small flocks of Tennessee and other
warblers. By January they had become very common, and at Puerto del
Triunfo during the whole of that month and in February at Rio San Miguel
almost every flock of blue honey creepers was accompanied by one or more
magnolia warblers. There was no noticeable decrease in numbers until
after the middle of April, and even on the 24th (the last date on which
the species was noted) they were recorded as common.


_Range._--Central Canada to Panamá.

_Breeding range._--The magnolia warbler breeds =north= to southwestern
Mackenzie (Wrigley, Providence, and Resolution); northeastern Alberta
(Chipewyan); central Saskatchewan (Flotten Lake, Emma Lake, and Hudson
Bay Junction); central Manitoba (Cedar Lake, Norway House, and Oxford
House); northern Ontario (Red Lake, Lac Seul, and Moose Factory);
southern Quebec (Lake Mistassini, Mingan, and Natashquan); and northern
Newfoundland (Northeast Brook, Canada Bay). =East= to eastern
Newfoundland (Northeast Brook, Badger, and Princeton) and Nova Scotia
(Baddeck, Cape Breton Island). =South= to Nova Scotia (Baddeck, Halifax,
and Barrington); southern Maine (Ellsworth, Bath, Portland, and Saco);
southern New Hampshire (Concord and Monadnock); northwestern
Massachusetts (Winchendon and Pelham); northeastern Pennsylvania (Lords
Valley, Delaware Water Gap, and Pottsville); western Maryland
(Cumberland); central western Virginia (Sounding Knob); central eastern
West Virginia (Watoga and Pickens); occasionally western North Carolina
(Asheville); northeastern Ohio (Pymatuning Bog and Conneaut); possibly
northwestern Ohio (Toledo); northern Michigan (Grayling, Wequetansing,
and the Beaver Islands); northern Wisconsin (Kelley Brook, Ashland, and
Superior); northern Minnesota (McGregor, Leech Lake, and White Earth);
southern Manitoba (Winnepeg and Brandon); southern Saskatchewan (Indian
Head, Wood Mountain, and Maple Creek); central Alberta (Stony Plain,
Lesser Slave Lake, and Winagami); and central British Columbia (Field,
Quesnel, Mukko Lake, and Hazelton). =West= to western and northern
British Columbia (Hazelton and Liard Crossing); and southwestern
Mackenzie (Nahanni Mountains and Wrigley). Accidental or casual north to
Fort Franklin.

_Winter range._--The magnolia warbler is found in winter =north= to
northern Puebla (Metlatoyuca); Veracruz (Tlacotalpan); and Quintana Roo
(Puerto Morelos and Cozumel Island). =East= to Cozumel Island; British
Honduras (Orange Walk and Belize); Honduras (Tela and Ceiba); Nicaragua
(Río Escondido); and Panamá (Canal Zone). =South= to Panamá (Canal Zone
and Almirante). =West= to western Panamá (Almirante); Costa Rica
(Guayabo); El Salvador (Puerto del Triunfo); Guatemala (San Lucas);
Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); western Veracruz (Motzorongo); and northern
Puebla (Metlatoyuca). Occasional or accidental in winter (possibly from
delayed migration), in southern Sonora (Alamos); Texas (Brownsville,
Dallas, and Huntsville); Mississippi (Edwards and Gulfport); Alabama
(Tupelo); and Florida (New Smyrna). It has also occurred rarely in
migration in the West Indies; Cuba (Habana); Dominican Republic (Puerto
Plata); and Puerto Rico (Mayagüez).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Nicaragua--Edén, March 29. El Salvador--Chilata, April 24.
Guatemala--Chuntuqui, April 25. Honduras--Tela, April 24.
Veracruz--Minatitlán, April 27. Puerto Rico--San Germán, April 20.
Cuba--Santiago de las Vegas, May 4.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Palm Beach, March 3.
Alabama--Long Island, April 10. Georgia--Savannah, April 13.
South Carolina--Summerton, April 17. North Carolina--Waynesville,
April 14. Virginia--Lynchburg, April 18. West Virginia--White
Sulphur Springs, April 25. District of Columbia--Washington, April 22.
Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh, April 22. New York--Canandaigua, April 23.
Massachusetts--Amherst, April 29. Vermont--St. Johnsbury, April 29.
Maine--Dover-Foxcroft, May 5. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 2. Nova
Scotia--Wolfville, May 6. Quebec--Quebec, May 4. Prince Edward
Island--Mount Herbert, May 4. Louisiana--Avery Island, April 6.
Mississippi--Edwards, April 17. Arkansas--Helena, April 20.
Tennessee--Knoxville, April 17. Kentucky--Bowling Green, April 23.
Illinois--Le Roy, April 19. Ohio--Oberlin, April 19. Michigan--Grand
Rapids, April 26. Ontario--London, April 30. Missouri--Marionville,
April 20. Iowa--Iowa City, April 27. Wisconsin--Milwaukee, April 26.
Minnesota--Crystal Bay, April 29. Texas--Brownsville, April 3.
Nebraska--Lincoln, April 29. South Dakota--Yankton, May 2.
North Dakota--Argusville, May 11. Manitoba--Aweme, May 11.
Saskatchewan--Wiseton, May 5. Colorado--Derby, May 3. Alberta--Glenevis,
May 22. Mackenzie--Simpson, May 23.

Late dates of spring departure of transients are: Florida--Dry Tortugas
Island, May 22. Alabama--Leighton, May 10. Georgia--Margret, May 25.
South Carolina--Spartanburg, May 18. North Carolina--Raleigh, May 18.
Virginia--Naruna, May 25. District of Columbia--Washington, June 4.
Louisiana--Cameron Farm, May 15. Mississippi--Deer Island, May 21.
Arkansas--Winslow, May 22. Tennessee--Nashville, May 22.
Kentucky--Danville, May 27. Illinois--Chicago, June 8. Ohio--Youngstown,
June 3. Missouri--St. Louis, June 3. Iowa--Mount Vernon, June 2.
Texas--Waco, May 23. Oklahoma--Arnett, May 28. Kansas--Stockton, May 21.
Nebraska--Stapleton, May 23. South Dakota--Yankton, June 6. North
Dakota--Argusville, June 12.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alberta--Glenevis, September 18.
Saskatchewan--Wiseton, September 27. Manitoba--Shoal Lake,
September 28. North Dakota--Fargo, October 9 (bird banded). South
Dakota--Lennox, October 5. Texas--Cove, November 13. Minnesota--St.
Paul, October 2. Wisconsin--Appleton, October 18. Iowa--Sigourney,
October 20. Ontario--Toronto, October 16. Ohio--Cleveland,
November 2. Indiana--Elkhart, October 16. Kentucky--Bowling Green,
November 10. Tennessee--Nashville, November 11. Mississippi--Gulfport,
November 8. Louisiana--New Orleans, November 4. Newfoundland--Tompkins,
September 25. Prince Edward Island--North River, September 8.
Quebec--Quebec, September 19. New Brunswick--Saint John, October 12.
Maine--Portland, September 28. New Hampshire--Hanover, October 16.
Massachusetts--Lynn, October 28. New York--Long Beach, October 27.
Pennsylvania--Jeffersonville, October 15. District of
Columbia--Washington, October 28. Virginia--Lawrenceville,
October 25. North Carolina--Raleigh, October 20. South
Carolina--Cherokee Plantation, November 12. Georgia--Atlanta,
November 4. Florida--Pensacola, October 31.

Early dates of fall arrival: North Dakota--Fargo, September 3. South
Dakota--Aberdeen, August 26. Nebraska--Monroe Canyon, Sioux County,
September 12. Texas--Brownsville, September 3. Wisconsin--New London,
August 12. Iowa--Grinnell, August 20. Illinois--Chicago, August 12.
Indiana--Indianapolis, August 25. Kentucky--Wurtland, August 8.
Tennessee--Nashville, August 27. Mississippi--Edwards, September 7.
Louisiana--September 11. District of Columbia--Washington, August 15.
Virginia--Charlottesville, September 3. North Carolina--Asheville,
August 28. Georgia--Athens, September 7. Alabama--Birmingham, September
13. Florida--St. Augustine, September 3. Cuba--Habana, November 3.
Yucatán--Chichén-Itzá, October 7. Honduras--Truxillo, September 27.
Guatemala--Colomba, September 30. El Salvador--Divisadero, October 12.
Nicaragua--Río Escondido, October 27. Panamá--Cocoplum, October 24.

_Casual records._--A specimen was secured in Bermuda on May 7, 1878; a
specimen was collected at Godthaab, Greenland, in 1875; a bird was
picked up, recently dead, at Salem, Oreg., in January 1907; and on
October 1, 1913, a specimen was picked up dead on the sea ice a mile off
shore from Humphrey Point, Alaska. Eight specimens have been taken in
California: Farallon Islands, May 29 and June 2, 1911; at sea about 10
miles west of Halfmoon Bay, June 8, 1943; Yosemite Valley, October 6,
1919; Santa Cruz Island, May 23, 1908; Santa Barbara Island, May 15,
1897; and Los Angeles, October 21, 1897, and October 5, 1901.

_Egg dates._--Maine: 95 records, June 4 to 30; 74 records, June 7 to 15,
indicating the height of the season.

New Brunswick: 59 records, June 7 to 28; 37 records, June 13 to 19.

New York: 23 records, June 3 to July 1; 13 records, June 5 to 12.

Pennsylvania: 41 records, May 28 to June 13; 32 records, May 30 to June
8 (Harris).





This is the bird that made Cape May famous. Dr. Stone (1937) suggests
that it has "served to advertise the name of Cape May probably more
widely than has been done in any other way." The inappropriate name Cape
May warbler was given to it by Alexander Wilson (1831), who described
and figured it from a specimen of an adult male taken by his friend,
George Ord, in a maple swamp in Cape May County, N. J., in May, 1811. He
never saw it in life and never obtained another specimen. Audubon never
saw it in life, the specimens figured by him having been obtained by
Edward Harris near Philadelphia. Nuttall apparently never saw it.

Dr. Stone (1937) writes: "Curiously enough it seems never to have been
recorded again at Cape May until September 4, 1920, when I recognized
one in a shade tree on Perry Street in company with some Chestnut-sided
Warblers. Since then we have seen a few nearly every year in spring and
fall both at Cape May and at the Point." It is perhaps not to be
wondered at that the early ornithologists knew so little about it before
1860, for bird observers were few and widely scattered in those days,
and the Cape May warbler is only a hurried migrant through the United
States over a very wide immigration range, nowhere very abundant, and
its numbers seem to fluctuate from year to year.

Some years before Wilson named the Cape May warbler, a specimen of the
same bird flew aboard a vessel off the coast of Jamaica and was painted
and described by George Edwards. This was the basis of Gmelin's name
_tigrina_, little tiger. Although not striped exactly like a tiger, it
has carried this name ever since.

_Spring._--Cape May warblers leave their winter home in the West Indies
in March and pass through the Bahamas and Florida in March and April,
northward along the Atlantic coast, and branch out westward to southern
Missouri and up through the Mississippi Valley to Minnesota and Canada.
Very few stop to settle much short of the Canadian border. Dr. Chapman
(1907) writes of the spring migration: "In early May in Florida, I have
seen this species actually common, feeding in weedy patches among a rank
growth of poke-berries. It seemed like wanton extravagance on the part
of nature to bring so many of these generally rare creatures within
one's experience in a single morning. Both on the east and west coasts
of the State the bird is at times a common migrant, possibly bound for
its summer home by way of the Mississippi Valley, where it is more
numerous than in the north Atlantic States."

Amos W. Butler (1898) says:

The Cape May Warbler is generally considered a rare bird everywhere.
While this is true, and some years it is altogether absent, there are
years when it is common and even abundant. In Indiana it appears as a
migrant, perhaps more numerous in fall than spring. * * * Some years
with us they are found upon the drier uplands, among the oak woods,
where they usually keep among the lower branches or upon the high bushes
and smaller trees. They are not very active, but keep persistently
hunting insects. At other times, we find them among our orchards, even
coming into towns, where they occupy themselves catching insects among
the foliage and about the blossoms of all kinds of shade and fruit

In Ohio, according to Milton B. Trautman (1940), "the bird was uncommon
in every spring except 1, and seldom more than 10 individuals were noted
in a day. Between May 14 and 20, 1926, the species was very numerous
throughout central Ohio. On May 16 I noted at least 40 individuals in
Lakeside Woods, and it was evident that hundreds were present in the
area on that day." Referring also to Ohio, W. F. Henninger (1918)
writes: "This year, on May 25, 1917, we entered a large patch of woods
about half a mile from the Grand Reservoir early in the morning, just
when the fog had barely raised above the treetops, and the warblers were
fairly swarming there, among them numbers of Cape May's. I counted more
than fifty, but got tired counting and then gave it up, after taking a
fine pair." Rev. J. J. Murray (MS.) refers to this warbler as common in
the vicinity of Lexington, Va., in the spring from April 29 to May 18,
where it seems to prefer conifers at that season.

I have seen the Cape May warbler fairly common in Florida at times and I
have collected it there, but I have never seen it in my corner of
Massachusetts. Mr. Forbush (1929) tells the story very well for this

For nearly one hundred years at least this species had been considered
very rare in New England, but about 1909 it seemed to become more
common. In May, 1912, at Amesbury, Massachusetts, one chilly morning I
found bright males scattered through the village. A cold wave, catching
them in night migration, had brought them down, and they could be seen
here and there on or near the ground, and in low bushes by the roadside.
In the door-yards and along the streets these lovely birds hopped and
fluttered fearlessly in their search for food, paying little attention
to passers-by. By 1915 they had appeared more generally, and in May,
1917, they were well distributed over a large part of New England.
Since that time Cape May Warblers have been not uncommon transients in
certain years, and they have never been as rare as they formerly were.
In migration they may be found in trees and shrubbery about dwellings
and along village streets almost as commonly as in woods or in swampy
thickets, where at this season they find many insects. Occasionally a
few may be seen in blossoming orchards.

_Courtship._--Information on the courtship behavior of the wood warblers
is so scanty that it seems worthwhile to include two small items on this
subject for the Cape May warbler. While watching a pair at their
nest-building, Dr. Merriam (1917) observed that "on June 11 the male was
seen to chase the female. The next day nest building was apparently
complete. An hour's watching on the 13th also failed to show any further
nest construction, although the female was frequently heard in the low
growth. Once she flew ten feet up in a spruce and gave a peculiar note
at the same time lifting her tail. Immediately the male flew down and
copulation took place. The whole proceeding resembled very much that of
the Chipping Sparrow." James Bond (1937) noted at times that, "when the
female was working on the nest, the male would fly with rigid wings just
above her. This was a characteristic courting display, noted with other

_Nesting._--The Cape May warbler seeks for its summer home the country
of the pointed firs and spruces that tower like tapering church spires
in the Canadian Life Zone of our northern border and in Canada. It seems
to prefer an open, parklike stand of these noble trees rather than the
denser coniferous forests, though it often finds a congenial home along
the borders of the forests or in the more open spaces within them,
especially where there is a mixture of tall white or yellow birches, or
a few hemlocks. Its breeding range follows the Canadian Zone rather
closely, as along the cool coastline of eastern Maine. James Bond writes
to me of its interesting distribution in that state: "In the eastern
half of the state it is found mainly along the coast, as far south as
Hog Island, Knox County. It ranges across Maine through Washington,
Aroostook and northern Penobscot Counties, but is a rare species in the
interior, and is unknown in summer from the Bangor and Lincoln sections
of Penobscot County. I found it most abundant in southern Mount Desert
Island in the vicinity of Ship Harbor. Here several pairs nest every
year in the cool, often fog-drenched woods, although I have found but
one nest."

The first published report of the nesting of the Cape May warbler was
perhaps based on an error in identification. Montague Chamberlain (1885)
reported that his friend James W. Banks found a nest apparently "just
outside the city limits" of Saint John, New Brunswick; he states that it
"was hid among a cluster of low cedars growing in an exposed position,
on a rather open hill-side, near a gentleman's residence, and within a
stone's throw of a much frequented lane. The nest was placed less than
three feet from the ground and within six inches of the tips of the
branches." The location of this nest, as will be seen from the accounts
that follow, was entirely different from that of the many nests found
since; both nest and eggs were said to resemble somewhat those of the
magnolia warbler; no male Cape May warbler was seen or heard, and the
bird Banks reports having shot from the nest may have been wrongly
identified, since the females of the two species are somewhat alike.
Referring to this account, James Bond (1937) remarks: "It would be wise
to regard the 'classical' nest taken near Saint John, New Brunswick, by
Banks as that of a Magnolia Warbler, as is indicated not only by its
situation but by its construction, for the nest of the Cape May Warbler
is a decidedly more bulky affair. I mention this since recent books
still perpetuate this undoubted error, ignoring the information that has
been gleaned during the past twenty years."

Probably the first undoubted nest of the Cape May warbler was found on
an island in Lake Edward, Quebec, on June 7, 1916, by Dr. H. F. Merriam,
who published an interesting account of it (1917). He watched the
building of the nest for some days before the nest was taken on the
eighteenth. The female was seen carrying nesting material into the thick
top of a spruce about 40 feet from the ground in a rather open part of
the woods, consisting for the most part of spruce and balsam of moderate
size interspersed with large white and yellow birches.

The female was not at all timid and apparently gathered most of her
nesting material at two places, both within sixty feet of the nest tree.
* * * While searching in the low growth she was absorbed in manner,
giving only occasionally a sharp chip. In going to the nest her actions
were more rapid and she chipped more frequently, generally alighting ten
to twenty feet below the nest and working her way up from limb to limb
on the outside of the tree. * * * The male was not seen to carry any
nest material but seemed to be generally in the immediate neighborhood.
At times he accompanied the female part way to or from the nest and
sometimes remained near her in the low spruces. * * *

The nest was placed about six feet from the top of the tree on a short
branch nine inches from the trunk and an equal distance from the tip.
From the ground it could not be seen even with field glasses. From a few
feet below the nest was apparently a green ball of moss. Closer
examination, however, showed it to be a neatly cupped nest resting on
the branch and short twigs. To these it was not securely tied and was
lifted intact from its position without difficulty.

The exterior of the nest was of green Sphagnum moss, interwoven with
vine stems, and a very few twigs, bound lightly with plant down, small
wads of which appeared here and there over the moss. The body of the
nest consisted of fine grass stems. Within this was a lining of white
hairs apparently from the rabbit, one small partridge feather and a few
fine black rootlets. The nest was bulky but very neatly and fairly
compactly put together. At the rim one side was very smoothly finished.
This was probably the entrance side toward the tree trunk. It was an
unusual and beautiful nest.

Its dimensions were: outside, 4 inches wide by 2-1/4 deep; inside, 1-3/4
inches wide by 1 inch deep.

Two years later, Philipp and Bowdish (1919) found four nests in northern
New Brunswick. "They were in rather high spruce trees, within two or
three feet of the extreme top, usually as near the top as suitable site
and cover could be secured. All were built in very thick foliage,
against the main stem of the tree, resting lightly on twigs and foliage,
but fairly secured thereto by webs, and were entirely invisible from the
ground, in every case." The nests were from 35 to 40 feet above the
ground, and were not substantially different in size and construction
from that described by Dr. Merriam. They add that the thick lining of
hair, feathers, and a little fur, all smoothly felted, serves to
distinguish the nests from those of the black-poll and myrtle warblers,
and note that the nest tree is usually "fairly openly situated, at least
as to one side, although this is not always the case, since other pairs
watched were very evidently nesting in trees where it was much more
difficult to detect them."

Richard C. Harlow has sent me the data for seven nests of the Cape May
warbler that he collected in Tabusintac, New Brunswick, in 1919. Two of
these were 55 feet from the ground in a fir, and the others were 35, 45,
50, 55, and 60 feet up, respectively, in black spruces. All were in the
very topmost shelters of the trees, and three of them were in heavy
forests, the others being on the edges. In other respects they were
similar to those described above. The females sat very closely until
almost touched, and then dropped down to the ground.

The nest found by James Bond (MS.) on Mount Desert Island, Maine, was
against the trunk of a red spruce 38 feet above ground and about 4 feet
from the extreme top of the tree. In construction it was similar to
those described above. In his published (1937) paper the tree was said
to be a black spruce, but he now writes to me that it was a red spruce
and that there were no black spruces in the immediate vicinity; these
two spruces are difficult to distinguish.

Dr. Paul Harrington, of Toronto, writes to me that he found a nest of
the Cape May warbler in an open spruce forest near Dorcas Bay, Bruce
Peninsula, on June 12, 1934. "The tree was about 35 feet high, a typical
'church spire.' Near the top was a heavy clump, but I could see nothing
that indicated a nest; when I put my hand in the heavy needles near the
trunk a bird popped out and straight down. * * * I carefully groped
about and eventually found the nest, built near the trunk in the
uppermost clump of needles."

_Eggs._--Mr. Harlow tells me that the Cape May warbler lays from 4 to 9
eggs to a set. The larger numbers must be very rare, but 6 or 7 seem to
be the commonest numbers among my records, and sets of 4 seem to be
uncommon. The eggs vary in shape from ovate to short ovate and are
almost lusterless. They are creamy white, richly spotted and blotched
with shades of reddish brown, such as "auburn," "chestnut," "sayal
brown," "bay," or "snuff brown," with an occasional scrawl of black. The
undermarkings are of "fawn," "light brownish drab," "brownish drab," or
"light mouse gray." The markings are more concentrated at the large end.
The measurements of 50 eggs average 16.8 by 12.5 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =18.4= by 12.3, 18.0 by =14.0=, =15.0=
by 12.0, and 16.0 by =11.5= millimeters (Harris).

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the juvenal plumage, in which
the sexes are alike, as "above, dark hair-brown, olive tinged on the
back. Wings and tail black, edged chiefly with dull brownish
olive-green, the coverts with drab and tipped with buffy white. The two
outer rectrices with subterminal white spots. Below, including sides of
head, mouse-gray with dusky mottling or streaking on the breast and
sides; the abdomen and crissum dingy white faintly tinged with

The partial postjuvenal molt, beginning early in July, involves the
contour plumage and the wing coverts, but not the rest of the wings or
the tail. This produces the first winter plumage, in which the sexes
begin to differentiate. Dr. Dwight describes the first winter male as
"above, dull olive-green, each feather centrally clove-brown veiled with
olive-gray edgings; the rump canary-yellow, the feathers basally black.
Below, including sides of neck, superciliary lines and spot under eye,
canary-yellow, palest on abdomen and crissum, narrowly streaked on sides
of chin, on the throat, breast and sides with black which is veiled by
grayish edgings; auriculars mouse-gray." The young female, he says, is
"duller and browner above, and generally without yellow below, being
dull white with gray streaking."

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt
beginning in late winter, "which involves much of the body plumage but
not the wings nor the tail. The black crown, the streaks on the back,
the chestnut ear-patches and the streaked yellow of the throat and
breast are acquired," in the male. The female in first nuptial plumage
"shows a little yellow assumed by a limited prenuptial moult." Both
sexes are now in nearly fully adult plumage, except for the worn juvenal
wings and tail.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in July and probably a partial
prenuptial molt, as in the young bird, though there is not enough
pertinent material available to prove the latter. Dr. Dwight (1900) says
that the adult winter plumage of the male is "similar to first winter
plumage but the head black, the back streaked and everywhere veiled with
smoke-gray edgings. Below, whitish edgings obscure the black streaks,
the chestnut ear-coverts and the bright lemon-yellow areas. The wings
and tail are blacker than in first winter, the back is black, either
streaked or spotted, and the yellow below is deeper." Of the female, he
says: "The adult winter plumage is similar to the male in first winter
dress, the yellow below rather paler and with less heavy streakings."

_Food._--Throughout most of the year the Cape May warbler is
insectivorous, and mainly beneficial, but for a short time on its fall
migration it undoubtedly causes damage to ripe grapes by puncturing them
to obtain the juice, often ruining a large percentage of the crop. Many
complaints have been made and several have been published. Frank L.
Burns (1915a) claimed that about 50 percent of his crop was destroyed at
Berwyn, Pa., and says: "I believe that grape juice was the principal
food of the Cape May Warbler during its lengthy visit in this
neighborhood. It was present in countless numbers at Berwyn and vicinity
as far as a mile south of the village, apparently by far the most
abundant species for a period; the complaints of the the 'little striped
yellow bird' were many, and so far as I am able to learn, all unbagged
grapes were ruined; the loss must have been many tons worth several
hundred dollars." He sent ten stomachs to the Biological Survey for
analysis and received the following reply:

Hymenoptera constituted on an average 57.5 percent of the contents of
the stomachs. A third perhaps of this material was parasitic Hymenoptera
and their destruction counts against the bird. The others were ants and
small bees and are of neutral importance except perhaps the ants which
may be injurious. Diptera made up 16.7 percent of the stomach contents
and again a large proportion of them were parasitic species. Lepidoptera
(small moths) constitute 16.7 per cent, beetles 7.8 percent and the
remainder was made up of Hemiptera, spiders and miscellaneous insects.
Except for the spiders the food was entirely composed of insects, and a
large proportion of useful species were taken and no decidedly injurious
ones. I should say that these Cape May Warblers did very little to pay
for the destruction of grapes.

McAtee (1904), after investigating the damage done on grapes by this and
the Tennessee warbler in Indiana, published the following report on the
contents of a single stomach of a Cape May warbler:

8 _Typlocyba comes_, an especial pest of the grape, "an exceedingly
abundant and destructive" jassid; 3 _Aphodius inquinatus_ and one
Carabid, kinds which may be considered neutral economically, but, in
case of a departure from their ordinary diet, would on account of
vegetarian tendencies become injurious; 1 _Drasterias_ sp.
(click-beetle), 1 tortoise-beetle, 1 flea-beetle (_Haltica chalybea_),
all injurious beetles, the last of which is a particular enemy of the
grape, which "appears on the vine in early spring and bores into and
scoops out the unopened buds, sometimes so completely as to kill the
vine to the roots," and later in the season in both larval and adult
stages feeds upon the foliage, and if abundant "leaves little but the
larger veins"; 1 _Notoxus_ sp., a weevil, with all the undesirability
characteristic of the creatures bearing that name; 2 ants, harmful, if
for no other reason than harboring plant lice; and a vespoidean
hymenopteron (wasp) of neutral significance. * * *

The feeding habits of the birds may, from the present knowledge, be
declared practically entirely beneficial. In return it seems not too
much to expect that we should without complaint furnish, for a few days
in the year, the drink to wash the great numbers of our insect enemies
down to their destruction; and to consider these two little fellows as
among the worthiest as they are among the prettiest of our warbler

Prof. Maurice Brooks (1933), speaking of this warbler in West Virginia,

We had at that time [1909] a small commercial vineyard, and during the
first week in September, when the crop was just ripening, we were
surprised to find in the vineyard swarms of Cape May Warblers. We were
not long in doubt as to their purpose there, for within a week they had
destroyed practically every grape we had. * * * Their method was to
puncture the skin of the berry at one point, extract a little juice, and
move on to the next. They would systematically work over every berry in
the cluster, if undisturbed, and they soon became exceedingly tame. It
is no exaggeration to say that there were hundreds of the birds in the

After the birds had made one puncture, swarms of bees and wasps soon
finished the work of destruction. There was no way of frightening so
many birds away, and we were driven to sacking our grapes in the future.
The next year, 1910, they returned in numbers again, destroying
practically all unsacked clusters, and completely cleaning out the vines
of our neighbors, who raised just a few grapes for their home use.

These and other warblers have been seen drinking sap from the holes dug
in trees by sapsuckers, but they also obtain some insects from such
borings and perhaps also from the punctured grapes, which make fine
insect traps. However, the damage does not seem to be universal, and
occurs only where the birds are abundant, and then for only a short
time. In view of his record as an insect destroyer, the laborer may be
worthy of his hire.

To the insects mentioned as food for this warbler, A. H. Howell (1932)
adds small crickets, flies, leaf hoppers, termites, larvae of moths,
dragonflies, and daddy-long-legs.

_Behavior._--Brewster (1938) writes:

It keeps invariably near the tops of the highest trees whence it
occasionally darts out after passing insects. It has a habit of singing
on the extreme pinnacle of some enormous fir or spruce, where it will
often remain perfectly motionless for ten or fifteen minutes at a time;
on such occasions the bird is extremely hard to find, and if shot is
almost certain to lodge on some of the numerous spreading branches
beneath. * * * In rainy or dark weather they came in numbers from the
woods to feed among the thickets of low firs and spruces in the
pastures. Here they spent much of their time hanging head downward at
the extremity of the branches, often continuing in this position for
nearly a minute at a time. They seemed to be picking minute insects from
the under surface of the fir needles. They also resorted to a thicket of
blossoming plum trees directly under our window, where we were always
sure of finding several of them. There were numerous Hummingbirds here
also, and these, the Cape Mays were continually chasing.

While watching a pair at their nest building, Dr. Merriam (1917) saw a
female on the ground gathering material; she "was attacked by a Junco
and after a chase the Junco actually caught and held her. At this
commotion the male Cape May flew down and lit close by but took no
active part in the argument. The Junco was apparently victor for after
one more flight to her nest the female Cape May was not again seen to
trespass on the Junco's territory or do any more nest building that
morning." However, in his notes from West Virginia, Dr. J. J. Murray
says that "this warbler is more active and restless in its feeding than
any of our warblers, except possibly the myrtle; and it is also noisier
and more aggressive in its attitude toward other warblers which seek to
share its feeding places." Harlow also says that "the male Cape May is
the tiger of the north woods in defending his territory. He attacks all
birds that come close to the nest, up to the size of the olive-backed
thrush, and is absolutely fearless."

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders sends me the following note on the song of
this warbler: "I have had few opportunities to study the song of the
Cape May warbler, and have only five records. These show that the song
is weak, high-pitched and somewhat sibilant. The notes are mainly all on
one pitch, in even rhythmic time and from eight to eleven in number.
They are pitched on E´´´´ and F´´´´. Two of the songs have one or two
notes, near the end, a half-tone higher in pitch than the others. The
songs are from 1-3/5 to 2 seconds in length."

Francis H. Allen (MS.) heard one singing and feeding in some Norway
spruce in West Roxbury, Mass., on May 10. "He had _chip_ notes very much
like a familiar note of the chipping sparrow. (I have also recorded a
_prssp_ like that of the black-poll warbler but fainter and sometimes
doubled.) This bird had a variety of songs. The simplest one resembled
the black and white warbler's song and a short simple song of the
redstart, but was thinner and harder in quality than the latter. Then
there were other, more elaborate songs, some divided into two parts and
some into three. Two or three times he sang several times with no pauses
between, making what was practically a long continuous song. The chief
characteristic of the songs, I should say, was short and staccato double
notes, the latter part of which were very high-pitched. These repeated
several times formed the simplest of the songs. The song in three parts
reminded me of that of the Tennessee warbler, but was higher pitched and
not so full and loud. The bird had long periods of silence, but sang
freely when he did sing."

Brewster (1938) says that "the song of this Warbler is harder--or at
least sharper and more penetrating--than that of either the Bay-breast
or Blackburnian. In these respects it resembles the song of
_Protonotaria_ but the tone or quality is more wiry and, indeed, very
close to that of _Mniotilta_."

_Field marks._--The adult male Cape May warbler should be unmistakable
in his brilliant spring plumage, with his black cap, chestnut cheeks,
white lesser wing coverts, and bright yellow breast conspicuously
streaked with black.

The female lacks the black cap and chestnut cheeks; her breast is pale
yellow streaked with pale dusky; and all her colors are duller. Young
birds are much like the female, but are still duller in coloration. See
descriptions of other plumages. The tail-tilting habit is quite

_Fall._--The fall migration starts in August and is prolonged through
September, or even into October or a little later. The birds are
numerically more abundant in the fall because of the large families of
young, but they are less conspicuous while the foliage is still on the
trees and while they are clad in dull autumn and immature plumages.
Deciduous woods seem to be their favorite haunts at this season. The
migration route is a reversal of the spring route, the main flight being
between the Mississippi and the Alleghenies.

In this area, the birds are often excessively abundant, as shown by the
accounts in the preceding paragraphs under food. They are common in
Florida on migration on their way to the Bahamas and West Indies. C. J.
Maynard (1896) writes:

"They were very abundant at Key West in November, frequenting the
gardens near the houses where they were searching among the tropical
trees and shrubs for inesects. The birds were very unsuspicious, often
clinging to branches which overhung the sidewalks within a few feet of
the passengers. They appeared to prefer the inhabited portion of the
Key, for I rarely found them in wooded districts. The majority left the
island before the first of December, but a few remained all winter."

_Winter._--Maynard (1896) says: "These birds are also common on all of
the northern Bahamas which I have visited, occurring in the thickets
about gardens as well as in the dense scrub. I found them abundant on
Inagua in February, 1888. Here they were feeding upon the juices of a
large tubular flower of a peculiar species of vine, in company with the
Bahama Honey Creeper and the Lyre-tailed Hummingbird."

In Cuba, according to Dr. Barbour (1923), "a few arrive from time to
time during the autumn, but in February they become really common; they
stay until May. They are great flower feeders and haunt aloes and the
majagua tree when it is in bloom. Many may be seen about the sisal
plantations near Matanzas and in gardens where agaves blossom."

Wetmore and Swales (1931) write: "Though the Cape May warbler is found
through the Greater Antilles Hispaniola appears to be the winter
metropolis of the species as the birds are found throughout the island
often in considerable numbers. In fact their abundance in some
localities is almost bewildering to one accustomed to their rarity as
migrants in the eastern United States."


_Range._--Eastern North America and the West Indies.

_Breeding range._--The Cape May warbler breeds =north= to northeastern
Alberta (Chipewyan); possibly southwestern Mackenzie (Simpson); northern
Saskatchewan (north shore of Lake Athabaska near Fair Point); central
Ontario (Moose Factory); and southern Quebec (Lake Abitibi, Lake Edward,
and Anticosti Island). =East= to eastern Quebec (Anticosti Island and
Grand Grève); New Brunswick (Tabusintac and Saint John); and Nova Scotia
(Wolfville and Stewiacke). =South= to Nova Scotia (Stewiacke); southern
Maine (Ship Harbor, Mount Desert Island; Hog Island, Muscongus Bay;
Pemaquid Point; and Auburn); northern New Hampshire (Lake Umbagog);
south-central Vermont (Mount Killington); northern New York (North
Elba); southern Ontario (Dorcas Bay and Biscotasing); northern Michigan
(Newberry and Camp Cusino); northern Wisconsin (Kelley Brook and
Harbster); rarely northeastern Minnesota (Gabro Lake); southwestern
Ontario (Lac Seul); and central Alberta (Lesser Slave Lake and Sturgeon
Lake). =West= to west-central and northeastern Alberta (Sturgeon Lake
and Chipewyan). The Cape May warbler probably breeds in northern
Manitoba since it is a regular, though not abundant, migrant in the
southern part of the province.

_Winter range._--The winter home of the Cape May warbler is in the West
Indies =north= to the Bahamas (Nassau and Watling Island), =east= and
=south= to St. Lucia, and =west= to Jamaica and western Cuba (Isle of
Pines and Habana). It has also been found on the island of Roatán,
Honduras. It was found in Quintana Roo not far from Xcopén on March 13
which is the second record for Mexico; the other is simply "Yucatán."

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Virgin Islands--St. Croix, April 25. Puerto Rico--Mayagüez, April 8.
Haiti--Île à Vache, April 30. Cuba--Habana, May 4. Bahamas--Nassau, May

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Key West, March 6.
Georgia--Macon, April 7. South Carolina--Chester, April 15. North
Carolina--Greensboro, April 13. District of Columbia--Washington, April
19. Pennsylvania--Carlisle, April 30. New York--Geneva, April 30.
Massachusetts--Amherst, May 4. Vermont--Clarendon, May 7. Maine--Auburn,
May 4. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 8. Nova Scotia--Pictou, May 11.
Quebec--Montreal, May 14. Tennessee--Nashville, April 16.
Kentucky--Russellville, April 27. Indiana--Bloomington, April 22.
Ohio--Oberlin, April 27. Michigan--Ann Arbor, April 27. Ontario--London,
May 1; Moose Factory, May 28. Iowa--Davenport, May 2. Wisconsin--Racine,
May 2. Minnesota--St. Paul, May 2. South Dakota--Sioux Falls, May 12.
North Dakota--Argusville, May 11. Manitoba--Aweme, May 10.
Saskatchewan--Indian Head, May 16. Alberta--Medicine Hat, May 17.

Some late dates of spring departure of transients are:
Florida--Warrington, May 18. Alabama--Anniston, May 7. Georgia--Round
Oak, May 15. South Carolina--Clemson (College), May 17. North
Carolina--Arden, May 19. Virginia--Naruna, May 29. District of Columbia,
Washington, May 30. Pennsylvania--Doylestown, May 26. New
York--Watertown, June 1. Massachusetts--Northampton, June 6.
Tennessee--Nashville, May 15. Kentucky--Bowling Green, May 10.
Illinois--Chicago, June 3. Indiana--Lafayette, May 31. Ohio--Austinburg
June 2. Michigan--Sault Ste. Marie, June 7. Ontario--Ottawa, June 7.
Minnesota--Minneapolis, June 1. South Dakota--Sisseton, June 3. North
Dakota--Grafton, June 5. Manitoba--Aweme, June 1.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alberta--Camrose, August 26.
Saskatchewan--Eastend, August 29. Manitoba--Winnipeg, October 7. North
Dakota--Fargo, October 3 (bird banded). Wisconsin--Racine, October 16.
Iowa--Iowa City, November 27. Michigan--Detroit, October 16.
Ontario--Point Pelee, October 5. Ohio--Cleveland, November 2.
Indiana--Waterloo, October 15. Illinois--Rantoul, October 23.
Kentucky--Bowling Green, October 15. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake,
September 28. Massachusetts--Belmont, November 25. New York--Hewlett,
November 15. Pennsylvania--West Chester, October 31. District of
Columbia--Washington, November 26. Virginia--Sweet Briar, November 29.
North Carolina, Raleigh, November 1. South Carolina--Mount Pleasant,
November 3. Georgia--St. Marys, October 31. Florida--Lemon City,
November 25.

The Cape May warbler sometimes lingers very late in fall migration. It
has been found on Long Island at Hewlett as late as December 4; at
Harrisburg, Pa., one was trapped and banded on December 5; it has twice
been collected at Washington, D. C., on December 16; one was found at
Bethany, W. Va., on December 7; one seen at Brownsville, Tex., on
December 22; and reported in December at Key West, Fla.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Manitoba--Winnipeg, August 20. North
Dakota--Fargo, September 18. Minnesota--Minneapolis, August 25.
Wisconsin--Green Bay, August 1. Illinois--Chicago, August 19.
Ontario--Cobalt, August 12. Michigan--Whitefish Point, August 5.
Ohio--Toledo, August 14. New Hampshire--Pequaket, August 24.
Vermont--Wells River, August 4. Massachusetts--Harvard, August 30.
New York--Rhinebeck, August 3. Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh, August 28.
District of Columbia--Washington--August 4. Virginia--Charlottesville,
September 4. North Carolina--Weaverville, September 15. South
Carolina--Charleston, September 13. Georgia--Savannah, September 23.
Florida--Sombrero Key, September 17. Bahamas--Cay Lobos, October 20.
Cuba--Santiago de las Vegas, September 20. Dominican Republic--Sánchez,
October 23. Puerto Rico--Faro de Cabo Rojo, September 17.

_Banding._--The one banding recovery available is especially interesting
as it indicates a peculiar migration. A Cape May warbler banded at
Elmhurst, Long Island, N. Y., on September 12, 1937, was caught by a cat
October 15, 1937 at Cleveland, Tenn.

_Casual records._--In British Columbia one was collected June 17, 1938,
at Charlie Lake. In California one was collected at Potholes on the
Colorado River, September 23, 1924. A specimen labeled "Arizona" taken
before 1876 is in the museum in Paris. The Cape May warbler has been
once observed in Bermuda, April 3, 1909.

_Egg dates._--Maine: 2 records, June 6 to 15.

New Brunswick: 68 records, June 10 to 29; 43 records, June 12 to 20;
indicating the height of the season.



PLATES 29, 30


This neatly dressed warbler is one of our commonest migrants throughout
the eastern half of the United States, but as a breeding bird it is
confined mainly to the northernmost States and to extreme southern
Canada, almost wholly within the Canadian Zone. Its rather long common
name describes this dainty bird.

_Spring._--From its principal winter resort in the West Indies, the
black-throated blue warbler migrates through the Bahamas and Florida to
the Atlantic States and northward, along the Alleghenies and to the
eastward of them, to its northeastern breeding grounds. According to
Prof. W. W. Cooke (1904) the earliest arrivals usually strike the
Sombrero Key lighthouse in Florida around the middle of April, although
there are two or three exceptionally early records in March. As the
average dates of arrival in New England and New Brunswick are only about
a month later, it would seem that the migration is fairly rapid. But the
dates of earliest arrival do not tell the whole story, for Frederick C.
Lincoln (1939) observed this species in the mountains of Haiti in the
middle of May, showing that there are always many late migrants.

Professor Cooke's records show that this species arrives at Asheville,
N. C., a few days earlier than at Raleigh, N. C., suggesting that this
is one of the few species that appear in the mountains earlier than on
the plains.

There is a northward migration west of the Alleghenies corresponding
almost exactly in time with that along the Atlantic slope. Cooke says
that "in southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi the black-throated
blue warbler is almost unknown." He gives only very few records for any
point south of Indiana, and some of these may have come across the Gulf
of Mexico. The inference is that the bulk of the birds that migrate
northward through the central States may have crossed the lower
Alleghenies into these valleys. According to his records, it takes the
birds only about 10 days to migrate from Brookville, Ind., to points in

On its migration the black-throated blue warbler shows a preference for
the lower shrubbery in various kinds of woodlands, but it may also be
seen almost anywhere in such suitable cover in our parks and gardens or
about human dwellings. Milton B. Trautman (1940) says that, in Ohio,
these and the Canada warblers "were close associates in migration and
frequented the same habitat niches."

In its summer home this warbler is even more of a woodland bird,
frequenting heavy deciduous woods where there is more or less thick
undergrowth of mountain-laurel, rhododendron, creeping yew, deciduous
bushes, small saplings, or tiny conifers. My most intimate acquaintance
with the black-throated blue warbler was made while visiting at Asquam
Lake, N. H., with Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Harding. From their camp the
land slopes downward to the shore of the lake and is heavily wooded with
tall white oaks, swamp white oaks, red oaks, beeches, maples, paper
birches, and other deciduous trees; there are also some white pines and
hemlocks scattered through the forest, and a heavy undergrowth of
mountain-laurel, striped maple, witch-hazel, and other shrubbery. The
black-throated blue warblers and the veeries were the commonest breeding
birds in this area.

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that about Monadnock, N.H.,
this is "a bird of the ampler deciduous undergrowth in deep, moist
woods--mixed virgin timber or very old second growth. It is peculiarly
partial to these woodland conditions, and is common wherever they occur,
especially between the altitudes of 1,000 and 2,500 feet. Creeping yew
is almost always common in woods where these Warblers breed, and they
sometimes, perhaps often, nest in a clump of it." And William Brewster
(1938) says that around Umbagog Lake, Maine, "the local population was
chiefly concentrated wherever there were extensive patches of yew
(_Taxus canadensis_)." I can find no evidence that this warbler is ever
common in clear stands of coniferous trees, but is often found in mixed
woods where there is a scattering of the evergreens, especially if there
are small seedlings of spruce, fir, or hemlock, in which they sometimes
build their nests.

_Territory._--In favored regions, where the population is fairly dense,
as it often is, the males arrive ahead of the females and establish
their breeding and feeding territories, which they often have to defend
against intruding males of the same species. John Burroughs (1895)
describes such an encounter as follows: "Their battle-cry is a low,
peculiar chirp, not very fierce, but bantering and confident. They
quickly come to blows, but it is a very fantastic battle, and, as it
would seem, indulged in more to satisfy their sense of honor than to
hurt each other, for neither party gets the better of the other, and
they separate a few paces and sing, and squeak, and challenge each other
in a very happy frame of mind. The gauntlet is no sooner thrown down
than it is again taken up by one or the other, and in the course of
fifteen or twenty minutes they have three or four encounters, separating
a little, then provoked to return again like two cocks, till finally
they withdrawn beyond hearing of each other,--both, no doubt, claiming
the victory."

_Nesting._--I believe that John Burroughs (1895) was the first
naturalist to discover the nest of the "black-throated blue-backed
warbler," as he called it, and he wrote an interesting account of his
hunt for it in "Locusts and Wild Honey." It was found in July, 1871, in
Delaware County, N. Y., and contained four young and one addled egg.
"The nest was built in the fork of a little hemlock, about fifteen
inches from the ground, and was a thick, firm structure, composed of the
finer material of the woods, with a lining of very delicate roots or
rootlets." The young birds were nearly fledged and were frightened from
the nest. "This brought the parent birds on the scene in an agony of
alarm. Their distress was pitiful. They threw themselves on the ground
at our very feet, and fluttered, and cried, and trailed themselves
before us, to draw us away from the place, or distract our attention
from the helpless young."

Mrs. Harding showed me some half dozen nests of this warbler in the
locality near her camp at Asquam Lake, N. H. All were in low bushes
of mountain-laurel (_Kalmia latifolia_) from 12 to 18 inches above
the ground and were not very well concealed. They were well made of
strips of inner bark, canoe birch bark, straws, fern fronds, and dry
leaves, and were lined with black horsehair and fine black rootlets.
Altogether, Mrs. Harding (1931) found 15 nests similarly placed in
low mountain-laurels, from 9 to 15 inches up, and all made of similar
materials, but she says that "skunk fur is used freely as a substitute
and sometimes pine needles or bits of moss," in the lining. So far as I
know, she has not found pieces of rotten wood in the nests, as commonly
reported by others.

Miss Cordelia J. Stanwood, of Ellsworth, Maine, tells me that the nests
she finds near her home are placed in small firs or spruces. Frederic H.
Kennard mentions in his notes a Maine nest wonderfully well hidden in a
clump of little spruces about one foot from the ground. He also reports
two Vermont nests, one about 2 feet from the ground in a tangle of
raspberry vines beside a logging road, the other about 8 or 10 inches up
in a little thicket of low-growing mountain maple. Robie W. Tufts tells
me that the few nests he has examined in Nova Scotia were all built in
"small spruce or fir seedlings two or three feet from the ground in
heavy woods of mixed or coniferous growth."

Francis H. Allen writes to me of a nest he found in an unusual situation
in Waterville, N. H.: "It was placed about a foot from the ground in the
small twigs of a fallen beech, on which were the dead leaves of last
season. * * * I collected the nest July 3 after the young had left it.
The measurements were: Diameter, outside, 3-1/2 inches; inside, 2
inches; depth, outside, 2-1/4 inches; inside, 1-1/8 inches. It was
composed mainly of fragments and shreds of dead wood, apparently stuck
together by some glutinous substance, and in one place it had what
seemed to be a web of some kind binding it. A few beech buds and bud
scales were worked in, and a bleached leaf fragment, a shred of yellow
birch-bark, and a small dangling strip of canoe-birch paper--the last
perhaps for ornament--completed the body of the nest. The lining was of
fine black rootlets. The general effect of the outside was a light
yellow or bright straw-color. It was an interesting and a beautiful

Dr. Chapman (1907) says that "nests found by Burtch (MS.) at Branchport,
New York, were built in birch saplings eighteen and twenty inches from
the ground, and in a blackberry bush fourteen inches from the ground."
He quotes from the manuscript of Egbert Bagg, of Utica, N. Y., who found
nests very similar to the one described above by F. H. Allen. But he
says that "one nest had some of the finer quills of our common porcupine
(even large enough for their barbs to be visible to the naked eye). This
sort of lining might be satisfactory to the old bird, protected by her
coat of feathers, but would seem to be somewhat dangerous to her naked
fledglings." One of his nests, evidently built in an upright fork,
measured "diameter, outside, 3-1/2 inches, inside, 2-1/4 inches; height,
outside, 5 inches; depth, inside, 1-1/2 inches."

T. E. McMullen has sent me the data for 22 nests, found in the Pocono
Mountains, Pa. All of these were built in rhododendrons in woods, two
on hillsides, one on the edge of a road, one on the edge of the woods,
one near a creek, and three along a creek bank. Most of Mr. Brewster's
(1938) Lake Umbagog nests were placed low down in yews (_Taxus
canadensis_). Apparently, the favorite nesting sites of the
black-throated blue warbler are in the broadleaf evergreens,
mountain-laurels and rhododendrons, where these are available; next in
popularity come the other evergreens (spruces, firs, and hemlocks) of
small size; but nests have been found in many places in deciduous
seedlings, saplings and sprouts, mainly maple and beech, or in various
other bushes or tangles.

Mrs. Harding gave me an account of the building of a nest, which she
watched during a period of four days. Most of the work was done by the
female, but the male helped shape the nest occasionally. The beginning
of the nest and much of the main part of it was made of thin strips of
the paperlike bark of the white, or canoe, birch firmly bound in place
with great quantities of cobwebs; during the early stages of building
the rim was anchored with several strands of cobweb to the surrounding
leaves and twigs to secure it while the nest was being shaped; this the
bird did by sitting in the nest and turning around in all directions,
molding it inside with her feet and breast and pressing her tail down
over the edge to smooth the exterior. The male sang in the vicinity and
brought some of the material, and once he drove away another male. The
nest was finished on the fourth day. This process is described in more
detail in Mrs. Harding's (1931) paper, where she notes "there is usually
an interim of at least twenty-four hours before the first egg is laid.
The female lays the eggs at intervals of twenty-four hours--frequently
early in the morning. * * * On the morning of the fourth day when the
clutch is complete the female commences incubating."

_Eggs._--The black-throated blue warbler lays normally four eggs, three
are not a rare complement, but five are seldom found. Richard C. Harlow
tells me that in over 200 nests that he has examined he has found only 4
sets of five.

The eggs vary in shape from ovate to short ovate, rarely tending to
elongate ovate, and are only slightly lustrous. They are white or creamy
white, speckled, blotched, or clouded with tones of "pecan brown,"
"russet," "Mars brown," "cinnamon-brown," "chestnut-brown," "bay," or
"auburn," with undertones of "benzo brown," "light brownish drab,"
"light violet-gray," or "pale Quaker drab." There is quite a little
variation in the markings, ranging from spots and undertones that are
distinct and clearly defined to spots clouded together and undertones
only faintly discernible. The markings are usually concentrated at the
large end, often forming a loose wreath, or sometimes a solid cap of
brown. Occasionally, markings are well scattered over the entire egg.
There seem to be two distinct types, one having spots of two or three
shades of brown, with gray undertones, the other with tones of only one
shade of brown, with drab undertones. The measurements of 50 eggs
average 16.9 by 12.8 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =18.9= by 13.0, 16.7 by =13.5=, =15.2= by 12.2, and 17.0 by
=11.8= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation for the black-throated blue warbler,
according to Miss Stanwood's notes, is about 12 days; and the young
remain in the nest for about 10 days. Incubation of the eggs and
brooding of the young is done by the female only, but feeding the young
and cleaning the nest is shared about equally with the male. She saw the
young fed with daddy-long-legs, white moths, caterpillars, crane-flies,
mosquitoes, and many other insects.

Quoting from the notes of J. A. Farley, Mr. Forbush (1929) gives the
following picture of a brooding female: "She had spread the white
feathers of her lower parts out so completely over her young that there
was not a vestige now visible of the four young that I had found a short
time previously filling the nest so full. She 'fluffed' herself out so
as to hide all traces of the young. * * * She made a beautiful picture.
The whole effect was wonderful. The bird seemed to be sitting in a
billowy mass of eider down, or cotton wool, that swelled, or rather
bulged, up all around her, a regular bed of down."

Mrs. Nice (1930b) watched a brood of young black-throated blue warblers,
in Pelham, Mass., for 7 consecutive days, June 24 to 30, and for a total
of 36-1/2 hours. During this time the female fed the young 193 times and
the male, 201 times; the average feeding time was once in 5.6 minutes;
the female brooded 22 times, a total of 200 minutes, mainly in the
earlier half of the period; the feces were eaten by the female 6 times
and by the male 13 times; they were carried away by the female 47 times
and by the male 67 times.

As to the food of the young, Mrs. Harding (1931) writes:

As soon as the young hatch the female begins feeding them. I have seen
no evidence of regurgitation. She thoroughly crushes caterpillars, etc.,
between her mandibles before giving them to the young. Their food for
the first day consists of small insects, soft white grubs and a large
number of half inch, smooth, green caterpillars, which are found on
hemlock trees. From the second to the eighth day their diet consists
chiefly of small green caterpillars, insects, white grubs and an
occasional may-fly or gray and cream colored caterpillar without spines.
On the ninth and tenth day their diet still includes white grubs and
green caterpillars, but dragon flies and may-flies are the chief
staples. Slugs, winged ants, white cabbage butterflies and moths are
also on the menu.

From the time the young hatch until they are five days old the parents
swallow the faecal sacs. After that they carry them away from the nest
and place them on the branches of neighboring trees--frequently using
dead branches.

She gives a detailed account of the development of the young and their
manner of leaving the nest naturally on the tenth day. During the 6 days
when she thought it safe to handle them without driving them out of the
nest too soon, one increased in weight from 22 grains to 141, and
another from 24 to 147 grains.

_Plumages._--The sexes differ slightly in the juvenal plumage. The young
male is olive-brown above; the wings are blackish, the primaries edged
with bluish-leaden-gray; the wing coverts, secondaries, and tertials are
margined with olive-green, and there is a white patch near the base of
the primaries, as in the adult; the tail is much like that of the adult;
the under parts are brownish, tinged with yellowish on the throat and
abdomen; the lores and two submalar streaks are dusky, and the
superciliary stripe is yellowish white. The young female is similar, but
has dull brown wings and tail with greenish instead of bluish edgings,
and the white area in the primaries is smaller, more dingy and sometimes

A partial postjuvenal molt occurs in late July and August involving the
contour plumage and the wing coverts but not the rest of the wings or
the tail, producing a first winter plumage in which the sexes become
decidedly differentiated and not very different from the adults at that
season. This is one of the few wood warblers in which the fall plumage
is very much like the spring dress. In the young male the blue of the
upper parts is not as clearly blue as in the adult; the feathers of the
back are faintly edged with olive-green, those of the black throat
veiled with dull whitish, and the abdomen is tinged with yellowish. The
young female differs from the fall adult in being greener above, without
bluish tinge, and more buffy or yellowish below.

There is a limited prenuptial molt about the head, and wear has removed
most of the edgings and fading has made the under parts clearer. At this
age, young birds can be distinguished from adults by the worn and dull
brown wings and tail. Subsequent molts and plumages, in which young and
old are alike, consist of a complete postnuptial molt in July and August
and a limited prenuptial molt about the head. The adult male in the fall
is only slightly tipped with greenish above and with whitish on the
black throat, which may be somewhat less in extent.

_Food._--No thorough study of the food of the black-throated blue
warbler seems to have been made, but probably all of the items
mentioned as food for the young are also eaten by the adults. Forbush
(1929) adds the hairy tent caterpillar, flies, beetles, and plant lice.
Aughey (1878) found 23 locusts and 15 other insects in one stomach
collected in Nebraska. Dr. Wetmore (1916) reports on the contents of
eight stomachs collected in Puerto Rico, in which animal matter formed
75.5 percent and vegetable matter 24.5 percent of the food. "The
vegetable food was found in the three stomachs taken in December and
January and consisted of seeds of the camacey (_Miconia prasina_)." The
principal items in the animal food were lantern flies (Fulgoridae),
19.46 percent, various weevils, 14.25 percent, flies, 10.09 percent, and
spiders, 12.62 percent. A few beetles and one ant were eaten. Most of
the food consisted of harmful insects.

_Behavior._--The black-throated blue warbler is one of the tamest and
most confiding of all our wood warblers. I was able to photograph (pl.
30) the female incubating and both sexes feeding the young at very short
range without any special concealment; they are very devoted parents and
show great concern when the safety of their young is threatened,
trailing along the ground with the broken-wing act in great distress.

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907): "In its movements the
Black-throated Blue is more deliberate than many of its relatives, but
it has at the same time a somewhat Redstart-like way of 'spiriting'
itself from one perch to another, and, while perched, of partly opening
its white-mooned wings;--a habit and a marking shared by the boldly
blue-and-black-and-white males and the dimly green and yellowish females
and young."

Henry D. Minot (1877) writes:

They are very dexterous in obtaining their insect prey; sometimes
seizing it in the air, with the skill of a true Flycatcher, and at other
times finding it among the branches of the various trees which they
frequent. Now they twist their heads into seemingly painful postures,
the better to search the crannies in the bark or blossoms, now spring
from a twig to snap up an insect in the foliage above their heads,
instantly returning, and now flutter before a cluster of opening leaves,
with the grace of a Hummingbird. Occasionally they descend to the
ground, and are so very tame that once, when I was standing motionless,
observing some Warblers near me, one hopped between my feet to pick up a
morsel of food.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders has sent me the following study of the
song: "The song of the black-throated blue warbler, in its more typical
forms, is one of only three or four slowly drawled notes in a peculiarly
husky voice, the last note commonly slurred upward. While the number of
notes in the songs varies in my 41 records from two to seven, more than
half of them are of only three notes, and most of the others are of four
or five. In all, 22 songs end with the upward slur of the last note, 14
in an unslurred note and 5 in a downward slur. The general trend of the
pitch is upward in 29 records, downward in 10, and ending in the same
pitch as the first note in 2.

"The pitch of songs varies from G´´´ to E´´´´, a range of four and a
half tones. Single songs range from half a tone to three tones, the
majority covering one and a half or two tones. The length of the songs
is from 1-1/5 to 2 seconds. This indicates the slowness of the three or
four notes, for other warbler songs with twice as many notes are about
the same length. In the few songs of this bird that have more notes the
notes are shorter and faster, so that the songs are not longer.

"This species shows a greater tendency to sing unusual songs than most
warblers. On three occasions I have heard a warbler song that I could
not recognize, and when I located the bird, found it to be a
black-throated blue.

"Two of these songs were of rapid notes, in a clear, ringing quality,
not at all like the ordinary song of this bird. The third was two rather
long notes in a clear, sweet whistle, the second higher in pitch than
the first, so that it resembled the _phoebe_ whistle of the chickadee

"The average date of the last song in 14 summers in Allegany State Park
is July 21. The earliest is July 14, 1927 and 1940, and the latest July
29, 1931. The song is rarely revived in August, after the molt."

Francis H. Allen (MS.) writes the two common songs as "_quee quee
quee-e-e´_" and "_que-que-que-que quee-ee´_," and says further, "in June
1907, I heard a bird in Shelburne, Vt., that sang persistently a short
song like _k[=u] quee-e-e´_ besides singing occasionally one of the
ordinary songs. In May, 1910, at Jaffrey, N. H., I heard a bird sing
over and over _qui-qui-qui-qui-qui-qui-qui-qui-quee´_, but most of the
birds of the region seemed to sing _zee zee zee-ee_, with a falling
inflection, while some sang the ordinary _quee quee quee-e-e´_, with
rising inflection. The _quee_ songs have a nasal tone. The call note is
a dry _chut_ or _chet_, resembling the _chip_ of the black-throated
green but not so thick."

Mrs. Nice (1930b) describes four different songs; and Gerald Thayer, in
Chapman (1907), gives four main songs, with variations, but the
versatility of this singer seems to be well enough shown in the previous

_Field marks._--The male black-throated blue warbler could hardly be
mistaken for anything else; there is no other American warbler that is
at all like it. The blue back, the extensive black throat, the white
patch near the bases of the primaries, the white under parts, and the
white spots on the inner webs of the three outer tail feathers are all
diagnostic. Fortunately, the fall plumage is essentially the same. But
the female is one of the most difficult of the warblers to recognize,
olive-green above and buffy below; the only distinctive marks are the
white patches in the wings and tail, similar to those of the male, but
smaller, duller, and sometimes obscure.

_Fall._--As soon as the molting season is over, late in August, old and
young birds begin to drift away from their summer haunts; most of them
depart from New England during September or even late August. Birds from
New England and farther north pass through the Atlantic Coast States to
Florida and the West Indies, while those from the interior migrate
slightly southeastward and across the lower Alleghenies to join them.
Professor Cooke (1904) writes:

Black-throated blue warblers strike the lighthouse at Sombrero Key in
greater numbers than any other kind of bird, particularly during the
fall migration. * * * In five years' time they struck the light on
seventy-seven nights, and as a result 450 dead birds were picked up on
the platform under the lantern. Probably a still larger number fell
into the sea. Adding to these those that were merely stunned and that
remained on the balcony under the light until able to resume their
journey, the keeper counted 2,000 birds that struck. There were two
nights, however, when the numbers of this species were so great that no
attempt was made to count them. The Fowey Rocks lighthouse was struck
on thirty different nights. It is certain, therefore, that the
black-throated blue warbler passes in enormous numbers along both coasts
of southern Florida.

_Winter._--Professor Cooke (1904) observes that "the winter home of the
black-throated blue warbler is better defined than that of any other
common warbler, and allows a very exact determination of the square
miles of territory occupied by it at this season. Cuba, Haiti, and
Jamaica, with a combined area of 74,000 square miles, are doubtless
occupied during the winter by the great majority of the individuals of
the species. The remaining birds do not probably cover enough territory
to bring the total to 80,000 square miles. This is a small area compared
with that occupied during the breeding season." In his Birds of Cuba,
Dr. Thomas Barbour (1923) writes:

The Black-throated Blue Warbler is excessively common, early to arrive
and late to leave. It is one of the tamest and most confiding species,
and one to be found in all sorts of situations. Early pleasant days in
Cuba spent at Edwin Atkins' plantation, Soledad, near Cienfuegos,
brought a great surprise, for I found it not uncommon to have these
little Warblers enter my room through the great ever open windows and
flit from couch to chair. This happened often, notably at Guabairo, not
far from Soledad. So inquisitive and confiding are they, that one can
hardly recognize the rather retiring dweller in woodland solitude which
we know in the North.


_Range._--Eastern North America, from southern Canada to northern South

_Breeding range._--The black-throated blue warbler breeds =north= to
southwestern and central Ontario (Lac Seul, Kapuskasing, and Lake
Timiskaming); and southern Quebec (Blue Sea Lake, Quebec, Godbout, and
Mingan). =East= to southern Quebec (Mingan, Grand Grève, and the
Magdalen Islands); eastern Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Island and Halifax);
southern Maine (Ellsworth and Auburn); southeastern Massachusetts
(Taunton); Connecticut (Hadlyme); northeastern Pennsylvania (Lords
Valley and Pocono Mountain); and southward through the Alleghanies to
Northwestern South Carolina (Mountain Rest); northeastern Georgia (Rabun
Bald, Brasstown Bald, and Young Harris). =South= to northern Georgia
(Young Harris); southeastern Tennessee (Beersheba Springs); southeastern
Kentucky (Log Mountain and Black Mountain); northeastern Ohio (Wayne
Township and Pymatuning Bog); northern Michigan (Douglas Lake and
Wequetonsing); northern Wisconsin (Fish Creek, Mamie Lake, and
Perkinstown); and northern Minnesota (Kingsdale, Cass Lake, and White
Earth; possibly sometimes near Minneapolis). =West= to northern
Minnesota (White Earth) and western Ontario (Lac Seul). The species very
probably breeds rarely in Manitoba or Saskatchewan where there are as
yet only a few records and it is a recent arrival. At Emma Lake,
Saskatchewan, 40 miles north of Prince Albert, 5 were observed June 27
to July 2, 1939. The first record for the Province was a specimen
collected on October 21, 1936, at Percival, 100 miles east of Regina. It
is a rare but tolerably regular migrant through eastern North and South
Dakota, suggesting that there is some as yet unknown breeding area. The
species has been recorded in migration, more often in fall, in Wyoming,
Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Observers at Aweme, Manitoba, in 38 years recorded it only twice.
Another observer at Eastend, southwestern Saskatchewan, recorded it for
the first time on September 21, 1937, after at least twenty years of
continuous observation.

On the basis of such information it seems probable that the species is
slowly spreading its breeding range westward.

_Winter range._--The principal winter home of the black-throated blue
warbler is in the West Indies where it is found =north= to the Bahamas
(Andros, Nassau, and Watling Islands). =East= to Puerto Rico (Río
Piedras) and the Virgin Islands (St. Croix). =South= to Puerto Rico
(Maricas); Hispaniola (Paraíso, Dominican Republic; and Jérémie, Haiti);
Jamaica (Spanishtown); and the Swan Islands. =West= to the Swan Islands;
Cozumel Island; Cuba (Habana); and the Bahamas (Andros). It is also
casual north to southern Florida (Sanibel Island, Key West, and Sombrero
Key); accidental in Guatemala (Cobán); and in northern South America;
Venezuela (Ocumare and Rancho Grande); and Colombia (Las Nubes, Santa
Marta region, and Pueblo Viejo).

The species as outlined is divided into two subspecies or geographic
races. The black-throated blue warbler (_D. c. caerulescens_) is found
in Canada and in the United States south to Pennsylvania; Cairns'
warbler (_D. c. cairnsi_) breeds in the Appalachian Mountains from
southwestern Pennsylvania southward.

_Migration._--Late dates of departure from the winter home are: Puerto
Rico--Consumo, April 3. Haiti--Morne à Cabrits, May 6. Cuba--Habana, May
11. Bahamas--Cay Lobos, May 14.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Fort Myers, March 4.
Georgia--Fitzgerald, April 11. South Carolina--Spartanburg, April 5.
North Carolina--Weaverville, April 19. Virginia--Lynchburg, April 21.
District of Columbia--Washington, April 19. Pennsylvania--Swarthmore,
April 25. New York--New York, April 28. Massachusetts--Amherst, May 2.
New Hampshire--East Westmoreland, April 29. Maine--Auburn, May 3.
Nova Scotia--Scotch Lake, May 7. Quebec--Quebec, May 7.
Louisiana--New Orleans, March 22. Tennessee--Chattanooga, April 14.
Kentucky--Lexington, April 24. Illinois--Urbana, April 26. Ohio--Canton,
April 22. Michigan--Battle Creek, April 28. Ontario--Reaboro, May 3.
Missouri--St. Louis, April 18. Iowa--Sigourney, April 21.
Wisconsin--Ripon, April 28. Minnesota--Hibbing, May 8.

Late dates of the departure of transients in spring are:
Florida--Daytona Beach, May 21. Georgia--Darien, May 20. South
Carolina--Clemson (College), May 15. North Carolina--Raleigh, May 19.
Virginia--Charlottesville, May 22. District of Columbia--Washington, May
30. Pennsylvania--Berwyn, June 3. Ohio--Ashtabula, May 29. Indiana--Fort
Wayne, June 2. Michigan--Detroit, June 2. Illinois--Lake Forest, June 8.
Wisconsin--Racine, June 4. Iowa--National, May 27.

Late dates of fall departure are: North Dakota--Fargo, October 21 (bird
banded). Minnesota--Minneapolis, October 3. Wisconsin--Milwaukee,
October 16. Iowa--Sigourney, October 20. Illinois--Chicago, October 25.
Michigan--Grand Rapids, November 1. Indiana--Indianapolis, October 14.
Ontario--Port Dover, October 27. Ohio--Medina, October 30.
Kentucky--Eubank, October 22. Tennessee--Athens, October 18.
Mississippi--Gulfport, October 12. Quebec--Montreal, October 15. New
Brunswick--Saint John, October 11. Maine--Portland, October 17. New
Hampshire--Water Village, October 8. Massachusetts--Cambridge, November
7. New York--Fire Island, October 24. Pennsylvania--Harrisburg, October
24. District of Columbia--Washington, October 29. Virginia--Lexington,
October 15. North Carolina--Highlands, November 14. South
Carolina--Clemson (College), October 17. Georgia--Athens, November 2.
Florida--Fernandina, November 15.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Wisconsin--New London, August 23.
Michigan--Grand Rapids, August 26. Ohio--Toledo, August 24. Illinois--La
Grange, August 24. District of Columbia--Washington, August 21.
Virginia--Charlottesville, September 12. North Carolina--Mount Mitchell,
September 1. South Carolina--Mount Pleasant, August 30.
Georgia--Savannah, August 28. Florida--Coconut Grove, August 29.
Cuba--Cienfuegos, September 2. Dominican Republic--El Río, October 5.
Puerto Rico--Las Marías, October 12.

_Casual records._--On the Farallon Islands, Calif., a specimen was found
dead on November 17, 1886; it had been previously observed for three
weeks. In New Mexico a specimen was taken at Gallinas Mountain on
October 8, 1904, and on October 9, 1938 another was collected in Milk
Ranch Canyon near Fort Wingate. In Bermuda a specimen was collected
October 2, 1902; and it is considered a rare winter visitor. An
individual spending the winter at a feeding stand in the suburbs of
Washington, D. C., was observed closely from December 22, 1930, to
January 16, 1931.

At sea the black-throated blue warbler has been observed on October 27,
1921, 12 hours run out from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, toward New York; and
on March 29, 1918, in the Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Sabine Pass,

_Destruction at lighthouses._--Lighthouses with fixed white lights have
caused considerable destruction of bird life during migration and the
black-throated blue warbler seems to have been especially lured to those
in southern Florida. Records were received from several of these
lighthouses over a period of 5 or 6 years. Those from Sombrero Key are
most detailed and give an interesting picture of migration at that
point, since they include date, weather conditions, number of birds that
struck, number killed, and hours during which the birds struck the

Comparatively fewer birds struck the light in spring than in fall. The
spring dates are from March 9 to May 29; but in 4 years birds are
reported to have struck the light only on 24 nights and 4 individuals is
the greatest number reported.

In the fall, the records extend from September 3 to December 5, the
heaviest nights being from the middle of September to late October. In
two different years birds struck the light on 19 nights in two months.
The greatest number in one night was 400 with 56 killed. In one of those
years 1146 birds struck the light; of these 193 were killed. It was not
only on stormy nights that the birds were attracted, as 130 struck and
15 were killed on a night described as calm and dark. Sometimes they
kept striking all night, but on others the flight seems to have been
concentrated, as when 300 birds struck in 3-1/2 hours. On a few
occasions the mortality was as high as one-third of the birds that

On the night of January 26, 1886, two birds struck the light. These were
either wintering birds or extremely early migrants.

_Egg dates._--Massachusetts: 6 records, May 28 to July 5; 3 records,
June 2 to 8.

New Hampshire: 17 records, June 3 to 22; 9 records, June 10 to 15.

New York: 51 records, May 29 to June 20; 37 records, June 3 to 12,
indicating the height of the season.

Pennsylvania: 57 records, May 25 to June 26; 32 records, May 30 to June

North Carolina: 10 records, May 5 to June 22; 6 records, June 4 to 11.

Virginia: 19 records, May 26 to June 18; 14 records, May 27 to June 4





This local race of the black-throated blue warbler, breeding in the
southern Alleghenies, was named by Dr. Elliott Coues (1897) in honor of
its discoverer and original describer, John S. Cairns of Weaverville,
N.C. Dr. Coues, at that time, mentioned only the characters of the male,
but those of the female are fully as well, perhaps more satisfactorily,
marked than those of the male. Ridgway (1902) describes both very well
and concisely as follows:

"Similar to _D. c. caerulescens_, but adult male darker above,
especially the pileum, which is not lighter blue than the back, the
latter usually more or less spotted or clouded with black, sometimes
chiefly black, the pileum sometimes streaked with black; adult female
darker and duller olive above and less yellowish beneath, with the
olive of flanks darker and more strongly contrasted with the pale
olive-yellowish of abdomen." In discussing its distribution, he was
unable to define its breeding range with any degree of accuracy; and
adds in a footnote: "On the whole, the form is not a very satisfactory
one, one of the two characters on which it was based (smaller size)
failing altogether (_D. c. cairnsi_ averaging slightly larger, in fact,
than _D. c. caerulescens_), and the other only partially so, since many
specimens of _D. c. cairnsi_ have little if any black on the back, while
many of _D. c. caerulescens_ have quite as much as the average amount
shown in _D. c. cairnsi_."

The 1931 A. O. U. Check-List gives the breeding range of _cairnsi_ as
from Maryland to Georgia, but no definite line can be drawn; birds from
southern Pennsylvania and Maryland, and perhaps the Virginias, are
variably intermediate in their characters, and specimens can be found
that are referable to either one or the other form.

Before this race had been separated from the northern form, Cairns
(1896) wrote of its haunts:

High up on the heavily timbered mountain ranges of western North
Carolina is the summer home of the Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Here in precipitous ravines, amid tangled vines and moss-covered logs,
where the sun's rays never penetrate the rank vegetation and the air is
always cool, dwells the happy little creature, filling the woods from
dawn to twilight with its song. * * *

These birds are a local race; breeding from one generation to another.
They arrive from the south nearly ten days earlier than those that pass
through the valleys on their northward migration. It is common to
observe migrants through the valleys while breeders on the higher
mountains are already nest-building and rearing their young.

This statement agrees with Professor Cooke's (1904) later data, and
with his statement: "The species is one of the few that appear in the
mountains earlier than on the plains, and the case seems to sustain the
theory that the individuals of a species that breed farthest south are
the first to migrate in the spring."

_Nesting._--Cairns (1896) writes on this subject:

Nesting begins in May and continues until the end of June. The nests are
placed in various shrubs, such as laurel, wild gooseberry, and chestnut,
but the blue cohosh or papoose-root (_Caulophyllum thalictroides_) seems
to be the favorite. These thick weeds grow rapidly to a height of from
three to five feet, entirely hiding the ground, and thus afford the
birds considerable protection. * * * The nests are never placed over
three feet from the ground; usually about eighteen inches; one I
examined was only six inches. * * *

The nests show little variation in their construction, though some are
more substantially built than others. Exteriorly they are composed of
rhododendron or grapevine bark, interwoven with birch-bark, moss,
spider-webs, and occasionally bits of rotten wood. The interior is
neatly lined with hair-like moss, resembling fine black roots, mixed
with a few sprays of bright red moss, forming a strikingly beautiful
contrast to the pearly eggs. The female gathers all the materials, and
builds rapidly, usually completing a nest in from four to six days if
the weather is favorable. She is usually accompanied by the male, which,
however, does not assist her in any way.

Bruce P. Tyler of Johnson City, Tenn., has sent me some fine photographs
(pl. 31) of the nests of this warbler, and says in his notes: "The
Cairns warbler is found breeding in May, and later, on the southerly
slope of Beech Mountain, just across the Tennessee line in North
Carolina, at an elevation of 4,800 to 5,200 feet above sea level. The
nest is built in small upright saplings or sprouts, 3 to 4 feet above
the ground, and is constructed of shredded bark from the dying chestnut
trees, rotten wood, etc., bound together with spiders' webs, and lined
with fern rootlets and fine grass."

Thomas D. Burleigh (1927a) records four nests found, during May and
June, on the slopes of Brasstown Bald in the northeastern part of
Georgia: Two of these were in laurel bushes, 2 and 2-1/2 feet from the
ground; another was 2 feet up in the fork of a small viburnum; and the
fourth was 5 feet from the ground, "saddled near the end of a drooping
limb of a rhododendron at the base of a large yellow birch well up the
mountainside." A nest in my collection was taken by H. H. Bailey in
Giles County, Va., at an elevation of 4,000 feet, on May 22, 1914; it
was placed in a horsechestnut sprout alongside of a road, 1 foot above
the ground. This and another nest before me are very similar to those
described above.

_Eggs._--The 3 or 4 eggs laid by Cairn's warbler are practically
indistinguishable from those of the black-throated blue warbler. The
measurements of 30 eggs average 17.3 by 12.7 millimeters; the eggs
showing the four extremes measure =19.0= by 13.0, 17.9 by =13.4=, and
=16.0= by =12.0= millimeters (Harris).



PLATES 31-33


We used to call this the yellow-rumped warbler, a none too distinctive
name, as other warblers have yellow rumps. Another early and slightly
better name, "yellow-crowned wood warbler," reflected the scientific
name _coronata_ and was based on the old Edwards name "golden-crowned
fly-catcher." The present name, Eastern myrtle warbler, comes from its
fondness for the berries of the waxmyrtle (_Myrica cerifera_); and in
the south, where it is common in winter, it is often called the

Next to the yellow warbler, this is probably the best known of the wood
warblers and is about the second one of the group that the novice learns
to recognize. All through the eastern United States this is by far the
most abundant warbler on both migrations, being about the first to
arrive in the spring and the last to leave in the fall, often remaining
all winter nearly up to the southern limits of its breeding range. It is
a large, conspicuous warbler, not at all shy, and is to be found almost
anywhere, often in enormous numbers. The breeding range of the species
is one of the most extensive, extending from the tree limit in Alaska
and northern Canada down through the coniferous forests into the
northern tier of States, and even farther south in the mountains. Its
winter range is still more extensive. It spends the winter farther
north than any other wood warbler, although more or less sparingly and
irregularly in the northern States, and its range extends through the
Bahamas, the northern West Indies, Mexico, and Central America to
Panamá. There is no wonder that it is well known. But neither Wilson,
Audubon, nor Nuttall ever found its nest.

_Spring._--Professor Cooke (1904) writes:

The myrtle warbler is one of the first migrants to move northward. A
large flight struck the Alligator Reef lighthouse February 23, 1892, and
some 60 birds struck the Sombrero Key lighthouse March 3, 1889. By the
middle of March migration is well under way over all the winter range,
and the foremost birds keep close behind the disappearance of frost.
* * * By the last of March all the myrtle warblers have departed from
Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. The latest recorded date of
striking of this species at any of the Florida lighthouses is April 3,
1889. By the middle of the month the latest northbound birds have left
southern Florida. * * * Most of the migrants cross the Rio Grande into
Texas about the middle of March, and it is the middle of April before
the last have passed north.

Charles L. Whittle (1922) witnessed a heavy migration of myrtle warblers
along the coastal islands of South Carolina on March 4, 1920, that
seemed to have been influenced largely by the presence of the waxmyrtle
(_Myrica cerifera_). He says:

Perhaps half a mile from the northeast end of Sullivan Island the belt
of waxmyrtle trees narrows to a width, measured northwest and southeast,
of about three hundred feet. Here, near a seashore resort, a road had
been recently cut across the belt of waxmyrtle trees at right angles to
the sand bar. Streams of warblers flying along the shore northeasterly
from Folly and Morris Islands, just south of the entrance to Charleston
harbor, dropped to the land and converged at the southwest end of the
mantle of myrtle trees and passed across the open swath cut for the new
road. Posting ourselves here we counted the birds moving northeast,
minute by minute as they passed the opening, for half an hour. The
flight was continuous, many of the birds lighting on the ground and
trees from time to time, and the number crossing per minute varied from
twenty to two hundred, and accordingly averaged about one hundred per
minute. As far as we could judge the number was no greater than it had
been all the time since our arrival at the shore. Taking, therefore, the
average at one hundred per minute, 24,000 Myrtle Warblers passed
northward between nine in the morning and one in the afternoon. Not only
so, but additional warblers passed close by both to the east and to the
west of the stream of birds under observation. No doubt also the
migration began prior to nine in the morning and did not cease at one in
the afternoon.

He points out that the northern species of myrtle, or bayberry (_Myrica
pensylvanica_), extends all along the coast from New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia to Florida; and he suggests that if these warblers prefer to
migrate along a coastal route where these myrtles reach their maximum
development and where the climate may be milder than at higher
elevations inland, it may explain why they generally arrive in New
Brunswick a week earlier than in Pennsylvania.

Milton P. Skinner (1928) says that, in the North Carolina sandhills,
"early in March the movement becomes conspicuous, and great numbers of
these warblers are then seen constantly moving through the forests and
across the fields in steady streams, flitting about a few minutes, and
then passing on to the northeast. These movements are near the ground,
or among the tree trunks, but at other times the birds are above the
tallest trees. The general direction is from the southwest to the
northeast, with fifty to a hundred warblers passing over a field each
hour of every day for at least two weeks."

At Buckeye Lake, Ohio, according to Milton B. Trautman (1940)--

No warbler species migrated through the area in such consistently large
numbers as did the Myrtle Warbler, and none had a more prolonged spring
or fall migration. The first spring transients, mostly brilliant colored
males, were generally seen between April 12 and 20. Thereafter the
number of individuals increased rapidly, and from May 1 to May 5 between
100 and 200 birds, mostly males, could generally be daily noted. A
marked decrease usually followed this migration wave. Between May 10 and
18, during the period of maximum numbers for most warbler species, there
was a second large wave and then 150 to 500, mostly females and young
males, were observed daily. A drastic decline in numbers took place
shortly after May 18, and by May 23 few or none remained.

The migration is about the same in Massachusetts. The birds come in
waves, the adult males preceding the females. We usually see the first
arrivals about the middle of April, drifting through the leafless
tree-tops in the tall deciduous woods where we look for hawks' nests; in
their brilliant new plumage with gleaming yellow patches they are easily
recognized as myrtle warblers, even in the tops of the 60-foot trees.
Mr. Forbush (1929) gives this picture of the later waves:

In the latter days of April or very early in May when the south wind
blows, when houstonias and violets begin to bloom on sunny southern
slopes, when the wild cherry and apple trees and some of the birches,
sumacs and the shrubbery in sheltered sunny nooks begin to put out a
misty greenery of tiny leaflets, then we may look for the Myrtle
Warblers, the males lovely in their nuptial dress of blue-gray, black,
white and lemon-yellow. Then they may be found fluttering about in
sheltered bushy bogs, catching the early insects that dance in the
sunshine along the water-side. All through early May they move
northward, or westward toward the mountains, migrating by day or night
indifferently as the case may be.

Soon most of them have passed beyond our borders and reached their
summer homes in the coniferous forests of the Canadian Zone, the first
of the family to come, close on the heels of retreating winter and while
frost and snow still linger in the northern woods.

_Courtship._--The courtship of the myrtle warbler must be a very pretty
performance. Two brief accounts of it have been published: "As summer
approaches the males begin their courtship of the females, following
them about and displaying their beauties by fluffing out the feathers of
their sides, raising their wings and erecting the feathers of the
crown, so as to exhibit to the full their beautiful black and yellow
markings. After much time spent in courting they mate, and at once look
about for a nesting place" (Forbush, 1929). Males seeking mates "made
advances to the female contingency, hopping from twig to twig with
outspread wings, chipping and fluttering, now repulsed by the fair one,
and now accepted by another one to whom advances were made, to finally
spend a few days in a favorable spot and begin nest building" (Knight,

_Nesting._--On August 1, 1907, at Clarkes Harbor, Nova Scotia, I found
the first and only nest of the myrtle warbler that I have ever seen; it
was about 15 feet from the ground on a horizontal branch of a large
spruce tree, about 5 feet out from the trunk, and contained three young
birds that were nearly fully feathered. Robie W. Tufts says in his Nova
Scotia notes: "I have seen these nests built at varying heights from 5
to 50 feet high. One found on June 6, 1919, contained four slightly
incubated eggs. It was placed close to the stem of a pine tree, near the
top, about 50 feet up. My field experiences tend to support the theory
that these birds normally raise two broods a year." He found one nest
built in an apple tree in an orchard, of which he says: "Of the large
number of nests of this species I have examined, this is the only one
not built in a conifer."

There are two Nova Scotia nests of the myrtle warbler in the Thayer
collection in Cambridge, both taken by H. F. Tufts. They are slightly
different in composition and structure, but are probably fairly typical
of the species. One, found saddled on a spruce limb 10 feet from the
ground, is rather bulky and loosely built; the foundation and sides are
made of fine coniferous twigs mixed on the bottom with grasses and
rootlets and around the rim firmly interwoven with black horsehair, or
perhaps moose hair, and finer rootlets; the cup is smoothly lined with
finer hair and feathers. Externally it measures, roughly, 4 by 5 inches
in diameter and about 2 inches in height; the cup is about 2 inches in
diameter and 1-3/4 inches deep. The other, a very pretty nest found 8
feet up in a small spruce, close to the trunk, is more firmly and
compactly built; the base and sides are made up mainly of green mosses
and a few gray lichens mixed with fine twigs and a few fine grasses, all
firmly interwoven; internally the cup is smoothly lined with fine black
and white hairs on top of a few feathers. Externally it measures 2-1/4
inches in height and 3 by 3-1/2 inches in diameter; the cup is 2 inches
in diameter and about 1-1/2 inches deep.

Of nestings in Maine, Knight (1908) says: "As soon as nest building
begins, the favorite locality selected is a thicket of evergreen trees
near the highway, some open pasture containing a few clumps of scattered
evergreens, small thickets of evergreens along the banks of some stream
or river or about the shore of a pond or lake, or a row of trees about
some country dwelling or in an orchard. In the vast majority of cases an
evergreen tree is selected as a nesting site, though occasionally some
hardwood tree, such as maple, apple or birch, may be taken. A majority
of nests seem to be placed in cedar trees, with fir and spruce following
as close second choices."

Forbush (1929) mentions two Massachusetts nests in tall white pines. A
nest studied by Mrs. Nice (1930a), at Pelham, Mass., was "six feet up in
a small red cedar on a branch next to the trunk. It was a rather shallow
affair, composed of cedar twigs and bark, plant fibers, a piece of
string and pine needles, and was lined with a few horse hairs and many
Ruffed Grouse feathers."

Dr. Paul Harrington has sent me his notes based on the study of 44 nests
of the myrtle warbler in Simcoe County, Ontario. He says that the white
pine is generally chosen as a nesting tree, the nests being placed from
6 to 40 feet up, averaging 15 feet; "28 nests were built on horizontal
limbs about two-thirds out from the trunk, but none at the outermost
end. They were conspicuous from below but not from above, as clumps of
needles overhung them in such a way as to afford good protection." Of
the remainder, 2 were built in the top clump of needles in young trees;
5 were in small spruces, the lowest 3 feet, the highest 15, and all on
horizontal limbs, 3 near the trunk and 2 halfway out on the limb; 5 were
about 15 feet up in crotches of small cedars; 3 were found in red pines,
in the outermost clumps of needles 10 to 15 feet from the ground; and 1
nest was 6 feet up in a small balsam. He says that the nest is lined
thickly with feathers and a few hairs. "The feathers are so placed that,
as well as lining the nest, they form a screen over the inside when the
bird is not sitting. This is done by the shafts of the feathers being
woven or imbedded into the inside of the nest and the vane lying free."
At Petawa he found these birds nesting in small jack pines.

Dr. F. A. E. Starr, in his notes from northern Ontario, also says that
any conifers are suitable nesting sites: "I have found only one
exception to the use of a conifer. This nest was built in a hawthorn,
and when I collected the nest, the birds moved to a cedar." A. D.
Henderson writes to me: "The myrtle warbler is a fairly numerous summer
resident at Belvedere, Alberta, and in the Fort Assiniboine District. It
nests mainly in the muskegs in tamarack and spruce trees, but
occasionally in deciduous trees close to a muskeg." The nests are mostly
from 10 to 15 feet up. One nest was in a jack pine, "in a bunchy growth
at the end of a limb." Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway (1874) state that
MacFarlane found nests on the ground in the Anderson River region.

_Eggs._--Most observers agree that four or five eggs form the usual set
for the myrtle warbler. Tufts (MS.) says that "five eggs are more
commonly found than four." Dr. Starr says in his notes that "four eggs
are rarely laid, two and three being the usual numbers, while sometimes
only one is laid, along with those of the cowbird." This is probably an
abnormal situation in which the cowbird fills the nest with its own
eggs, leaving little room for those of the warbler.

The eggs are ovate to short ovate and slightly glossy. The ground color
is creamy white and is speckled, spotted, or blotched with "auburn,"
"argus brown," "Brussels brown," "chestnut brown," or "cinnamon-brown,"
with undermarks of "light brownish drab," "vinaceous gray," or "purplish
gray." Generally the spots are concentrated at the large end, forming a
wreath, but some are marked all over and may also have a few scrawls of
blackish brown. I think the handsomest are those having the rich creamy
white ground almost immaculate except for a solid wreath, around the
large end, of spots and blotches of the browns overlapping and
intermingled with the undertones of gray, so that they resemble somewhat
the eggs of the wood pewee. On lightly marked eggs the drab or gray
spots are the most prominent. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.5
by 13.3 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =20.3=
by 13.2, 17.9 by =14.8=, =14.8= by 12.9, and 16.0 by =12.4= millimeters

_Young._--The incubation period for the myrtle warbler is from 12 to 13
days and the young remain in the nest normally from 12 to 14 days.
Incubating the eggs and brooding the young is apparently done entirely
by the female, but both parents are active in feeding the young and in
cleaning the nest. Mrs. Nice (1930a), with the help of Miss Lucille
Baker, watched a nest containing young for a total of 19 hours, over a
period of 6 days. On the first day the female brooded 25 percent of the
time, but less later on; the brooding periods averaged 9 minutes.

A great deal of her energy was expended in delousing the nest--
thirty-six minutes on July 28 and seventy-four minutes during the
forenoon of the next day, but after that there was little trouble. Once,
during thirteen minutes she made over 250 captures, all of which she
ate. * * *

The male brought food sixty times, the female forty-eight times, so that
the young were fed once in 10.9 minutes. About one-third of the time the
male brought two insects, while the female did so on about one-sixth of
her trips. During the fourteen hours of observation, the male brought
food once In every nineteen minutes, the female once in every
twenty-eight minutes. During the last five and one-half hours, the male
brought food once in twenty-two minutes, the female once In eighteen
minutes. * * *

Excreta were eaten by the female through July 29, but she carried one
away at 7:05 P. M., July 28. She ate twelve sacs and carried eleven; her
mate carried twenty-five and ate one. * * * He picked lice off his legs
and gave them to the babies.

Mr. Knight (1908) says: "The female does most of the work of incubation,
but on very rare and exceptional occasions I have found the male bird
incubating and even engaged in song while on the nest. * * * The natal
down rapidly dries and fluffs out on the young birds and is sepia-brown
in color. At the end of six to seven days pin feathers begin to appear,
and by the twelfth to fourteenth day the young are well advanced in
their juvenal plumage and able to scramble out of the nest. Two to three
days after leaving the nest they are able to essay short flights."

_Plumages._--Mr. Knight (1908) refers to the natal down as sepia-brown.
Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the juvenal plumage, in which the sexes are
alike, as "above, the feathers centrally dull black, edged with drab and
buffy brown, producing a streaked effect. Below, much whiter but
similarly streaked, a tinge of pale primrose-yellow on the abdomen.
Wings and tail dull black, edged with drab, palest on primaries and
outer rectrices. Two very indistinct buffy white wing bands. Upper and
lower eyelids with dull white spots."

The first winter plumage is acquired by a partial postjuvenal molt in
August, which involves the contour plumage and the wing coverts, but not
the rest of the wings or the tail. This plumage is entirely different
from the juvenal and the sexes are only slightly differentiated. Dr.
Dwight (1900) describes the young male as "above, sepia-brown, grayer on
the back and obscurely streaked with black, the rump and a concealed
crown spot lemon-yellow, the upper tail coverts black, broadly edged
with plumbeous gray. Wing coverts black, plumbeous edged and tipped with
white tinged with wood-brown forming two wing bands. Below, dull white,
washed with pale buff on the throat and sides and obscurely streaked on
the breast and sides with black, veiled by whitish edgings. Sides of
breast with dull yellow patches. Incomplete orbital ring and faintly
indicated superciliary stripe white or buffy." He says of the young
female: "The black streaking of this dress is less obvious both above
and below than in the male, the plumage everywhere is browner, and the
crown patch very obscure."

The extensive prenuptial molt begins early, usually in March, before the
birds have left their winter quarters; a few new feathers may be assumed
even in late February but most of the molt occurs in April while the
birds are migrating; it is, however, generally completed by the time the
birds have reached their breeding grounds. Dr. Dwight (1900) says this
molt "involves most of the body plumage and wing coverts, occasionally a
tertiary but not the rest of the wings nor the tail. The black and gray
of the upper surface, the white wing bars and the yellow crown and rump
are new, some of the old upper tail coverts and a part of the feathers
of the abdomen and crissum being retained in many cases, those of the
back and elsewhere less often. Young and old become practically
indistinguishable although the young usually have browner and more worn
wings and tails, obvious in the primary coverts, but the differences
are not absolute." In the female, "the first nuptial plumage is assumed
by a restricted moult, leaving behind many brown feathers. The brown
feathers of the lores and auriculars are assumed by moult."

The adult winter plumage is acquired by a complete postnuptial molt,
beginning late in July. In the male, this "differs little from the first
winter dress, but the wings and tail are blacker with brighter gray
edgings, noticeable especially in the primary coverts. The back is
usually grayer and the lower parts whiter, with broader streakings above
and below." In the female there are similar differences, the adult
winter female resembling the young male at that season. Adults have a
complete postnuptial molt in July and a prenuptial molt as in the young

_Food._--Forbush (1929) sums up the food of this warbler very well as

The Myrtle Warbler is one of the few warblers that can subsist for long
periods upon berries and seeds, although undoubtedly it prefers insects
when it can get them. Along the coast during the milder winters there
are many flies rising from the seaweed in sheltered spots on mild days
even in January, and there are eggs of plant-lice and some hibernating
insects to be found on the trees, but the principal food of the Myrtle
Warbler in New England during the inclement season is the bayberry. They
can exist, however, on the berries of the Virginia juniper or red cedar
and these seem to form their principal food when wintering in the
interior; berries of the Virginia creeper or woodbine, those of
viburnums, honeysuckle, mountain ash, poison ivy, spikenard and dogwoods
also serve to eke out the birds' bill of fare. In the maple sugar
orchards in early spring they occasionally drink sweet sap from the
trees. In the southern Atlantic states they take palmetto berries. North
and south they also eat some seeds, particularly those of sunflower and
goldenrod. During spring and summer they destroy thousands of
caterpillars, small grubs and the larvae of saw-flies and various
insects, leaf-beetles, dark-beetles, weevils, wood-borers, ants, scale
insects, plant-lice and their eggs, including the woolly apple-tree
aphis and the the common apple-leaf plant-louse, also grasshoppers and
locusts, bugs, house-flies and other flies including caddice-flies,
crane-flies, calcid-flies, ichneumon-flies and gnats, also spiders.

To the above comprehensive list there is little to be added, although
wild cranberries and the berries of the poison sumac might have been
included. Myrtle warblers are doubtless instrumental in spreading the
seeds of poisonous species of _Rhus_, which is not to their credit; they
also help to disseminate the red cedar, as they digest only the outer
covering of these three and the bayberries. These warblers are often
seen on the beaches and sand dunes eating the seeds of the beachgrass,
or in open fields feeding on grass seed and doubtless various weed
seeds. They frequent the fresh holes bored by sapsuckers to drink the
flowing sap and eat the insects that are attracted to it. In Florida, in
winter, they drink the juice of fallen oranges in the groves and even
the broken oranges on the trees.

They are somewhat expert as flycatchers, taking mosquitoes and gnats in
the air. Knight (1908) writes: "During the fall months they enter the
city gardens and orchards, climb over the roofs and along the gutters of
houses, peering into every nook and cranny. They hover on beating wings
about such crannies of the clapboards and finish where they may have
spied some delicious, big fat spider, chrysalis or other delectable
morsel, and such finds are speedily devoured. Now peering, now hovering,
and now springing into the air after some winged insect, they stop about
a building for a few hours or days, slowly but surely retreating

_Behavior._--Much of the behavior of this friendly little bird has been
referred to in connection with its activities about our homes and
gardens and its nesting habits. Tilford Moore tells me that "these birds
seem to have a tendency toward 'creeperism,' in that they are often seen
hanging to the bark of a vertical trunk or branch, and are usually on
the larger branches rather than among the smaller twigs. They often
flutter a lot when hanging to the bark." And Wendell Taber sends me this
note: "On May 5, 1940, Richard Stackpole and I watched a flock in West
Newbury, Mass. The birds were running about on the grass near a stream.
Again, they would alight at the base of a tree and run up it several
feet. I think all the birds that performed this feat were females. They
were most deceptive, and we kept thinking we were seeing brown creepers
until we put field glasses on them."

William Brewster (1938) writes of the behavior of a female about her
nest, 35 feet from the ground in a hemlock: "The female Yellow-rump was
sitting and for some time she absolutely refused to leave her eggs.
Watrous first shook the branch and then with a long stick poked and
shook smartly the twigs within an inch or two of her head. At length she
hopped out of the nest and stood for a moment or more on its rim looking
about her. Then she fluttered down towards the ground with quivering
wings and wide spread tail, moving slowly and alighting several times on
a branch or cluster of twigs where she would lie prostrate for a moment
beating her wings feebly and simulating the movements of a wounded or
otherwise disabled bird."

Dr. Stone (1937) describes the flight of the myrtle warbler very well:

We soon learn to identify their rather jerky flight as they rise from
the bushes, and with a series of short wing flips turn now to the right,
now to the left, in their zigzag progress, rising somewhat with the
beats, and falling in the intervals. Sometimes a bird will go but a
short distance, flitting from bush to bush, while others will climb
higher and higher in the air, drifting in their jerky way across the sky
like wind-blown leaves. * * *

As soon as a Myrtlebird alights on a bush there is a short, sharp flip
of tin tail, not a seesaw action, but one involving the body as well,
and as it comes to rest the head is drawn in and the plumage ruffled up
making the outline more nearly globular, while the wings are dropped
slightly so that their tips are a little below the base of the tail.

Francis H. Allen has sent me the following notes on the behavior of this
species: "Aug. 27, 1915, Mt. Sunapee, N. H. On the summit of the
mountain an immature myrtle warbler, very tame, flitted and hopped about
on the ground, over moss and rocks, and in bushes and trees, feeding
industriously on small insects. It seemed to pay no attention to my
companion and me, and at one time hopped between us when we stood about
6 feet apart, and came within 2 feet of my outstretched hand as I held a
crumb out towards it. I followed it about a little and found it quite
fearless, except when I made a sudden movement. The bird could fly well
and seemed perfectly well able to take care of itself.

"July 5, 1931, Mt. Whiteface, N. H. One or more were seen flying up
fifty or a hundred feet above the tops of the low spruces and darting
about up there after insects--doubtless the black flies which were
abundant on the summit.

"Oct. 25, 1941, Plymouth, Mass. A sizable flock were feeding actively,
flying back and forth across the narrow Eel River, feeding among
foliage, catching flies and eating bayberries. One came within 6 feet of
me and calmly ate bayberry after bayberry."

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders contributes the following account of the
songs: "The songs of the myrtle warbler show some differences from those
heard from birds on migration or on the breeding grounds. The song in
general is a series of short, rapid notes in a rather colorless simple,
but musical quality. The number of notes, in my 41 records, varies from
7 to 21 and averages about 12. The songs heard on migration, however,
average 11 while those on the breeding grounds average 14.

"The songs heard on migration are quite indefinite in form; the pitch
rises and falls irregularly, and no two songs are much alike. An
individual bird may sing many variations, each song it sings often being
a little different from the others. The notes, however, are all about
the same length and loudness, accented notes that stand out from the
others being rare. This song shows indications of a somewhat primitive

"The song on the breeding grounds is somewhat more definite; the notes
are often joined in 2-note phrases, the first note of each phrase higher
in pitch than the second and each phrase successively higher, so that
the song trends upward in pitch. This is true of 10 of my 13 records of
the song on the breeding grounds in the Adirondacks. The other 3 have a
slight downward trend. In addition to the more regular form, these songs
have a somewhat brighter, livelier, and more musical sound than those
heard on migration.

"Songs of this species vary from 1 to 2-4/5 seconds in length. There are
usually about seven notes per second. Only 3 of my records show any
irregularity in the time of the notes, that is having some notes that
are shorter or longer than the others. Pitch of the songs varies from
F´´´ to E´´´´, a half tone less than an octave. Single songs vary from
one to four and a half tones, averaging about two and a half tones; only
5 records are greater in range, and only 16 are less, nearly half of the
records having the average range.

"Since the myrtle warbler winters in Connecticut, I am able to get the
first dates of singing. In 30 years of records the average date is April
13; the earliest April 2, 1923, and the latest April 25, 1920. In the
Adirondacks the last date of singing noted was July 31, 1926.

"The call-note, _tchick_, is louder than in most warblers. I found it
pitched on D´´. Another note is a fainter _tseet tseet_, usually doubled
and pitched on F-sharp´´´."

Francis H. Allen (MS.) describes the song in a different way as follows:

"The only syllabifications I find in my notes are of a bird heard at
West Bridgewater, Vt., June 19, 1907, which sang _whee whee whee whee
whee whee whee whee hew hew_, sometimes with three or even four _hews_
at the end and sometimes with only one; and one of a bird at South
Tamworth, N. H., July 23, 1942, whose song consisted of two trills,
_ching ching ching ching ching weedle weedle weet_.

"The ordinary call-note is a hoarse _chep_, easily distinguished from
the call of any other New England warbler. I have also heard
occasionally a slight _tsip_ or _tsit_, suggesting a chickadee. The
feeding call of the young out of the nest is a rapid succession of
several explosive _chips_ or _pits_ with a rolling quality--a sort of
chatter or chippering."

On June 7, 1900, in Washington County, Maine, I recorded the song of the
myrtle warbler as _wheedle wheedle wheedle wheedle wheedle_, repeated
five to seven times so rapidly as to be hard to count and all on one
key, usually ending abruptly but occasionally in a little trill.

Few writers have accorded the song of the myrtle warbler much praise,
but Bradford Torrey (1885) pays it this tribute: "For music to be heard
constantly, right under one's window, it could scarcely be improved:
sweet, brief, and remarkably unobstrusive, without sharpness or
emphasis; a trill not altogether unlike the pine-creeping warbler's, but
less matter-of-fact and business-like. I used to listen to it before I
rose in the morning, and it was to be heard at intervals all day long."

_Field marks._--The male myrtle warbler in spring plumage is easily
recognized at a considerable distance in its blue-gray, black, and white
plumage, offset by conspicuous patches of bright yellow on rump, sides,
and crown, and by the black sides and cheeks. The female is much duller
and browner, the yellow being less conspicuous and the black cheeks
lacking. Young birds and fall adults are much like the female, but the
yellow rump, showing plainly as the bird flies away from the observer,
will distinguish the species at any season or age.

_Enemies._--So much of the breeding range of the myrtle warbler is
beyond the normal breeding range of the cowbirds that, until recently,
it was supposed to be largely free from the imposition of this parasite.
When Dr. Friedmann (1929) published his book on the cowbirds he had only
three records of such molestation, but more have turned up since,
particularly in the Middle West where the ranges of the two species
overlap considerably. Dr. Paul Harrington writes to me from Toronto:
"Sixty-five percent of the nests examined contained eggs or young of the
cowbird; it would not be exaggerating to say that two-thirds of the
initial nests are parasitized. The egg or eggs of the cowbird are often
deposited before the nest is completed, leading to many a deserted nest.
Twice I have found a cowbird's egg imbedded, as so often happens in the
yellow warbler's nest, but in both cases yet another was in the nest
with the owner's. Twelve percent of the nests with eggs of the cowbird
were deserted, but none in which the owner's eggs were also present.
Generally but one of the parasite's eggs was found, occasionally two and
rarely three."

Dr. F. A. E. Starr says in his notes from Ontario: "Occasionally, when a
cowbird usurps a nest, the birds continue building till the cowbird's
egg is imbedded. This is all in vain, however, as out of 30 nests, I
have yet to find one which did not contain from one to three eggs of the
cowbird." And A. D. Henderson mentions in his notes from Belvedere,
Alberta, a nest that held five eggs of the myrtle warbler and one egg of
the Nevada cowbird, and another nestful consisting of four eggs of the
warbler and two of the cowbird. Probably very few young of the warbler
are likely to survive in nests with young cowbirds, which means that
this parasite must seriously interfere with the normal increase in the
warbler population.

Harold S. Peters (1936) lists two lice, two flies, and two mites as
external parasites on the myrtle warbler.

_Fall._--The myrtle warbler is one of the latest of its family to move
southward and is also one of the most leisurely in migration; the
migration covers practically the whole of September and October and much
of November, the earliest arrivals sometimes reaching the Gulf States
before the last ones have left Canada. Abundant in the spring, it is
much more so in the fall, when it can often be seen in enormous numbers.
As the birds drift along southward, many stop along the way where food
is abundant and some spend the winter at no great distance from the
southern limits of the breeding range. In Massachusetts, we usually look
for them during the latter half of September or during those golden
October days when woods are ablaze with the gorgeous autumn colors. As
we stroll along the sunny side of the woods on some bright morning after
a frosty night, the air is full of pleasing bird music. The robins, now
wild woodland birds, are twittering or uttering their wild autumn calls
as they drift through the trees; the white-throated and the song
sparrows, from the brushy thickets below, give forth their faint, sweet
notes like soft echoes of their springtime songs; and the myrtle
warblers mingle their distinctive call-notes with these other voices as
they glean for aphids on the birches. In the open grassy fields and weed
patches, too, we find many myrtle warblers associated with the scattered
flocks of juncos and field and chipping sparrows, feeding on the ground.
And later in the fall, we find them in the bayberry patches near the
seacoast, or even on the salt marshes or among the sand dunes with the
Ipswich and savanna sparrows.

Southward along the Atlantic coast the flight is heavy; Dr. Stone (1937)
says that, at Cape May, N. J., "on October 13, 1913, Julian Potter
encountered a great flight of Myrtle Warblers which he estimated at
3,000. * * * October 31, 1920, was a characteristic Myrtle Warbler day.
All day long they were present in abundance. The air seemed full of them
wherever one went. Thousands were flittering here and there in the dense
growth of rusty Indian grass (_Andropogon_), in the bayberry thickets,
in pine woods and in dune thickets."

From their breeding grounds in the northern interior these warblers
continue to drift southward during October, not in compact flocks but
straggling in a continuous stream, some alighting while others are
moving on. In Ohio, according to Trautman (1940), "the numbers continued
to increase rapidly until approximately October 5. Between October 5 and
20 the species was more numerous over the entire land area than it was
at any other season, and thousands were daily present. It was
particularly abundant on Cranberry Island, where it fed upon insects,
cranberries, poison sumac, and other berries. On several occasions an
estimated number between 1000 and 1200 individuals was seen within an
hour on this island. After October 20 there was a rather gradual decline
in numbers. By November 1, comparatively few remained, and in some years
the birds had disappeared."

_Winter._--The myrtle warbler winters abundantly throughout the southern
half of the United States east of the Great Plains, commonly as far
north as southeastern Kansas, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and
northern New Jersey, and less commonly or rarely and irregularly farther
north. It is the only one of the wood warblers that is hardy enough to
brave the rigors of our northern winters amid ice and snow and sometimes
zero temperatures.

Robert Ridgway (1889) writing of its winter habits in southern Illinois,

It may often be sees in midwinter, when the ground is covered with snow,
in the door-yards along with Snowbirds (_Junco hyemalis_), Tree
Sparrows, and other familiar species, gleaning bread crumbs from the
door-steps, or hunting for spiders or other insect tidbits in the nooks
of the garden fence or the crevices in the bark of trees; and at
evening, flying in considerable companies, to the sheltering branches of
the thickest tree tops (preferably evergreens), where they pass the
night. Not infrequently, however, they roost in odd nooks and crannies
about the buildings, or even in holes in the straw- or hay-stacks, in
the barn-yard. A favorite food of this species are the berries of the
Poison-vine (_Rhus toxicodendron_), and during the early part of winter
large numbers of them may be seen wherever vines of this species are

What few myrtle warblers remain in southern Massachusetts are usually to
be found in situations similar to those frequented in late fall,
especially near the coast where there is a good supply of bayberries and
other berries. When this supply is exhausted they move elsewhere, though
they can subsist to some extent on the seeds of the pitch pine, on grass
seed, and on various weed seeds. In New Jersey, they are found in
similar situations. Farther south they are abundant inland as well as on
the coast, living in all kinds of environments--old fields, cultivated
lands, thickets, brushy borders of the woodlands, and in woods of scrub
oaks and pine. They are common to abundant on both coasts of Florida and
in the interior and often come into the orange groves, to feed on the
fallen oranges. A. H. Howell (1932) says: "Not infrequently they may be
found in numbers on the Gulf beaches, or in reeds in the salt marshes of
the coast or in the Everglades. They are partial to the borders of
streams or sloughs, and sometimes venture out on the floating vegetation
in rivers or lakes."

The following is contributed by Dr. Alexander F. Skutch: "In December,
1932, it was vividly brought home to me how widely the myrtle warblers
are spread over the earth during the winter months, and in what varied
climates they dwell. On the ninth, a clear, cold, winter day, I met a
small party of these yellow-rumped birds in a barren field at the edge
of a woods in Maryland. On the twenty-fourth, I watched them fly above
the tatters of melting snow in New Jersey, within view of the
skyscrapers of New York. That afternoon I embarked upon a ship, and a
week later arrived upon a banana plantation in Guatemala, where the air
was balmy and the landscape vividly green, where snow and bleak winds
seemed to belong to another world. Yet here, too, were myrtle warblers,
hundreds of them, feeding in the open pastures and along the roadways,
wherever the vegetation was not too dense, then rising up in compact
flocks, wheeling and dropping together, moving always as though
actuated by a true group spirit. During three days on that plantation, I
met 23 kinds of winter visitants from the North; yet the myrtle warbler
appeared to be the most abundant of them all: certainly, I saw far more
of them than of any other migratory bird; yet this was in part because
they foraged in more exposed places. Of all the warblers I found here,
this was the only species that moved in flocks; for most of the wood
warblers that winter in the Central American lowlands are strict
individualists. It is also significant that of all the 23 species of
wintering birds, this, the most abundant in December, was the only one
then common that I had not recorded from February to June of the same
year, when I passed 4 months studying the birds on that same plantation.

"Although it has been recorded from Central American localities as early
as October and as late as April, the myrtle warbler is certainly most
abundant as a winter visitant from November to March. All my own records
from points in Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica fall within these 5
months. It arrives later and departs earlier than warblers less tolerant
of cold.

"The myrtle warbler winters in a variety of situations. At Puerto
Castilla, on the northern coast of Honduras, I found these warblers
abundant at the end of January, 1931. Here they foraged upon the lawns
between the cottages, hopping rather than walking like water-thrushes,
and when alarmed flew up to rest upon the broad fronds of the coconut
palms that lined the sandy beach. At the other extreme, I have found
them in mountain pastures, rarely as high as 8,500 feet above sea level.
In the highlands, this bird is likely to be confused with the Audubon
warbler, from the mountains of western United States, in similar dull
winter attire. But the Audubon warbler, even at this season, wears five
patches of yellow--on the crown, throat, both sides and rump--while the
myrtle warbler shows only four, lacking that on the throat. The presence
or absence of yellow on the throat is a distinguishing feature.

"At the end of December, 1937, I found myrtle warblers abundant in the
vicinity of Buenos Aires de Osa, a hamlet in the lower Térraba Valley of
Costa Rica, of interest to the bird-watcher because, although lying in a
region covered by the heaviest lowland forest, it is surrounded by
extensive open savannas which support a rather different bird-life. Here
fork-tailed flycatchers were also abundant, roosting by night in some
orange trees behind the padre's house, by day spreading in small flocks
over the savannas, where they perched in the low bushes, only a few feet
above the ground, and darted down to snatch up the insects they
descried. It was surprising to find the myrtle warblers associating
intimately with the flycatchers; just as, in the Guatemalan highlands,
I had found Audubon's warblers flocking with bluebirds. The myrtle
warblers not only foraged about the bushes which served the flycatchers
as watch-towers; but the two kinds of birds, so dissimilar in size and
habits, changed their feeding grounds together. While I sometimes found
the warblers alone, I saw them in company with the fork-tailed
flycatchers too often for the association to be looked upon as
accidental. I could not discover that either warbler or flycatcher
derived any material advantage from the presence of the other. It seemed
to be a case of pure socialibility.

"Central American dates are: Guatemala--Motagua Valley, near Los Amates,
December 31, 1932; Sierra de Tecpán, March 16, 1933; Finca Mocá, January
20-26, 1935; Nebaj (Griscom), April 27; La Primavera (Griscom), April 8.
Honduras--Puerto Castilla, January 27, 1931; Tela (Peters), March 17.
Costa Rica--Vara Blanca, December 13, 1937, to February 28, 1938;
Guayabo (Ridgway and Zeledón), March 18; Carrillo (Underwood), October
2; Guacimo (Carriker), December 4; Las Cañas, Guanacaste, November 21,
1936; El General, January 12, 1936; Buenos Aires de Osa, December 24-30,


_Range._--North America.

_Breeding range._--The myrtle warbler breeds =north= to northern Alaska
(Kobuk River and timberline on the south slope of the Brooks Range);
northern Yukon (La Pierre House); northern Mackenzie (Aklavik; Fort
Anderson; MacTavish Bay, Bear Lake; Lake Hardisty, and Artillery Lake);
northern Manitoba (Lac du Brochet, Cochrane River, and Churchill);
northern Ontario (Moose Factory); southern Labrador (Grand Falls and
Rigolet, possibly Nain and Okkak). =East= to eastern Labrador (Rigolet
and Cartwright); Newfoundland (St. Anthony, Canada Bay, and St. John's);
and Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Island, Sable Island, Halifax, and
Yarmouth). =South= to southern Nova Scotia (Yarmouth); New Brunswick
(Grand Manan); southern Maine (Gouldsboro, Deer Isle, Bath, and Auburn);
New Hampshire (Concord); central and southern Massachusetts (Marlboro,
Webster, and Pelham); southwestern Vermont (Bennington); northern New
York (Falls Pond and Buffalo); rarely northeastern Pennsylvania (Pocono
Lake); accidentally in northern Maryland (Havre de Grace); southern
Ontario (London and Sarnia); northern Michigan (Crawford County and
Douglas Lake); northern Wisconsin (Antigo, probably, Trout Lake,
Namekagon Lake, and Superior); central Minnesota (St. Cloud, Brainerd,
and Bemidji); southern Manitoba (Winnipeg and Aweme); central
Saskatchewan (Flotten Lake and Prince Albert); central Alberta
(Flagstaff, Camrose, Lobstick River, and Wipiti River); northern British
Columbia (Fort St. John, Ingenika River, and Buckley Lake); and
southern Alaska (Admiralty Island, Sitka, Seldovia, and Nushagak).
=West= to western Alaska (Nushagak, Russian Mission, St. Michael, and
the Kobuk River).

_Winter range._--The myrtle warbler winters in two discontinuous areas.
The principal winter home is =north= to central Oklahoma (Oklahoma
City); northern Arkansas (Winslow, Little Rock, and Helena); western
Tennessee (Memphis); southern Illinois (Anna and Mount Carmel); southern
Kentucky (Bowling Green); central Virginia (Lexington); District of
Columbia (Washington); southeastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia);
northern New Jersey (Morristown and Elizabeth); southern Connecticut
(New Haven); Rhode Island (Providence); and northeastern Massachusetts
(Cape Ann). It also occurs in winter irregularly =north= to Holly,
Colo.; Hays and Manhattan, Kan.; Madison, Wis.; Chicago, Ill.; Battle
Creek and Rochester (one banded in January), Mich.; Rochester, N. Y.;
and Portland, Maine. =East= to Massachusetts (Cape Ann) and along the
Atlantic coast to Florida (Miami and Key West); the Bahama Islands
(Little Abaco and Caicos); Dominican Republic (Puerto Plato and
Sánchez); Puerto Rico (San Juan); St. Croix Island; and rarely, Antigua.
=South= to Antigua, northern Colombia, rare or accidental (Santa Marta
region); and Panamá (Pearl Islands). =West= to Panamá (Pearl Islands,
Canal Zone, and Almirante); Costa Rica (El General and Guayabo); eastern
Nicaragua (Greytown and the Río Escondido); northern Honduras (Puerto
Castilla and Lancetilla); western Guatemala (Dueñas and Tecpán); eastern
Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); Veracruz (Orizaba); Tamaulipas (Victoria); Nuevo
León (Monterrey); southwestern Texas (mouth of the Pecos River, Camp
Barkeley, Taylor County, and Fort Worth); and central Oklahoma (Oklahoma

The western winter range is =north= to central Western Oregon (Newport
and Albany). =East= to western Oregon (Albany); central California
(Marysville, Stockton, Mariposa County, Redlands, and Potholes);
southern Arizona (Tucson and Tombstone); and southwestern Sonora
(Guaymas). =South= to southern Sonora. =West= to western Sonora (Guaymas
and the Colorado River delta); western California (San Clementi Island,
Santa Barbara, San Francisco Bay region, and Eureka); and western Oregon
(Coss Bay and Newport).

The species as outlined is divided into two subspecies or geographic
races. The Alaska myrtle warbler (_D. c. hooveri_) breeds from western
Alaska and northwestern Mackenzie to central Alberta and central British
Columbia; the eastern myrtle warbler (_D. c. coronata_) from western
Saskatchewan eastward.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Costa Rica--Guayabo, March 18. El Salvador--Volcán de San Miguel, March
22. Guatemala--Nebaj, April 27. Honduras--Lancetilla, March 17.
Mexico--Valles, San Luis Potosí, May 2. Puerto Rico--Mayagüez, April 8.
Haiti--Port-au-Prince, April 27. Cuba--Habana, April 28. Bahamas--New
Providence, April 2. Florida--Pensacola, May 13. Alabama--Birmingham,
May 8. Georgia--Atlanta, May 20. South Carolina--Greenwood, May 12.
Louisiana--Mansfield, May 2. Mississippi--Oxford, May 8.
Tennessee--Nashville, May 17. Arkansas--Helena, May 18. Texas--Bonham,
May 6. Oklahoma--Norman, May 3.

Early dates of spring arrival are: New York--New York, April 1.
Massachusetts--Lynn, April 11. Vermont--St. Johnsbury, April 12.
Maine--Portland, April 6. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake, April 11. Nova
Scotia--Yarmouth, April 11. Quebec--Hatley, April 22. Newfoundland--St.
Anthony, April 25. Labrador--Cartwright, May 24. Illinois--Chicago,
March 24. Indiana--Bloomington, March 26. Ohio--Youngstown, April 1.
Ontario--Harrow, April 3. Michigan--Sault Ste. Marie, April 9.
Missouri--Columbia, March 27. Iowa--Sigourney, April 3. Wisconsin--New
London, April 1. Minnesota--Minneapolis, April 4. Kansas--Independence,
April 7. Nebraska--Red Cloud, April 1. South Dakota--Brookings, April 7.
North Dakota--Fargo, April 13. Manitoba--Aweme, April 12.
Saskatchewan--Eastend, April 22. Mackenzie--Simpson, May 7. New
Mexico--San Antonio, April 18. Colorado--Colorado Springs, April 17.
Wyoming--Laramie, April 15. Montana--Kirby, April 29. Alberta--Glenevis,
April 14. Washington--Seattle, March 14. British Columbia--Courtenay,
March 31; Atlin, April 21. Yukon--Sheldon Lake, April 26.
Alaska--Wrangell, April 29; Fairbanks, May 7.

Late dates of spring departure of transients are: District of
Columbia--Washington, June 1. Pennsylvania--Warren, June 6.
Illinois--Chicago, June 3. Indiana--Waterloo, June 3. Ohio--Oberlin, May
31. Missouri--Concordia, May 25. Iowa--Grinnell, June 1.
Nebraska--Nenzel, May 27. North Dakota--Argusville, May 30.
California--Red Bluff, May 3. Nevada--Quinn River Crossing, May 21.
Washington--Tacoma, May 3.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia--Atlin, September 19;
Courtenay, October 14. Mackenzie--Nahami River, October 25.
Wyoming--Laramie, November 25. Saskatchewan--Yorkton, October 14.
Manitoba--Brandon, October 31. North Dakota--Argusville, November 15.
South Dakota--Faulkton, November 15. Kansas--Lawrence, November 12.
Minnesota--St. Paul, November 5. Wisconsin--Racine, November 16.
Iowa--Wall Lake, November 15. Missouri--Kansas City, November 16.
Illinois--Murphysboro, November 21. Michigan--Detroit, November 19.
Indiana--Indianapolis, November 20. Ontario--Point Pelee, November 23.
Ohio--Toledo, November 17. Newfoundland--Tompkins, October 4. Prince
Edward Island--North River, October 15. Quebec--Kamouraska, November 9.
New Brunswick--Saint John, November 4. Maine--Portland, November 9. New
Hampshire--Durham, November 4. Massachusetts--Boston, November 27. New
York--Brooklyn, November 22. Pennsylvania--Doylestown, November 29.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Washington--Bellingham, September 28.
Oregon--Thurston, October 5. California--Eureka, October 12.
Wyoming--Yellowstone Park, August 25. North Dakota--Fargo, September 8.
South Dakota--September 15. Nebraska--Fairbury, September 30.
Kansas--Lawrence, September 26. Oklahoma--Oklahoma City, October 12.
Texas--Somerset, October 10. Iowa--Grinnell, September 6. Missouri--St
Louis, September 17. Illinois--Chicago, August 31. Indiana--Hobart,
September 2. Ohio--Austinburg, August 25. Kentucky--Bowling Green,
September 14. Tennessee--Athens, October 3. Arkansas--Rogers, October 4.
Louisiana--Monroe, September 26. Mississippi--Edwards, September 22. New
York--Rhinebeck, August 31. Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh, September 8.
District of Columbia--Washington, September 9. West Virginia--Bluefield,
September 12. Virginia--Naruna, September 22. North Carolina--Mount
Mitchell, September 30. South Carolina--Spartanburg, September 21.
Georgia--Round Oak, October 10. Alabama--Anniston, October 8.
Florida--New Smyrna, October 4. Bahamas--Cay Lobos, November 22.
Cuba--Habana, November 17. Dominican Republic--San Juan, October 1.
Puerto Rico--Mayagüez, December 14. Costa Rica--Carrillo, October 2.

_Banding._--The myrtle warbler comes rather more readily than other
warblers to banding traps, especially in winter, and so has yielded
several records of migration and of longevity for return to the place of
banding. A myrtle warbler banded at Elmhurst, Long Island, on October
19, 1936, was recovered on December 9, 1936, at Awensdaw, S. C. One
banded on October 2, 1932, at Fargo, N. D., was found dead December 5,
1932, at Clarence, La. Another banded at Wilton, N. D., on September 25,
1939, was found in January 1940 at Leola, Ark. One banded on February 2,
1930, at Gastonia, N. C., was shot on December 25, 1930, at Kings Creek,
Cherokee County, S. C.

A banding station at Thomasville, Ga., obtained several records
indicative of the birds' tendency to return to the same wintering place.
Three birds banded in March 1920, were retrapped in February and March
of 1921. One banded February 24, 1921, was retrapped February 5, 12, and
13, 1924, and found dead, apparently of starvation, on the fifteenth. A
myrtle warbler banded on February 28, 1917, was retrapped in March 1920
and several times between March 1 and 17, 1921. It was then at least 5
years old and had made four round trips to the breeding grounds.

Another myrtle warbler banded at Huntington, Long Island, on October 23,
1933, was killed February 1, 1940, at Dunbar, S. C.; it was then at
least 6-1/2 years old.

_Casual records._--At least six specimens of the myrtle warbler have
been collected in Greenland: Fiskenaes, May 21, 1841; Julianehaab, about
1847; Godhavn, July 31, 1878; Nanortalik, May 23, 1880; Agpamiut, in
Sukkertoppen District, October 15, 1931; and Kangea, near Godthaab,
October 28, 1937. A specimen was taken from the stomach of a white
gyrfalcon October 7, 1929, killed near the Post on Southampton Island.
Two specimens have been collected on the Arctic Coast of Alaska: one on
June 3, 1898, at Point Tangent; and one June 4, 1930, near Point Barrow.
A myrtle warbler was collected May 25, 1879, on the northeast coast of
Siberia at latitude 67° N. At sea about 100 miles from Cape Hatteras,
several myrtle warblers were noted on October 16 and 31, 1930.

_Egg dates._--Maine: 16 records, May 26 to June 23; 10 records, June 11
to 20, indicating the height of the season.

New Brunswick: 10 records, June 5 to 28; 6 records, June 13 to 21.

Nova Scotia: 14 records, May 23 to June 21; 7 records, June 3 to 17




The Alaska myrtle warbler is another subspecies that was described many
years ago but only recently admitted to the A. O. U. Check-List. Richard
C. McGregor (1899) described this warbler, from specimens collected in
California, as a western race and named it for his friend Theodore J.
Hoover, who collected the type and placed his material at his disposal.
He called it _Dendroica coronata hooveri_, Hoover's warbler. In his
description of it he says that it is "in colors and markings like
_Dendroica coronata_, but with wing and tail much longer." His table of
measurements shows that the wings of California males average .15 inch
longer than those of eastern birds, and the tails .14 inch longer, less
than 1/6 inch! Among the wing measurements of eastern males the
individual variation is as great as the difference in his averages, the
shortest measuring 2.80 and the longest 2.95 inches! It appears to be a
quite finely drawn subspecies.

Dr. Oberholser (1938) says of it: "The Myrtle Warblers breeding in
Alaska are recognizable as a western race of this species. They differ
from the eastern bird in larger size and more solidly black breast in
the male. The upper parts in winter plumage and in the young are also
less rufescent than in the eastern bird."

The breeding range of this race, so far as known, extends from
northwestern Mackenzie to western Alaska, and southward to central
British Columbia and central Alberta. It has been found in winter from
California to southeastern Louisiana, in the southeastern United States,
and in northern Baja California and in southern Veracruz, in Mexico. It
may be commoner than is supposed, as it is recognizable only with
specimens in hand.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) writes of its habits in northern Alaska:

Hoover's Warblers were numerous summer residents of the timber tracts
throughout the Kowak Valley from the delta eastward. In the latter part
of August scattering companies were frequenting the spruce, birch and
cottonwoods, among the foliage of which they were constantly searching,
with oft-repeated 'chits,' just as are their habits in winter in
California. The last observed, a straggling flock of six or eight, were
seen in a patch of tall willows about sunset of August 30th. The
following spring the arrival of Hoover's Warblers was on May 22nd. They
were already in pairs and the males were in full song. At this season
they were confined exclusively to the heavier spruce woods. In the Kowak
delta, on the 23rd of June, a set of five considerably-incubated eggs
was secured. The nest was in a small spruce in a tract of larger growth,
and only four feet above the ground. It is a rather loose structure of
fine dry grass-blades, lined with ptarmigan feathers.

In the Atlin region of northern British Columbia, according to Mr.
Swarth (1926), it is a common species, breeding mostly in the lowlands:

A nest with five fresh eggs (Mus. Vert. Zool. no. 1992) was taken by
Brooks on June 15. It was in a slender spruce, one of a small thicket in
a locality that is largely poplar grown, about forty feet from the
ground and near the top of the tree. It rested on the twigs forming the
terminal forks of a branch, about three feet from the trunk. The outer
walls of the nest were built mostly of the shredded bark of the
fire-weed stalks, with a little fire-weed 'cotton,' some coarse grass
and small twigs, and several wing and tail feathers of a small bird. In
the lining there was some horse hair, mountain sheep hair and a few soft

Another nest, containing newly hatched young on June 28, was in a small
jack pine in open woods on the shore of Lake Atlin.

During the last week in August and the first week in September the
southward exodus was at its height. Flocks of warblers, mostly this
species, flitted rapidly through the poplar woods, and there was a
constant stream of myrtle warblers making long flights overhead. The
last one, a single bird, was seen September 19.

As the breeding ranges of Hoover's warbler and Audubon's warbler
approach each other in British Columbia and may even overlap it would
not be strange if hybrids between these two closely related species
should occasionally turn up. Joseph Mailliard (1937) calls attention to
a number of such hybrids between both forms of _coronata_ and
_auduboni_. And more recently, Fred M. Packard writes to me: "I have
inspected skins in most of the major museums in America to detect these
hybrids, and have been surprised at the number I have found. All but two
were taken in the Rockies or farther west, so that presumably the
subspecies concerned is _D. c. hooveri_."





The Pacific Audubon's warbler is a handsome western species closely
related to our familiar myrtle warbler, which to a large extent it
replaces, and is much like it in behavior and appearance; but it has one
more touch of color in its brilliant yellow throat, five spots of yellow
instead of four, and it has more white in the wings and tail. Although
its breeding range does not extend nearly as far north as that of the
myrtle warbler, it extends farther south, and to considerably higher
altitudes, breeding largely in the Canadian Zone among the pines,
firs, and spruces. Including the range of the Rocky Mountain form
(_memorabilis_), which has not yet been admitted to the A. O. U.
Check-List, the type race breeds from central British Columbia, central
Alberta, and west-central Saskatchewan southward to southern California,
northern Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. Throughout most of this
range it is widely distributed in the lowlands only during the winter,
retiring to the mountains for the breeding season.

In the mountains of New Mexico it has been found breeding at altitudes
of from 7,500 feet to over 11,000 feet. In Colorado it breeds at similar
elevations and perhaps up to nearly 12,000 feet. In southern California,
Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1908) found it breeding in the San Bernardino
Mountains from 9,000 feet "almost to timber limit, 10,500 feet
elevation, at least. * * * This was one of the most abundant birds of
the San Bernardino mountains, and was widely distributed from the lower
edge of the Transition zone up through the Boreal." Grinnell and Storer
(1924) write:

The Audubon Warbler is the most widely distributed and the most abundant
of all the species of wood warblers found in the Yosemite region. It
occurs in numbers throughout the main forested districts of the
mountains during the summer season, and it frequents the deciduous trees
and brush of the foothill and valley country in the winter time.

Altitudinally its summer range extends from the beginning of the
Transition Zone yellow pines on the west slope, at 3300 to 3500 feet, up
through the lodgepole pines and other conifers of the Canadian and
Hudsonian zones to the upper limit of unstunted trees at 10,000 feet or
a little higher. * * *

During the summer season the Audubon Warbler keeps mainly to coniferous
trees, foraging from 10 to 50 feet or more above the ground. In the
Transition Zone and part of the Canadian Zone it shares this habitat
with the Hermit Warbler, but at the higher altitudes it is the only
warbler present in the evergreen forest.

Farther north, in Mono County, Calif., James B. Dixon tells me that he
found it nesting between 7,600 and 9,500 feet elevation. Referring to
the Toyabe region in Nevada, Dr. Jean M. Linsdale (1938) found the Rocky
Mountain form in a somewhat different environment: "In the mountains the
area occupied by this warbler agreed fairly well with the area covered
with trees. Individuals were seen most often in aspens, limber pines,
birches, willows, and mountain mahoganies." Angus M. Woodbury (MS.) says
of the breeding range of the Rocky Mountain form in Utah: "It summers in
altitudes ranging from about 7,000 to 10,000 feet and nests in almost
any of the components of the forests in those altitudes; pine, fir,
spruce, aspen, or oak."

In Washington, Audubon's warbler is common and well distributed from
near sea level in the vicinity of Seattle and Tacoma up to about 8,000
feet in the mountains. Near Tacoma, D. E. Brown showed us some typical
lowland haunts of this warbler in the so-called "prairie region." On
this smooth, flat land, a fine growth of firs and cedars was scattered
about in the open; the two or three local species of firs were most
abundant and were growing to perfection, being well branched down to the

_Spring._--There is a northward as well as an altitudinal migration in
the spring. Samuel F. Rathbun says in his notes from Seattle: "Although
the Audubon's is of frequent if not regular occurrence during the
winter, a migration of the bird through the region is to be noted each
spring and fall." Near Seattle the first birds are seen and their song
is heard about March 10 to 15, and numbers are seen passing through up
to the latter part of April. "By way of comparison, in the Lake Crescent
section the first are seen about April 2, at the earliest, and after
three weeks the last appear to have passed by, as the species performs
its spring migration in a leisurely manner." A later wave of migrants
passes through Seattle between April 10 and 25, probably birds that nest
farther north.

Migration is evident in Utah, for Woodbury (MS.) says: "In addition to
its summer residence, it is a common migrant through the state, and a
sparse winter resident, mainly at low altitudes. It migrates through the
streamside and cultivated trees of the valleys, including shade trees
and orchards. The migrations cover a period of about 6 weeks each in
spring and fall, usually from about mid-April to the end of May and from
mid-September to the end of October, but in different years the waves
may be a little earlier or later."

In California, there is a gradual exodus of Audubon's warblers from the
lowlands to the mountains during April and May. Mrs. Amelia S. Allen
tells me that "by the end of April they have disappeared from the San
Francisco Bay region." And Swarth (1926b) says that in May, following
the spring molt, "there is a gradual withdrawal of the birds to the
higher mountains and to more northern latitudes."

Audubon's warbler occurs abundantly on the Huachuca Mountains, Ariz.,
but as a migrant only, during March, April, and May. Swarth (1904)

Though distributed over all parts of the mountains, they were at all
times more abundant in the higher pine region, than elsewhere; and on
April 24, 1903, I found them particularly numerous along the divide of
the mountains, evidently migrating. They could hardly be said to be in
flocks on this occasion, for along the ridge, which runs almost due
north and south, there was for several miles a continuous stream of
Audubon Warblers travelling rapidly from tree to tree, always moving in
a northerly direction; sometimes a dozen or more in one pine, and
sometimes only two or three, but never stopping long and all moving in
the same direction. Almost all that were seen on this occasion were high
plumaged males, hardly half a dozen females being observed for the day.

This was about two weeks before the local breeding race _(D. a.
nigrifrons)_ might be expected to arrive.

Dr. Merrill (1888), at Fort Klamath, Oreg., found Audubon's warblers
"extremely abundant during the migrations. A few males were seen at
Modoc Point on the 8th and 9th of April, and at the Fort on the 15th; by
the 20th they were quite plentiful. A second 'wave' composed of both
males and females, which latter had not previously been seen, arrived
about the 4th of May, when they suddenly became more abundant than ever,
bringing _D. aestiva morcomi_ and _H. lutescens_ with them."

_Nesting._--The only two nests of Audubon's warbler that I have seen
were shown to me in Washington, near the State University at Seattle.
The University is located on high land at the north end of Lake
Washington, where the steep banks, sloping down to the lake, are heavily
wooded with a mixed growth of large and small firs of at least two
species, as well as cedars, alder trees, and maples. In the more open
part of the woods I was shown, on April 29, 1911, a nest of this warbler
placed about 30 feet from the ground on two small branches and against
the trunk of a tall Douglas fir beside a woodland path. The other nest I
saw in the previously described "prairie region" near Tacoma on May 14,
1911; it was placed only 9 feet from the ground but 10 feet out from the
trunk of a dense Douglas fir growing in the open, and was well concealed
in the thick foliage.

These nests were evidently typical for the region, according to Rathbun.
He mentions in his notes two other nests. One, found May 2, 1909, on
the east side of Lake Washington and along a road, was 30 feet from the
ground in a small hemlock, near the extremity of one of the limbs and 7
feet out from the trunk. The other, found May 11, 1913, was in a small
fir about 30 feet up and about 4 feet from the trunk on one of the lower
limbs. "The nest is a very beautiful structure, constructed outwardly of
very small twigs from the fir or hemlock, inside of which are placed
smaller ones of the same character, with black rootlets, and lined with
feathers, of which a quantity are used, and a few horsehairs. It is a
compactly built affair." Dawson and Bowles (1909) say that the nests are
placed from 40 to 50 feet up, and usually measure 4 inches in width
outside by 2-3/4 in depth; and inside 2 by 1-1/2 inches. They are made
externally of such materials as fir twigs, weed tops, flower pedicels,
rootlets, and catkins, and are heavily lined with feathers of various
birds--including grouse, ptarmigan or domestic fowls--these feathers
often curving upward and inward so as partially to conceal the eggs.

Dr. J. C. Merrill (1898) found a very different type of nesting near
Fort Sherman, Idaho: "Here a majority of the nests I found were in
deciduous trees and bushes, generally but a few feet from the ground.
One was in a small rose bush growing at the edge of a cut bank
overhanging a road where wagons daily passed close to it. * * *
Occasionally one was seen in deep woods by the roadside near where hay
had been brushed off a load on a passing wagon; this was utilized for
the entire nest except lining, making a conspicuous yellow object in the
dark green fir or pine in which it was placed."

P. M. Silloway (1901) found a nest of Audubon's warbler near Flathead
Lake, Mont., that was 18 feet from the ground in a fork of a willow.
"The fork containing the nest was in a main stem, upright, a number of
feet below the leaf-bearing part of the tree, so that the nest was
exposed quite fairly to view." H. D. Minot (1880) found one at Seven
Lakes, Colo., in an odd situation: "The nest, composed of shreds and
feathers, with a few twigs without and hairs within, was built in a
dead, bare spruce, about twenty feet from the ground, compressed between
the trunk and a piece of bark that was attached beneath and upheld
above, where a bough ran through a knot-hole, so compressed that the
hollow measures 2-1/4 x 1-3/4, and 1-1/2 inches deep." Dr. Chapman
(1907) describes a nest from Estes Park, Colo., as "loosely constructed
of weed-stems and tops, and strips of bark, lined with fine weeds and

Mr. Woodbury (MS.) describes Utah nests as "compactly woven, cup-shaped
structures, usually of fine grasses, plant fibers or shredded bark,
lined with feathers or some substitute, and camouflaged with some fine
stringy material holding bracts or other small particles in place." He
reports nests in such conifers as spruce, balsam, and ponderosa pine,
and in aspen and oak.

J. Stuart Rowley writes to me: "In California, I have found several
nests of this species in the San Bernardino Mountains and in the Mono
County area in the northern part of the State. The nests I have found
have all been beautifully made structures, securely fastened to small,
low hanging branches of lodgepole pine, and placed about 10 to 12 feet
from the ground."

Dr. Grinnell (1908) records three nests, found in the San Bernardinos;
one "was twenty feet above the ground in the thick foliage of a short
drooping fir bough. It was compactly composed of weathered grasses,
frayed-out plant fibres, and tail and wing feathers of juncos and other
small birds. Internally it was thickly lined with mountain quail
feathers, some of the chestnut-colored ones sticking above the rim
conspicuously. This feather feature seems to be characteristic of
Audubon warblers' nests, as it was noticeably present in all that we
saw." Another nest was 25 feet from the ground in one of the lowest
branches of a yellow pine. The third "was snugly tucked away in a small
clump of mistletoe on an alder branch twelve feet above the ground."

J. K. Jensen (1923) says of New Mexico nests: "The nests are usually
placed on a horizontal limb of a pine or spruce, but also among dead
twigs on the trunks of cottonwoods, and even in a cavity of some tree.
All nests found were lined with a few feathers of Bluebirds and
Long-crested Jay."

Nests in tamarack, cedar, and birch have been reported by other

_Eggs._--Audubon's warbler lays from 3 to 5 eggs, almost always 4. They
are ovate, tending toward short ovate, and are slightly glossy. They are
grayish or creamy white, spotted and blotched with "raw umber,"
"Brussels brown," "argus brown," and sometimes "auburn," with underlying
spots of "pale brownish drab," "light brownish drab," or "light mouse
gray." The markings are often confined to the large end, and frequently
the drab undertones are in the majority, sometimes running together to
form a cap, and this is relieved with a few superimposed spots or
blotches of dark "argus brown," or scattered small scrawls so dark as to
appear almost black. The eggs generally are sparsely but rather boldly
marked. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.6 by 13.5 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =19.4= by 14.0, 19.1 by
=14.5=, and =15.4= by _12.3_ millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation is probably between 12 and 13 days,
as with the Myrtle warbler. Mrs. Wheelock (1904) writes:

In the brood whose incubation was closely watched, I found that twelve
days elapsed between the laying of the last egg and the advent of the
young. The female did most of the brooding; the male was found on the
nest only once, but was usually perched on a neighboring tree warbling
his enthusiastic little song, "cheree-cheree-cheree-cheree." After the
young were feathered enough to leave the nest, which occurred when they
were two weeks old, the male forgot to sing and became a veritable
family drudge with the brood ever at his heels clamoring for food. * * *
The pair whose young had hatched so early were very friendly, feeding
them without much fear while I sat within three or four feet of the nest
and on a level with it. They usually came with nothing to be seen in
their beaks, but the insect food they had gleaned and carried in their
own throats was regurgitated into the throats of the young. When the
latter were five days old the mother bird, for the first time, brought
an insect large enough to be seen, and crammed it into the open bill of
one of the nestlings, and from that time on most of the food brought was
eaten by the young while fresh.

The general opinion seems to be that two broods are often, perhaps
usually, raised in a season. The young birds are the first to leave
their mountain resorts, probably driven out by their parents, and are
the first to appear in the lowlands.

_Plumages._--The plumages and molts of Audubon's warbler are similar in
sequence to those of the myrtle warbler; in juvenal and first fall
plumages the two species are almost indistinguishable, though there is
always more white in the tail feathers of the western bird, in which the
white spot usually reaches the fourth feather even in young birds. In
any plumage the white areas in the tail of Audubon's warbler occupy two
more feathers on each side of the tail than in the myrtle warbler.

The juvenal Audubon's warbler is brown above, streaked with black and
white, and white below, streaked with black; the sexes are alike. This
plumage is worn but a short time; Dr. Grinnell (1908) says that it "is
of very short duration, not more than fifteen days, I should say"; and
Swarth (1926) says that is "worn but a few weeks. Tail and wing have
scarcely attained full length when the first winter plumage begins to
appear, and by the time the birds are drifting back into the lowlands in
September the last vestige of the juvenal plumage is gone." This
postjuvenal molt involves all the contour plumage and the wing coverts,
but not the rest of the wings or the tail.

In the first winter plumage there is but slight difference between the
sexes, the female being somewhat duller than the male and often with
little or no yellow on the throat. In both sexes the plumage is browner
throughout, the yellow areas are paler and less pronounced, the black
streaks are less prominent, and the white areas in the tail are more
restricted than in fall adults. Swarth continues: "All winter long these
drab-colored birds pervade the lowlands, conspicuous only through force
of numbers. Then, the latter part of March, comes the prenuptial molt
that brings such marked changes to the male. This molt is extensive, far
more so than with most of our birds in the spring, since it includes all
of the plumage except flight-feathers and tail-feathers. At the close
of the spring molt, about the middle of April as a rule, the male
emerges, gorgeous in black breast and yellow trimmings, and with a showy
white patch on either wing. The female, with similarly extensive molt,
has changed but little in appearance." He probably intended this as a
description of the adult prenuptial molt, but that of the young bird is
practically the same. However, the young bird in first nuptial plumage
can always be recognized by the faded and worn primaries and tail
feathers; otherwise, young and old are essentially alike. Adults have a
complete postnuptial molt in August and a partial prenuptial molt, as
outlined, in early spring. Mr. Swarth (1926) says: "In winter plumage,
old and young, male and female, are all very similar, but there are
minor differences by which the old male, at least, may be told from the
others. The dark streaks on the sides of the breast are a little more
pronounced, the yellow markings a little brighter, and the body color a
little clearer gray, as compared with the browner young birds."

Hybrids, or intergrades, occur occasionally between the different races
of _auduboni_ and _coronata_ where their ranges approach or overlap.

_Food._--Professor Beal (1907) examined the stomachs of 383 Audubon's
warblers taken in California from July to May, inclusive. The food
consisted of 85 percent of animal matter (insects and spiders) and a
little more than 15 percent of vegetable matter. The largest item was
Hymenoptera, 26 percent, consisting mostly of ants, with some wasps, and
a few parasitic species. Diptera accounted for 16 percent, including
house flies, crane-flies, and gnats, many of which must have been caught
on the wing, as this warbler is a good flycatcher. Bugs, Hemiptera,
amounted to nearly 20 percent of the food, including the black olive
scale, other scales, plant-lice, stink bugs, leaf-hoppers and
tree-hoppers. "Plant lice (Aphididae) were contained in 39 stomachs, and
from the number eaten appear to be favorite food. Several stomachs were
entirely filled with them, and the stomachs in which they were found
contained an average of 71 percent in each." Caterpillars amounted to
nearly 14 percent and beetles more than 6 percent of the food; most of
the beetles were injurious species. Other insects and spiders made up
about 2 percent.

The vegetable food consisted of fruits, mostly wild and of no value,
less than 5 percent, and seeds, over 9 percent, mostly weed seeds and
seeds of the poison oak. These warblers have been known to puncture
grapes and they probably eat some late fruit, but they do very little
damage to cultivated fruits and berries. C. S. Sharp (1903) observed a
flock of 200 birds, mostly Audubon's warblers, greedily eating the
raisins in the tray shed of his packing house; they had to be constantly
driven away. Mrs. Amelia S. Allen says in her notes that they collect in
great flocks in the live oaks to feed on the oak worms in the spring,
and that they eat myrica berries in the fall. John G. Tyler (1913) says:
"Audubon warblers share with Say Phoebes the habit of catching flies
from a window, sometimes becoming so engrossed in this occupation as to
cling for several seconds to the screen where a south-facing window
offers a bountiful supply of this kind of food."

_Behavior._--Audubon's warbler is a lively and active bird that seems to
be always in a hurry, constantly moving in pursuit of its prey. Mrs.
Bailey (1902) writes:

Its flight and all its movements seem to be regulated by gnats, its days
one continuous hunt for dinner. When insects are scarce it will fly
hesitatingly through the air looking this way and that, its yellow rump
spot always in evidence, but when it comes to an invisible gauzy-winged
throng it zigzags through, snapping them up as it goes; then, perhaps,
closing its wings it tumbles down to a bush, catches itself, and races
pellmell after another insect that has caught its eye. In the parks it
is especially fond of the palm tops frequented by the golden-crowned
sparrows, and dashes around them in its mad helter-skelter fashion. The
most straight-laced, conventional thing it ever does is to make
flycatcher sallies from a post of observation when it has caught its
insect. If it actually sits still a moment with wings hanging at its
sides, its head is turning alertly, its bright eyes keen for action, and
while you look it dashes away with a nervous _quip_ into midair, in hot
pursuit of its prey.

It is not especially timid, being easy to approach when at its nest, and
it shows its confidence in human nature by building its nest in trees in
parks, over highways, in gardens, and even close to houses. Its behavior
in the defense of its young shows a solicitude for their welfare. Jensen
(1923) says: "If a nest with young is discovered, both parent birds try
every means possible to draw the attention of the intruder away from the
nest. Often I have seen them drop with folded wings from the top of a
tree and flutter among the leaves as if each had a broken wing." And
Grinnell, Dixon, and Linsdale (1930) write:

June 15, 1925, a female Audubon warbler was seen which showed concern
whenever the observer went near a certain thicket of very small pines
and willows. The bird came to within three meters of the intruder and
distracted his attention by going through an elaborate display. The bird
spread its tail fan-wise, showing the white spots to greatest effect,
and quivered the partly spread wings, toppling over backwards at the
same time, as if unable to hold to the perch. For an instant the
observer thought the bird's foot was caught in the forking twigs. The
inference finally made was that partly fledged young were in the low
vegetation somewhere very near.

_Voice._--Samuel F. Rathbun sends me the following note on the song of
Audubon's warbler: "The first note or two is given rather slowly, then
its utterance is more rapid and with a somewhat rising inflection, the
song closing a little hurriedly. It is quite a strong and sprightly
song, but its charm lies mostly in the fact that it is one of the first,
if not the very first, of the warbler songs heard in the spring. The
call note given by both sexes is the same, a quick and slightly lisping
one that is also used in the autumn and at times in flight."

Dr. Walter P. Taylor (MS.) says of a song heard at Fort Valley, Ariz.,
on June 12, 1925: "The song seems much less full and seems lacking in
quality, as compared with that of the Audubon in Washington State. It
was so lacking in strength and quality that I took it for a Grace
warbler." He wrote it as _wheetlea, wheetlea_, repeated 7 or 8 times, or
_wheetoo_, 7 times repeated, or again _wheetleoo wheet_, the final
syllable a little different from the others.

Mrs. Bailey (1902) says: "His song is of a strong warbler type, opening
toward the end, _chwee, chwee-chwee-ah, chwee_, between the song of the
yellow warbler and that of the junco." At Lake Burford, N. Mex., in May
and June, according to Dr. Wetmore (1920), "males were found singing
from the tops of the tallest pines and were slow and leisurely in their
movements in great contrast to their habit at other seasons. Frequently
while singing they remained on one perch for some time so that often it
was difficult to find them. The song resembled the syllables _tsil tsil
tsil tsi tsi tsi tsi_. In a way it was similar to that of the Myrtle
Warbler but was louder and more decided in its character."

Dr. Merrill (1888) says: "On two or three occasions I have heard a very
sweet and peculiar song by the female, and only after shooting them in
the act of singing could I convince myself of their identity."

_Field marks._--The male in his gay spring plumage is not likely to be
confused with any other warbler except the myrtle warbler, from which it
differs in having a brilliant yellow throat instead of a white one; in
other words, _auduboni_ has five patches of yellow against four for
_coronata_. In immature and fall plumages the two species are much
alike, but _auduboni_ has four or five large white patches on each side
of the tail, while _coronata_ has only two or three, in the different
plumages; these white markings are diagnostic in any plumage. The yellow
rump is always conspicuous at any season, even when the other yellow
markings are more obscured.

_Fall._--The fall migration is a reversal of the spring migration, from
the north southward and from the mountains down to the valleys and
lowlands. Rathbun tells me that the southward migrants pass through
Washington during October and November, but that a few remain there and
even farther north, in winter. In California, Audubon's warblers that
have bred in the mountains begin to drift downward to lower levels in
August, the young birds coming first, so that by September they are well
spread out over the lowlands almost down to sea-level. Soon after the
first of October, the first of the migrants cross the border into Mexico
on their way to winter quarters. Dr. Taylor tells me that in New Mexico
during October these warblers are abundant in the aspens, being "by far
the most numerous species of bird."

_Winter._--Audubon's warbler is a hardy bird. At least some individuals
remain in winter almost up to the northern limit of its breeding range;
and while it retires entirely from its summer haunts in the mountains,
most of its breeding range elsewhere is not wholly deserted. It probably
remains as far north as it can make a living; its adaptability in
finding a food supply helps in this and makes it one of the most
successful of western birds as well as one of the most abundant in all
parts of its range. A few remain, perhaps regularly, in coastal British
Columbia, for Theed Pearse has given me five December dates and four
February dates, spread out over a period of 10 years, on which he has
recorded one or more Audubon's warblers on Vancouver Island; on one of
these dates, February 10, 1943, the temperature dropped to -6° F.

Rathbun tells me it is "of frequent, if not regular, occurrence during
the winter" in Washington. And in Oregon Gabrielson and Jewett (1940)
record it as a "permanent resident that has been noted in every county
during summer and throughout western Oregon in winter. * * * Its little
song is heard on every side during May and June, and its peculiarly
distinct call or alarm note is a familiar sound throughout the balance
of the year. This is true not only of the wooded slopes and bottoms but
equally so of the weedy fence rows of the Willamette Valley, where
during the short days of fall and winter these warblers may be found
associating with the Golden-crowned Sparrows and Willow Goldfinches or
sitting on the telephone wires with the Western Bluebirds." Swarth
(1926) writes:

In much of the West, especially in the Southwest, the Audubon's warbler
is one of the dominant species during the winter months. In southern
California it vies with the Intermediate Sparrow and House Finch in
point of numbers. Wherever there are birds at all, this bird is sure to
be there. From the seacoast to the mountains, in city parks and gardens,
in orchards and in chaparral, the Audubon's warbler is equally at home.
On any country walk scores are sure to be seen, starting up from the
ground or out of the trees with wavering and erratic flight, showing in
departure a flash of white-marked tail-feathers and a gleaming yellow
rump spot, and uttering the incessant _chip_ that, better than any
marking, serves to identify the fleeting bird.

In colder sections there are some fatalities; in the Fresno district,
according to Tyler (1913), "a period of two or three unusually cold
nights frequently results disastrously for these little warblers, and my
observations show that there is a greater mortality among this species
than in all other birds combined. After a hard freeze it is not an
uncommon occurrence to see certain individuals that appear so benumbed
as to be almost unable to fly, and not a few dead birds have been been
found under trees along the streets."

From much farther south, in Central America, Dr. Alexander F. Skutch
(MS.) writes:

"Audubon's warbler is a moderately abundant winter resident in the
higher mountains of Guatemala, yet like the closely related myrtle
warbler, appears to be less regular in its time of arrival and departure
and less uniformly distributed, than the majority of the more common
winter visitants. These attractive warblers were abundant on the Sierra
de Tecpán from January until April, 1933; but strangely enough they did
not return in August or September with all the other warblers that
winter there; and none had appeared by the end of the year, although I
kept close watch for them. Yet in the middle of the following September,
I found them numerous among the pine and alder trees on the Sierra
Cuchumatanes, nearly 11,000 feet above sea-level. The males were then
resplendent in their full nuptial dress of yellow, black, white and
gray, and sang enchantingly. I believe it not impossible that they breed
in this remote, little-known region--for here also I found a breeding
representative of the savannah sparrow, hitherto known only as a migrant
in the country--and it is to be hoped that some day an ornithologist
will study the bird-life of this lofty plateau during the breeding
season, from April to August.

"During the winter months, the Audubon warblers are truly social, and
are nearly always met in flocks, sometimes containing 25 or more
individuals. They are versatile in their modes of finding food.
Sometimes, from the tops of the tall cypress trees near the summit of
the Sierra de Tecpán, they would launch themselves on long and
skillfully executed sallies to snatch up insects on the wing. As they
twisted about in the air, they would spread their tails to reveal the
prettily contrasting areas of black and white. At other times they
foraged on the ground, like the myrtle warblers; and this habit brought
them into contact with the bluebirds (_Sialia sialis guatemalae_), which
are likewise arboreal birds that frequently descend to hunt on the
ground. At altitudes of 8,000 to 9,000 feet I almost always found the
Audubon warblers and the bluebirds together in the bare, close-cropped
pastures where there were scattered, low, oak trees; and this
association was so constant that it could not have been accidental. Both
kinds of birds were exceedingly wary as they hunted over the ground, and
would fly up into the trees if they espied a man approaching them, even
from a long way off. The Audubon warblers, probably because they more
frequently enter open, exposed places, where they are conspicuous and
far from shelter and must exercise great caution not to be surprised,
were by far the shiest and most difficult to approach of all the
warblers of the Sierra, whether resident or migratory. This was true
whether they happened to be in the trees or on the ground.

"In the evening, foraging over the ground as they went, the Audubon
warblers and bluebirds would go together to bathe in one of the rivulets
that flowed through the pastures. After splashing vigorously in the
shallow water they would fly up together into the raijón bushes, shake
the drops from their feathers, sometimes wipe their wet faces against
the branches, and put their plumage in order again. The last Audubon
warbler that I saw in the spring was a lone female, who foraged in
company with a pair of the resident bluebirds in the open pasture. She
must have appreciated the companionship of the bluebirds more than ever,
after all of her own kind had departed for more northerly regions.

"Guatemalan dates are: Sierra de Tecpán, January 16 to April 23, 1933;
Sierra Cuchumatanes, September 13, 1934; Chichicastenango (Griscom),
November 16."


_Range._--Western North America from central British Columbia to

_Breeding range._--Audubon's warbler breeds =north= to central British
Columbia (Hazelton, Fort St. James, and Nukko Lake) and central western
Alberta (Smoky River). =East= to southwestern Alberta (Smoky River,
Jasper Park, Banff National Park, and Crowsnest Lake); casually to
southwestern Saskatchewan (Cypress Hills); western Montana (Fortine,
Teton County, Bozeman, and Fort Custer); western South Dakota (Harding
County and the Black Hills); northwestern Nebraska (Warbonnet Canyon,
Sioux County); central Colorado (Estes Park, Gold Hill, Colorado
Springs, Wet Mountains, and Fort Garland); central New Mexico (Taos,
Ruidoso, and Cloudcroft); western Texas (Guadalupe Mountains); and
western Chihuahua (Pinos Altos); in migration much farther east.
=South= to central western Chihuahua (Pinos Altos); southeastern to
north-central Arizona (Huachuca Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains,
Flagstaff, and Grand Canyon); southwestern Utah (Zion National Park);
southern Nevada (Charleston Mountains); central southern California (San
Bernardino Mountains and the Santa Rosa Mountains); and northern Baja
California (Sierra San Pedro Mártir). =West= to northern Baja California
(Sierra San Pedro Mártir); southwestern California (San Jacinto
Mountains and Mount Wilson); central eastern California (Yosemite Valley
and Big Trees); western California (Diablo, Mount Tamalpais, Fort Ross,
and Trinity Mountains); western Oregon (Coos Bay, Eugene, Corvallis, and
Netarts); western Washington (Cape Disappointment, Shelton, and the San
Juan Islands); and western British Columbia (Cowichan Lake and Port
Hardy, Vancouver Island; and Hazelton).

_Winter range._--The Audubon warbler is found in winter =north= to
southwestern British Columbia (Comox and Chilliwack). =East= to
southwestern British Columbia (Chilliwack); central Washington (Yakima);
occasionally eastern Washington (Cheney); northeastern Oregon, casually
(Pendleton and Legrande); central California (Marysville and Fresno);
casually to southwestern Utah (St. George and Zion National Park);
central Arizona (Fort Mojave, Fort Verde, Salt River National Wildlife
Refuge, and Tombstone); southern Texas (El Paso, rarely Knickerbocker,
and Brownsville); Tamaulipas (Matamoros and Victoria); western Veracruz
(Orizaba); and central Guatemala (San Jerónimo). =South= to Guatemala
(San Jerónimo, Tecpán, and San Lucas); casual or accidental south to
central Costa Rica (Juan Viñas). =West= to western Guatemala (San Lucas
and Totonicapán); Oaxaca (Parada); Guerrero (Chilpancingo and Coyuca);
western Jalisco (Tonila); Nayarit (Tepic); southern Sinaloa (Mazatlán);
western Baja California (Santa Margarita and Natividad Islands); and the
west coast of the United States to southwestern British Columbia

The preceding range is for the species as a whole of which two
subspecies or geographic races are recognized. The Pacific Audubon's
warbler (_D. a. auduboni_) breeds south to southern California, central
Arizona, and New Mexico; the black-fronted Audubon's warbler (_D. a.
nigrifrons_) breeds from the Huachuca Mountains, Ariz., through the
mountains to southwestern Chihuahua.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter range are:
Guatemala--Tecpán, April 23. Sonora--Moctezuma, May 23. Texas--Marathon,
May 18. Kansas--Fort Wallace, May 27. Arizona--Prescott, May 19.
California--Fresno, May 3.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Kansas--Garden City, April 22.
Nebraska--Hastings, April 14. New Mexico--Apache, March 7.
Colorado--Colorado Springs, April 12. Wyoming--Laramie, April 21.
Montana--Fortine, April 14. Alberta--Banff, April 23. Utah--St. George,
March 8. Nevada--Carson City, April 10. Idaho--Sandpoint, April 16.
California--Grass Valley, April 10. Oregon--Prospect, March 6.
Washington--Shelton, March 4. British Columbia--Summerland, March 30.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia--Okanagan Landing,
October 24. Washington--Pullman, November 13. Oregon--Prospect, November
18. Idaho--Bayview, October 26. Utah--St. George, December 7.
Alberta--Edmonton, September 11. Montana--Fortine, October 24.
Wyoming--Laramie, November 9. Colorado--Fort Morgan, October 30. New
Mexico--Silver City, November 10.

Early dates of fall arrival are: California--San Diego, September 2.
Texas--Fort Davis, September 9. Sonora--Las Cuevas, September 3.
Guatemala--Chichicastenango, November 16.

_Banding._--An Audubon's warbler that was banded at Santa Cruz, Calif.,
on February 17, 1931, was found dead November 5, 1931, at Glenwood,
Calif. Another, banded at Altadena, Calif., on December 1, 1935, was
retrapped at the same station on February 13, 1940, being then nearly 5
years old, at the least.

_Casual records._--A specimen of Audubon's warbler was collected at
Cambridge, Mass., on November 15, 1876. Another was collected at West
Chester, Pa., November 8, 1889. In Ohio one was closely watched at
Cleveland April 30 and May 3, 1931; and a second one at Richmond on
October 5, 1941. On April 28, 1928, one was closely watched at
Minneapolis, Minn.

_Egg dates._--California: 53 records, May 11 to July 30; 28 records,
June 13 to 25, indicating the height of the season.

Colorado: 10 records, June 18 to July 6; 5 records, June 19 to 29.

Washington: 11 records, April 19 to June 29; 5 records, May 14 to June




The black-fronted Audubon's warbler was originally described by William
Brewster (1889) as a distinct species, based on a series of five
specimens collected by M. A. Frazar in the Sierra Madre Mountains of
Chihuahua, Mexico, in June and July, 1888. He gave as its characters:
"Male similar to _D. auduboni_ but with the forehead and sides of the
crown and head nearly uniform black, the interscapulars so closely
spotted that the black of their centres exceeds in extent the bluish
ashy on their edges and tips, the black of the breast patch wholly
unmixed with lighter color. Female with the general coloring, especially
on the head, darker than in female _auduboni_; the dark markings of the
breast and back coarser and more numerous; the entire pileum, including
the yellow crown patch, spotted finely but thickly with slaty black." He
admits that it is closely related to _D. auduboni_, "so closely in fact
that the two may prove to intergrade," but he found no indications of
such intergradation. Later, however, Leverett M. Loomis (1901) called
attention to the fact that several birds, collected in the Huachuca and
Chiricahua Mountains, in Arizona, showed signs of intergradation with
breeding birds from central California. These were taken by W. W. Price,
establishing this bird as an addition to our fauna, and resulting in
its reduction to subspecific rank. It is known to breed in the Huachuca
Mountains and in the high Sierras of northwestern Mexico, ranging south
to Guatemala. Swarth (1904) says of the status of the black-fronted
warbler in Arizona:

This, the only form of _auduboni_ that breeds in the Huachucas, occurs
during the summer months, though in rather limited numbers, in the
higher pine regions from 8500 feet upwards. On one occasion, April 5,
1903, I secured a male _nigrifrons_ from a flock of _auduboni_ feeding
in some live-oaks near the mouth of one of the canyons at an altitude of
about 4500 feet, but this is the only time that I have seen it below the
altitude given above; and it is also exceptional in the early date of
its arrival. No more were seen until the second week in May, which seems
nearer the usual time of arrival, for in 1902, the first was seen on May
9th. * * * Several specimens were taken intermediate in their
characteristics between _auduboni_ and _nigrifrons_; some, of the size
of the latter, though in color but little darker than _auduboni_, while
some show every gradation of color between the two extremes.

The black-fronted warbler averages somewhat larger than the Audubon's.

_Nesting._--Before this warbler was known to be the breeding form in
Arizona, O. W. Howard (1899) reported on two nests found in the Huachuca
Mountains in 1898, and said that he had found "several nests" of
Audubon's warblers in 1897 and 1898, all in these mountains. These were
all, doubtless, nests of the black-fronted warbler. One of these was in
a red fir tree about 15 feet up, and the other "was placed in the lower
branches of a sugar-pine about fifty feet from the ground, and twelve
feet out from the trunk of the tree. * * * The nests are very loosely
constructed, being composed almost entirely of loose straws with a few
feathers and hair for a lining." One of Howard's nests of this warbler,
with four eggs, is in the Thayer collection in Cambridge. It was found
in the same mountains, at an elevation of about 9,000 feet, saddled on
the limb of a red spruce tree 35 feet above ground and well concealed in
the foliage. It is rather a bulky nest made of shredded weed stems, fine
strips of inner bark, fine rootlets and various other plant fibers,
mixed with feathers of the Arizona jay, three long wing feathers of
small birds and two small owl feathers; it is lined with fine fibers,
horse and cattle hair, and jay feathers. Externally it measures about
3-1/2 inches in diameter and 2-1/2 in height; the inside diameter is
about 2 inches and the cup is about 1-3/4 inches deep.

James Rooney has sent me the data for a set of four eggs of the
black-fronted warbler, taken by Clyde L. Field in the Santa Catalina
Mountains in Arizona, June 2, 1938. The nest, placed 15 feet above
ground at the end of a pine limb, was made of twigs and was lined with
deer hair and a few feathers. A nest with four eggs, in the collection
of Charles E. Doe, in Florida, was taken by the same collector in the
same mountains on June 8, 1937; it was in a crotch of an aspen, 30 feet

_Eggs._--The measurements of 16 eggs average 18.5 by 13.6 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =19.8= by 14.0, 19.5 by
=14.4=, =17.3= by 13.9, and 17.6 by =12.4= millimeters (Harris).





The black-throated gray warbler is neatly dressed in gray-black and
white, with only a tiny spot of bright yellow in front of the eye. Its
breeding range extends from southern British Columbia, Nevada, northern
Utah, and northwestern Colorado southward to northern Lower California,
southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico. It spends the winter in

As a summer resident it is common and sometimes abundant in western
Washington, even at lower elevations where, Samuel F. Rathbun tells me,
it "prefers a locality somewhat open, with a second growth of young
conifers; this may occur in the rather heavy forest, if such condition
exists there, or along the edge of the timber; the species is partial to
this character of growth."

In southern Oregon, according to C. W. Bowles (1902), it seems to
combine the habitat requirements of the eastern black-throated green and
the prairie warbler. Like the former, it seeks tall trees, preferably
conifers, well scattered and interspersed with bushes, since it nests in
both. Like the prairie warbler, it chooses high dry places with dry
ground underneath for its nest.

Farther south, the black-throated gray warbler seems to prefer growths
of hardwood and underbrush for its summer haunts--oaks, scrub oak,
pinyon, juniper, manzanita, and the like. Dr. Walter K. Fisher wrote to
Dr. Chapman (1907) that, in California, "it lives in chaparral such as
deer brush, wild lilac of various species, scrub oak, and sometimes,
particularly in the humid coast districts, among evergreens. It is fond
of the neighborhood of clearings where it works constantly and carefully
among low growth." Dr. Grinnell (1908) says that in the San Bernardino
Mountains, "this warbler appeared to be be confined exclusively to the
golden oak belt during the breeding season." Referring to the Great
Basin region, Dr. Linsdale (1938) writes: "The black-throated gray
warbler was one of the few species adapted to occupy the piñon belt on
the Toyabe Mountains. Not only did this bird tolerate conditions on dry
slopes, but it was practically limited to them. The pairs were scattered
far apart, but because this type of habitat takes up so much of the
total area, this warbler must rank high among all the summer resident
birds on the basis of numbers."

This warbler is a common breeding bird in the mountains of southern
Arizona. In the brushy foothills and canyons of the Huachucas, we found
it between 4,000 and 7,000 feet in altitude, in the oak belt about
halfway up the canyons, principally among the scrub oaks and manzanita
bushes. In New Mexico, according to Mrs. Bailey (1928), it is found in
summer at slightly higher levels, 5,500 to 8,000 feet, in the oak and
pinyon pine country.

_Nesting._--In Washington, the black-throated gray warbler seems to nest
in fir trees exclusively, at heights ranging from 7 or 8 feet up to 50
feet above the ground. Rathbun has sent me the data for seven nests, all
in firs, at heights ranging from 7-1/2 to 35 feet; they were all on
horizontal branches and from 4 to 10 feet out from the trunk. He
describes in his notes a typical nesting site as follows: "From a
distance I saw a fir tree the character of which, from my experience,
was favored by this warbler as a nesting place. It was of considerable
size, one of a number scattered along the edge of the forest, and had
considerable undergrowth beneath. After a very careful examination I
located the nest near the extremity of one of the large lower limbs, at
a distance from the trunk of 9 feet and at a height above the ground of
23 feet. The nest was placed at the side of the limb and was securely
attached at a point where grew several small twig-like branches." He
says that this bird is very regular in its nesting date, the average
date for fresh eggs is between June 3 and 8, and that the nest is always
a neat one. He describes a typical nest as follows: "Plant fibers, dry
grasses and a few very small weed-stalks were all neatly woven together
to form the walls of the nest. The lining was a few feathers--two being
those of the ruffed grouse, with others from sparrows, the quill of each
being worked into the walls of the nest; next to this lining were soft
and very fine plant fibers, with a few horsehairs."

C. W. Bowles (1902) mentions a nest in southern Oregon that "was six
feet up in a manzanita bush in a patch of bushes of the same variety
about three acres in extent." But he adds that--

the nests were from three feet and three inches to twenty-five feet from
the ground, oaks seeming the favorite in southern Oregon and fir near
Tacoma. The usual situation is in a small clump of leaves that is just
large enough to almost completely conceal the nest, and yet so very
small that a crow or jay would never think of anything being concealed
in them. * * * The nests externally are about 3 × 2-3/4 inches and
internally 1-3/4 × 1-3/4 inches in diameter and depth. They are composed
externally of grass and weed-stalks, that must be several seasons old,
(being bleached and very soft) moss and feathers; and lined with
feathers (one had evidently been lined from a dead Stellar jay), horse,
cow and rabbit hair or fur, and sometimes the very fine stems of the
flowers of some kind of moss. The male has never been seen to assist
either at nest-building or incubation.

In the Yosemite region, where Grinnell and Storer (1924) found the
black-throated gray warbler in fair numbers among the golden oaks on the
north walls of the Valley, they found a nest "placed 5 feet 6 inches
above ground in a mountain lilac (_Ceanothus integerrimus_) bush against
a main stem."

From southern California, James B. Dixon writes to me: "This bird breeds
sparingly from 2,500 feet to the tops of our mountain ranges in San
Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. During my observations
since 1898, I have seen but five nests. One was in a live oak tree, two
in manzanita bushes and two in golden oak saplings." A nest in Riverside
County, at 5,500 feet elevation, was in "a scrub growth area which was
well wooded with sapling golden oak and manzanita, buck thorn, and other
sparsely growing bushes." The nest was "located 12 feet from the ground
in a deep, vertical crotch of a golden oak sapling, and could be seen
from only one angle, much like the nest of a gnatcatcher or wood pewee."
Another nest was found "in the dense growth of a young manzanita bush.
* * * The locations of the two nests were extremely different, one was
carefully concealed in a comparatively bare oak sapling, and the other
in the dense foliage of a rank-growing young manzanita bush."

In the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, I found but one nest of the
black-throated gray warbler. It was 5 feet up in the main crotch of a
small oak growing on a steep slope on the side of a branch of Ramsey
Canyon; the slope was sparsely covered with scrub oaks and other bushes,
with a scattering of tall pines; the nest was so well concealed that I
could not get a clear photograph of it. Howard (1899) found three nests
in these mountains in upright forks of oak saplings, and says: "I found
other nests, some placed in large white oaks and some in sycamores and
have known the birds to build high up in pines." One of his nests from
these mountains, in the Thayer collection, was found only 18 inches up
in a young fir tree in a thicket; lying against the main stem, it was
supported, surrounded, and well concealed by live twigs. Four other
nests in this collection, were all taken in the Huachuca and Chiricahua
mountains from oaks at heights ranging from 6 to 16 feet above ground.
All much alike, their decidedly gray appearance makes them less visible
among the gray branches. They are made of light gray, old, shredded
stems of dead weeds and grasses, very fine gray plant fibers and a few
dead leaves, bits of string, and thread, all firmly bound with spider's
web and decorated with numerous bits of spider cocoons. They are lined
with fine brown and white hairs and small, soft feathers.

In New Mexico, Jensen (1923) reports two nests in piñon pines; one was 3
feet and the other 5 feet above ground.

_Eggs._--From 3 to 5 eggs, usually 4, constitute a full set for the
black-throated gray warbler. These are ovate to short ovate and are only
slightly glossy. The ground color is white or creamy white and is
speckled, spotted, and sometimes blotched with "chestnut," "auburn,"
"bay," or "russet," occasionally with "mummy brown," with underlying
spots of "light brownish drab," or "light vinaceous drab." The spots are
usually concentrated at the large end, forming a loose wreath, with the
drab markings frequently in the majority. Some eggs are only lightly
speckled, while others are boldly marked. The measurements of 50 eggs
average 16.5 by 12.5 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes
measure =18.2= by 12.3, 18.1 by =13.1=, =14.6= by 12.9, and 16.2 by
=11.6= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation does not seem to have been recorded
for this warbler. It is probably performed by the female entirely, but
both parents share in the feeding of the young. Information on this
subject is scanty.

_Plumages._--The young black-throated gray warbler in juvenal plumage
shows the characters of the species more than do the young of other wood
warblers; the black and white areas about the head and throat are
strongly indicated in a duller pattern and there are two broad white
bars tipping the median and greater wing coverts (see pl. 35); these
markings are more subdued in the female than in the male, thus making a
slight sexual difference. The back is brownish gray and the underparts
grayish white, faintly streaked with black.

I have not been able to trace the postjuvenal molt, but it is perhaps
less extensive than in most other warblers. In first winter plumage the
young male is much like the adult male at that season, but it is more
strongly washed with brown above and with yellowish beneath, the chin is
white, the black throat is mottled with white, and the streaking above
and below is duller and more obscured. The young female differs from the
adult female in about the same way.

Apparently, the nuptial plumage is produced mainly by wear, or by a
limited prenuptial molt. The postnuptial molt is evidently complete in
late summer.

The adult winter plumages of both sexes differ but little from the
spring plumages; in the male, the feathers of the upper parts and cheeks
are margined with brownish gray and the throat with white, the sides are
washed with brown and the black streaks are obscured; in the female, the
plumage is tinged with brownish in the same way and the black streaks
are obscured.

_Food._--No extensive study of the food of the black-throated gray
warbler seems to have been made. It is evidently mainly, if not wholly,
insectivorous, for several observers have mentioned its zeal in foraging
among the foliage of trees and bushes for insects, with a special
fondness shown for oak worms and other green caterpillars. Bowles (1902)
says that "it seems to prefer oak trees in the spring because of the
small green caterpillars that are very numerous on them and which are
devoured on all occasions. One female must have eaten nearly half its
weight of them (from three-fourths to one and one-half inches long)
while its nest was being taken." Mrs. Wheelock (1904) writes in the same
vein: "In the spring these oaks are particularly infested with the green
caterpillars, and the Warblers never seem to tire of devouring the
pests. They lean way over to peer under every leaf, or reach up to the
twigs overhead, never missing one. Twenty of these worms is an average
meal for a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and the total for a day must
reach into the hundreds."

_Behavior._--The black-throated gray warbler is not one of the most
active wood warblers except when it is busy feeding; even then it goes
about it in a quiet, business-like manner, without much concern over the
presence of humans. At other times, it is rather shy and retiring,
difficult to follow, as it slips away silently in the thick underbrush,
where it spends so much of its time. Its nest is difficult to find, for
it is not only well concealed, but the bird is careful not to betray it;
our usual method of following a bird to its nest was not very
successful, as it was soon lost to sight while we were watching it.

Mr. Bowles (1902) writes of its behavior that an incubating female
"passed the time eating caterpillars while the nest was being examined.
She did not go over five feet from it this time, till I left when she
followed for about twenty feet, and kept almost within reach, watching
me very closely. * * * Black-throated gray warblers do not object to
human association at all; one nest was fifteen feet up on an oak branch,
directly over a trail that was used at least six times a day by people
going for mail, and generally much oftener."

William L. Finley (1904a) describes quite different behavior at a nest
containing young: "The moment the mother returned and found me at the
nest she was scared almost out of her senses. She fell from the top of
the tree in a fluttering fit. She caught quivering on the limb a foot
from my hand. But unable to hold on, she slipped through the branches
and clutched my shoe. I never saw such an exaggerated case of the
chills. I stooped to see what ailed her. She wavered like an autumn leaf
to the ground. I leaped down, but she had limped under a bush and
suddenly got well. Of course I knew she was tricking me! But I never saw
higher skill in a feathered artist."

_Voice._--The simple, but pleasing song of the black-throated gray
warbler is described in Rathbun's notes as follows: "The song as
ordinarily sung consists of three rather quickly given notes, of a
somewhat lisping quality, that rise and fall but are alike in
construction and a closing fourth note that may slur upward with a
decided accent, or may fall. The real construction of this song is lost
unless the singer is close by, for then it will be found that each of
the first three notes is a double one. It is a clear and pleasing song,
of good carrying quality, and somewhat smooth when heard at a distance.
During the nesting season the males will be heard in song much of the
time during the day. The habit of the bird is to perch on or near the
top of a young evergreen tree and sing repeatedly without shifting its
perch, then to fly to another tree of similar character and repeat its

As I heard it in Washington, I wrote it _swee, swee, ker-swee,
sick_, or _swee, swee, swee, per-swee-ee, sic_. Dr. Walter P.
Taylor writes it in his notes _zee zeegle, zeegle, zeegle, zort,
tseeee_. Grinnell and Storer (1924) describe it as "a rather
lazy, drawling utterance, deep-toned rather than shrill.
_W[=e][=e]-zy, w[=e][=e]-zy, w[=e][=e]-zy, w[=e][=e]-zy-weet_;
_tsewey, tsewey, tsewey, tsewey-tsew_; _zu[=e][=e], zu[=e][=e],
zu[=e][=e], soop; s[)i][)i]]-w[=e][=e]zy, w[=e][=e]zy we-tsú_;
_ow[=e]z[=e]-w[=e]z[=e]-w[=e]z[=e]-w[=e]z[=e]-ch[=u]r_, are
syllabifications written by us at different times when individual birds
were singing close at hand. There are modifications in the song;
sometimes the terminal syllable is omitted and again only three of the
two-syllabled notes are given. The ordinary call is a rather low,
one-syllabled _chit_."

Mrs. Bailey (1902) says that "its song is a simple warbler lay,
_zee-ee-zee-ee, ze, ze, ze_, with the quiet woodsy quality of _virens_
and _caerulescens_, so soothing to the ear." Bowles (1902) heard an
unusual song that "was on the principle of a yellow-throated vireo or a
scarlet tanager; but the quality of a blue-headed vireo in addition,
making a very strong and rich song."

_Field marks._--The gray back, white breast with a few black streaks,
two white wing bars, and, particularly, the conspicuous black and white
pattern of the head and throat will make this warbler almost
unmistakable. The tiny yellow spot in front of the eye is visible only
at close quarters. Young birds and adults in the fall show the same
characters more or less obscured by brownish edgings. The female has a
white throat instead of a black one.

_Enemies._--Jays of different species and crows evidently take heavy
toll of the eggs and young, as they are persistent nest hunters and
often have their own broods to feed near by. Bowles (1902) says that
"one pair of California jays seemed to have located every nest that was
built in a gulch where they were building their own nest." One of the
Grinnell and Storer (1924) party "interrupted an attack by a California
Striped Racer upon a brood of Black-throated Gray Warblers. The female
parent was much excited, flying from twig to twig, calling, and
fluttering her wings. Near by, on the ground, was one of the young
warblers. There was good evidence that the snake had already swallowed
another member of the brood." This warbler seems to have escaped any
interference by cowbirds.

_Fall._--The southward migration begins in September and is mainly
accomplished during that month; Washington is generally vacated during
September, but migration continues through California during the first
half of October; after the middle of October even southern California is
deserted, and the black-throated gray warblers have gone to their winter
haunts in Mexico.


_Range._--Western North America from central British Columbia to
southern Mexico.

_Breeding range._--The black-throated gray warbler breeds =north= to
southwestern British Columbia (Hagensborg and Lillooet). =East= to
southwestern British Columbia (Lillooet and Chilliwack); western
Washington (Bellingham and Leavenworth); central northern Oregon (The
Dalles); possibly southwestern Idaho (Riddle); southwestern Wyoming,
possibly (Mountain); western and southern Colorado (probably Escalante
Hills, Coventry, and the Culebra Range); central New Mexico (Santa Fe);
and northeastern Sonora (San Luis Mountains). =South= to northeastern
Sonora (San Luis Mountains); southeastern to north-central Arizona
(Huachuca Mountains, Santa Rita Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains, and
Bill Williams Mountain); and northeastern Baja California (Sierra San
Pedro Mártir). =West= to northern Baja California (Sierra San Pedro
Mártir); western California (San Jacinto Mountains, Glendora, Santa
Lucia Peak, and Lakeport); western Oregon (Kirby, Coos Bay, Corvallis,
and Portland); western Washington (Spirit Lake and Shelton); and
southwestern British Columbia (Victoria, Stuart Island, and Hagensborg).

_Winter range._--The principal winter home of the black-throated gray
warbler is in western Mexico. It is found in winter =north= to extreme
southern Arizona (Yuma, occasionally in the Baboquivari Mountains, and
Tucson). =East= to southeastern Arizona (Tucson); eastern Sonora (Tesia
and Alamos); southwestern Durango (Chacala); northern Michoacán
(Patambán); Mexico (city of Mexico); and central Oaxaca (Oaxaca).
=South= to central Oaxaca. =West= to western Oaxaca (La Parada);
Guerrero (Chilpancingo); western Michoacán (Los Reyes); southern Sinaloa
(Escuinapa and Mazatlán); southern Baja California (Victoria Mountains
and San José del Rancho); and southwestern Arizona (Yuma). It has also
been found at this season casually, south to Dueñas, Guatemala, and
north to Pasadena and Eureka, Calif., and Cameron County, Tex.

_Migration._--Early dates of spring arrival are: New Mexico--Cooney,
April 6. Arizona--Santa Rita Mountains, March 21. California--Grass
Valley, March 24. Oregon--Portland, April 14. Washington--Tacoma, April
10. British Columbia--Chilliwack, April 16.

Late dates of fall departure are: British Columbia--Courtenay, September
7. Washington--Yakima, October 27. Oregon--Eugene, October 11.
California--Diablo, November 11. Arizona--Phoenix, November 8.

_Casual records._--A black-throated gray warbler was picked up dead at
Lenox, Mass., on December 8, 1923. A specimen was collected at Ithaca,
N. Y., on November 15, 1936. On December 8, 1941, an individual was
observed on Bull's Island, S. C.; and from December 26, 1942, to January
5, 1943, one was under observation at Miami, Fla.

_Egg dates._--Arizona: 12 records, May 4 to June 19; 7 records, May 17
to 26.

California: 32 records, May 1 to July 3; 18 records, May 20 to June 10,
indicating the height of the season.

Washington: 8 records, May 29 to June 28; 5 records, June 5 to 23




This warbler always reminds me of our familiar black-throated green
warbler, which it resembles slightly in color pattern but more
particularly in its habits and its drowsy song. Its voice is as much
associated with the northwestern forests of tall firs as is that of our
eastern bird with the pine woods of New England. Its breeding range is
confined to the coniferous forests from Prince William Sound and the
upper Yukon in Alaska south to Washington and east to southwestern
Alberta and western Montana, but it is better known as a migrant through
the Rocky Mountain region in general and as a winter visitant in

Samuel F. Rathbun writes to me from Seattle, Wash., that Townsend's
warbler is widely distributed throughout that region. "It is found in
the lowlands to some extent as a summer resident, but by far the greater
number of the birds will be found summering in the more mountainous and
unsettled parts of the region. In some parts it is abundant. During the
migrations I have noted it following the deciduous growth and nearby
conifers along water courses, but when settled in its summer home, it is
almost entirely restricted to the high conifers, a habit that seems to
be followed even during rainy and stormy days. I am of the opinion that
it must nest at a considerable height, for on several occasions I have
seen the birds carrying material into trees at a height of over one
hundred feet."

Taylor and Shaw (1927) write: "On entering the great forest of the
Pacific Northwest, with its solitude, the deep-shaded grandeur of its
brown-barked pillars and its stillness, one can almost imagine himself
in a different world. Incessantly repeated, apparently from the very
crowns of the trees, comes the song of the Townsend warbler, denizen of
upper foliage strata. Found in early summer from Alaska south to the
State of Washington, the Townsend warbler finds on Mount Rainier
approximately the southern limit of its breeding range." Similar haunts
seem to have been chosen wherever the species has been found breeding.

_Spring._--The spring migration, apparently directly northward from
Mexico, seems to be quite prolonged. Dr. Alexander F. Skutch tells me
that the last of the winter visitors do not leave Guatemala until about
the first of May. Professor Cooke (1904) says that "an early migrating
Townsend warbler was seen on April 9 in the Huachuca Mountains of
Arizona. Migrants from Mexico begin to enter southern California April
14 to 20. * * * First arrivals have been reported from Loveland, Colo.,
May 11, 1889." And "the average date of the first seen during five years
at Columbia Falls, Mont., is May 7." Mrs. Amelia S. Allen writes to me
from Berkeley, Calif., that Townsend's warbler is an abundant fall and
spring migrant in California, where it is also a common winter visitant.
"In the spring they begin to increase about the middle of March, when
singing flocks go through the live oak trees, feeding on the small oak
worms. They become less conspicuous after the middle of April, but if
there are rains in the first half of May to delay migrations, occasional
flocks are seen. My latest date is May 17, 1915."

Rathbun, in his Washington notes, writes: "In the spring of 1916, in the
Lake Crescent region, a great majority of the individuals came in two
distinct waves. The first occurred on April 28 and this lasted for two
days, on the second of which the birds were less numerous. After an
interval of a day on which we failed to see any of these warblers, there
followed a second wave, on May 1, much larger than the one preceding. It
consisted of hundreds of these warblers, together with individuals of
other species, the main body of which followed the belt of deciduous
trees along the shore of the lake. This fact we verified by ascending
the adjacent mountain side to a considerable elevation during the
movement, where we found but few birds. Descending to the lake level to
note the migration, we found the birds close to the ground, the trees
being of small size. As most of the Townsend's warblers were males in
high plumage, the sight was most attractive. All were in constant song
and flitting about with rapid movements. In their company were many
chestnut-backed chickadees, a few Sitka kinglets, many Hammond's
flycatchers, and now and then an Audubon's warbler and a red-breasted
nuthatch. This movement began about half past eight in the morning and
lasted until ten o'clock, when the number of birds began to diminish
rapidly, and during the remainder of the day was inconsequential."

On April 25, 1917, he saw a similar flight at the same place. "The day
was rather warm and somewhat overcast, and the wave continued
intermittently throughout the greater part of the day, the song of
Townsend's warbler being much in evidence most of the time. In this
movement the birds passed by in small detached companies at intervals,
but the aggregate number was large."

_Nesting._--Not too much is known about the nesting habits of Townsend's
warbler, but enough is known to indicate that nests reported in willows
during the last century were evidently wrongly identified. The species
is now known to nest only in firs, though possibly it may sometimes be
found to select other conifers as nesting sites. Nests and eggs are
still very scarce in collections.

The first authentic nests were found by J. H. Bowles (1908) near Lake
Chelan, Wash., on June 20, 1908. The two nests, each containing four
newly hatched young--

were both placed about twelve feet up in small firs, one some five feet
out on a limb, the other close against the main trunk. Both were saddled
upon the limb, and not placed in a fork nor in a crotch.

The construction of both nests was identical, and entirely different
from any of the descriptions that I have read. They were firmly built,
rather bulky, and decidedly shallow for the nest of a warbler. The
material used appeared to be mostly cedar bark, with a few slender fir
twigs interwoven. Externally they were patched with a silvery flax-like
plant fiber, while the lining seemed to be entirely of the stems of moss
flowers. To an eastern collector it resembled an unusually bulky and
considerably flattened nest of the Black-throated Green Warbler, lacking
any sign of feathers, however, in its construction.

A nest with five eggs is in the Thayer collection in Cambridge, taken by
C. deB. Green on Graham Island, British Columbia, June 24, 1912. It is
described as placed "on top of the big limb of spruce tree," and is
large, compact, and well-built, being made largely of fine plant fibers,
mixed with strips of grasses, mosses, lichens, fine strips of inner
bark, plant down, and a few spider cocoons--all firmly woven together
and neatly and smoothly lined with long, fine, white hairs and one
feather. It measures externally 2-1/4 inches in height and 3 by 3-1/2 in
diameter; the cup is 1-1/2 inches deep and about 2 inches in diameter.

A set in my collection now in the U.S. National Museum was taken by F.
R. Decker in Chelan County, Wash., on June 23, 1923; the nest was about
15 feet up and 8 feet out on a limb of a fir tree and contained five
fresh eggs. Both birds remained close while the nest was being taken.
Two nests in the Doe Museum, at Gainesville, Fla., were taken by J. H.
Bowles in Washington, 9 and 10 feet up in small, slender firs, June 2
and 4.

_Eggs._--Either 3, 4, or 5 eggs are the numbers in the few recorded
sets. The 5 eggs in the Thayer collection are ovate and have only a
slight gloss. The white ground color is speckled and spotted with tones
of "bay," "auburn," "chestnut brown," "Mars brown," or "russet," with
undertones of "pale brownish drab," or "vinaceous drab." Some of the
eggs have markings of two or three shades of the darker browns, such as
"bay," or "auburn," while others have tones of a single lighter brown,
such as "russet," interspersed with the drab spots. There is not a well
defined wreath on any of these eggs, although the spots are denser at
the large end. The measurements of 40 eggs average 17.4 by 12.9
millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =19.0= by 12.7,
17.3 by =13.6=, =15.2= by 12.7, and 17.4 by =12.3= millimeters (Harris).

_Plumages._--Maj. Allan Brooks (1934) gives the following good
description of the juvenal plumage of Townsend's warbler: "Upper surface
brownish olive, greener on dorsum and grayer on crown; lores and
auriculars dusky brown, a broad supercilium and malar stripe whitish,
faintly tinged with yellow; chin and throat dusky olive gray passing
into white on the ventral region and crissum, the flanks and breast
streaked with dusky; wings with two white bars formed by the tips of the
greater and lesser coverts, tertials edged with ash gray, the black
central shafts of the white bars seen in the second (first winter)
plumage are barely indicated; tail as in second plumage."

Evidently the juvenal plumage is worn for only a very short time, for in
the bird thus described, collected on July 7, "a few yellow feathers of
the second plumage are appearing." Apparently, the postjuvenal molt is
completed in July and August, and involves the contour plumage and the
wing coverts only.

The young male in first winter plumage is similar to the old male at
that season, but with less black on the head and throat, cheeks more
olive, black streaks on back and sides obsolete, and yellow of the
throat paler. The young female differs from the adult female in a
similar way. There is evidently a partial prenuptial molt in late winter
or early spring, but I have not been able to trace it. Apparently the
black throat is acquired by the young male at this molt, and perhaps
enough of the head and body plumage to make the young bird appear nearly
adult, though the worn and faded juvenal wings and tail will distinguish

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in July and August. Ridgway
(1902) describes the fall and winter male plumage as "similar to the
spring and summer plumage, but all the black areas much broken or
obscured; that of the pileum and hindneck by broad olive-green margins
to the feathers, the black forming mesial or central streaks, that of
the auricular patch overlaid by olive-green tips to the feathers, and
that of the throat replaced by nearly uniform lemon yellow, with black
appearing as spots or blotches on sides of chest; black streaks on back,
etc., more or less concealed." The adult female fall plumage is "similar
to the spring and summer plumage, but upper parts slightly browner
olive-green, with the streaks obsolete, or nearly so; sides and flanks
tinged with brownish."

Although considerable wearing away of the concealing tips of the
feathers occurs during the winter, thus brightening the nuptial plumage,
there is evidently at least a partial prenuptial molt, especially about
the head and throat, at which the clear black throat of the male is
assumed and perhaps more of the body plumage renewed.

Stanley G. Jewett (1944) describes four specimens of adult males that
are clearly hybrids between this species and the hermit warbler.

_Food._--Professor Beal (1907) examined the contents of 31 stomachs of
Townsend's warblers taken in California from October through January, of
which he says: "The animal food consists of insects and a few spiders,
and amounts to over 95 percent of the food during the time specified. Of
this, bugs make up 42 percent, mostly stink-bugs (Pentatomidae) and a
few leaf-hoppers and scales." Several stomachs were entirely filled with

Hymenoptera, consisting of both wasps and ants, are eaten to the extent
of 25 percent of the food. Most of them are winged species. Perhaps the
most striking point in the food of this bird is the great number of
weevils or snout-beetles represented. They amount to over 20 percent of
the food, while all other beetles form less than 1 percent. The greater
number of these insects were of the species _Diodyrhynchus byturoides_,
a weevil which destroys the staminate blossoms of coniferous trees. Five
stomachs contained, respectively, 68, 65, 53, 50, and 35 of these
beetles, or 271 in all. * * * Representatives also of another family of
snout-beetles very destructive to timber were present in a few stomachs.
These were the engravers (Scolytidae), which lay their eggs beneath the
bark of trees, where they hatch, and the larvae bore in every direction.
Caterpillars and a few miscellaneous insects and some spiders make up
the remainder of the animal food.

The less than 5 percent of vegetable food "consists of a few seeds and
leaf galls."

Gordon W. Gullion tells me that in Eugene, Oreg., from early January
until the first of April 1948, Townsend's warblers were observed at a
feeding station almost daily, eating cheese, marshmallows, and peanut

_Behavior._--A marked characteristic of Townsend's warblers is their
fondness for the tree tops, especially on their breeding grounds and to
some extent at other seasons. In the coniferous forests which they
frequent in summer, they confine their activities almost entirely to the
tops of the tallest fir trees, where they travel rapidly, stopping only
long enough to glean their food and then hastening onward, returning,
perhaps, over the same trees in their active restless foraging.

Later in the summer and as migration time draws near, they are
frequently seen at lower levels, among deciduous trees and in second
growth woods, often in association with kinglets, chickadees, other
warblers, and juncos.

_Voice._--Mrs. Allen (MS.) renders the song as a "_weazy weazy weazy
weazy tweea_, rising in spirals, and the call-note a soft _chip_, not so
metallic as the lutescent's, and less emphatic than the Audubon's."
According to Rathbun (MS.), "its song is heard during May and June quite
persistently under all climatic conditions." Dr. Merrill (1898) says
that the song, as he heard it in Idaho, "usually consists of five notes,
_deé deé deé--d[=e] d[=e]_, all, especially the first three, uttered in
the peculiar harsh drawl of _D. virens_. Later in the season this song
changes somewhat." This second song was heard in low second growth. Mr.
Rathbun also refers in his notes to a different song, heard in some
young second growth; the bird was "singing softly as if to itself, this
being a much more finished performance than the ordinary song, although
identical in construction, the distinction being an elaboration of the
song in full in softer tones." Ralph Hoffmann (1927) found the song of
Townsend's warbler difficult to distinguish from that of the
black-throated gray warbler. "The Townsend Warbler's song has less of
the drawling inflection in the opening notes than the Black-throated
Gray's and often ends with a prolonged _ee-zee_. A song noted by the
writer in the Olympics in western Washington was transcribed as a hoarse
_swee swee swee zee_."

_Field marks._--The adult male Townsend's warbler is distinctively
marked, having the crown, cheeks, and throat black, with bright yellow
spaces between these areas, and an olive-green back and bright yellow
breast, both streaked with black; it has two prominent white wing bars
and considerable white on the outer tail feathers. The female has a
similar pattern, but the colors are much duller and she has no black
throat. Young and adults in the fall are much like the adult female in
spring, but are more or less clouded with brownish. There is no other
western warbler that is much like it.

_Fall._--Theed Pearse tells me that he has seen Townsend's warblers on
migration through Vancouver Island, British Columbia, as early as August
13 and as late as October 9, but gives no winter records. Rathburn gives
me two winter records for the vicinity of Seattle, Wash.; D. E. Brown
took two males on January 9, 1921, and saw "a number of others"; and a
week later he collected a female. These were doubtless, winter casuals,
as the summer residents and transients pass through Oregon in October or

Mrs. Allen writes to me from Berkeley, Calif.: "The Townsend Warbler is
an abundant fall and spring migrant and a common winter visitant. In
Berkeley the average date of arrival in the fall is September 28 (18
records), the earliest August 27, 1931. They are most abundant during
October, after which they are reduced to winter numbers."

Henshaw (1875) writes:

At Mount Graham, Ariz., in September, this warbler was found in
considerable numbers, though the few taken were procured with no little
difficulty, for they almost invariably were seen in the tops of the
tallest trees, where a glimpse might now and then be had of them as they
dashed out after flying insects, or flew from tree to tree in their
always onward migratory course. The tracts of pine woods they shunned
entirely, but affected the firs and spruces, and their flights from
point to point were regulated and made longer and shorter by the
presence or absence of these trees. Their movements were exceedingly
rapid; a moment spent in passing in and out the interlacing branches, a
few hurried sweeps at their extremities, and they were off to the next
adjoining tree to repeat the process again and again till lost sight of
in the dense woods.

_Winter._--A few straggling Townsend's warblers spend the winter
occasionally as far north as Oregon and Washington; the species is
fairly common from central California southward; but the main body of
the species retires to Mexico and Central America. Mrs. Allen tells me
that they are quite abundant in the redwood trees of California in
winter; and in midwinter, she has "many records of their coming under
the eaves of the house, where they seem to be taking spiders."

Dr. Skutch has contributed the following account: "Townsend's warblers
winter in vast numbers in the highlands of Guatemala. From their arrival
in September until shortly before the departure of the last in May, I
considered these the most abundant of all birds, whether resident or
migratory, between 7,000 and 10,000 feet above sea-level on the Sierra
de Tecpán in west-central Guatemala. Here they were almost equally
numerous in the forest of pine, oak, alder and arbutus and in the nearly
pure stands of lofty cypress trees (_Cupressus benthamii_) on the
mountain-top. But they are widespread over the Guatemalan altos, from
5,000 to 10,000 feet above sea-level, and even pass the winter at
considerably lower altitudes, where pine woods locally replace the
broad-leafed forest prevalent in these less elevated regions. Thus on
the Finca Mocá, a huge coffee plantation lying on the southern side of
the Volcán Atitlán, a local stand of pine reaches to about 3,000 feet
above sea-level. Among these pines I found Townsend's warblers wintering
down to at least 3,400 feet, in company with such birds as hermit
warblers and Coues' flycatchers--all of them highland species which I
failed to find at so low an altitude in the neighboring dicotyledonous
woods more typical of the region.

"By the time the Townsend's warblers began to arrive from the North, the
great majority of the resident birds of the Sierra de Tecpán had
finished breeding for the year, and those of sociable habits had begun
to flock. The pretty Hartlaub's warblers (_Vermivora superciliosa_)
formed the nuclei of the mixed companies of small birds which roamed
through the rain-drenched woods at the beginning of September. The newly
arrived Townsend's warblers at once joined these flocks, falling in with
the resident birds as though they had never been absent in far northern
lands. Soon they outnumbered all other birds in these motley parties.
They were monotonously abundant; and despite their beauty, I was more
than once exasperated, when I had striven until my neck ached to obtain
an adequate glimpse of some small, elusive bird flitting through the
high treetops, to find at last that it was just one more Townsend's
warbler. There was always another of the same kind much lower among the
branches, which I might have admired with less flexure of the neck! At
5,000 feet and below, the plainly attired Tennessee warbler replaces the
elegant Townsend's warbler as the most abundant member of the mixed

"By the middle of April, the Townsend's warblers on the Sierra de Tecpán
began to sing--a dreamy, lazy sort of song, which reminded me much of
that of the black-throated green warbler. Through the remainder of the
month, I repeatedly heard this simple song, sounding always as though it
came from far away. Soon the ranks of the Townsend's warblers began to
thin; and after May 2 I saw them no more. Males were present as late as
April 28; but the last that I saw, on May 2, was a female. The
withdrawal of the countless black-and-yellow warblers, together with
that of the other migratory species that flocked with them, left a void
among the treetops, which was not filled until their return just 4
months later.

"Early dates of fall arrival in Guatemala are: Guatemala City (Anthony),
September 7; Sierra de Tecpán, September 2, 1933; Huehuetenango,
September 11, 1934. Late dates of spring departure from Guatemala are:
Guatemala City (Anthony), May 1; Sierra de Tecpán, May 2, 1933."

Dickey and van Rossem (1938) say that "Townsend's warbler is a decidedly
uncommon species in El Salvador, which probably marks about the southern
limit of the winter range. The winter distribution, locally, is
practically confined to the oaks and pines of the interior mountains
where conditions most closely parallel those prevailing in the breeding


_Range._--Western North America.

_Breeding range._--Townsend's warbler breeds =north= to southern Alaska
(Seldovia, Port Nell Juan, and Cordova); and southern Yukon (Lapie River
and Sheldon Lake). =East= to eastern Yukon (Sheldon Lake and Lake
Marsh); central to southeastern British Columbia (Atlin, Bear Lake,
Tacla Lake, and Revelstoke); southwestern Alberta (Banff National Park);
and western Montana (Fortine, Columbia Falls, Great Falls, and Red
Lodge). =South= to central southern Montana (Red Lodge); northwestern
Wyoming (Mammoth Hot Springs); northern Idaho (Falcon and Moscow); and
southern Washington (Blue Mountains, Preston, and Mount Adams). =West=
to western Washington (Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Seattle, and
Bellingham); western British Columbia (Comox, Vancouver Island, and the
Queen Charlotte Islands); and southern Alaska (Craig, Baranof Island,
Glacier, Cordova, and Seldovia).

_Winter range._--The Townsend's warbler is found in winter in two widely
separated areas. It is found in varying numbers in the coastal region of
California from Mount St. Helena, Sonoma County, south to San Diego, and
on the Santa Barbara Islands. A specimen collected at Patagonia,
southeastern Arizona on December 3, may have been wintering. It also
winters in the mountains of western Mexico and Central America from
Guerrero (Tlalixtaquilla); and the Federal District (Tlalpan); through
Oaxaca (La Parada and Totontepec); Guatemala (Huehuetenango, Tecpán,
Dueñas, and Guatemala); El Salvador (Los Esesmiles and Mount
Cacaguatique); to central northern Nicaragua (Matagalpa).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure are: El Salvador--San José
del Sacore, March 16. Guatemala--Tecpán, May 2. Nayarit--Tres Marías
Islands, May 11. Sonora--Oposura, May 31. Texas--Boot Spring, Chisos
Mountains, May 16. New Mexico--Rinconada, May 6. Arizona--Rock Canyon,
Santa Catalina Mountains, May 25. California--Buena Vista, May 10.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Hidalgo--Jacala, March 28.
New Mexico--Apache, April 23. Arizona--Tombstone, April 3.
Colorado--Loveland, May 11. Wyoming--Cheyenne, May 11. Montana--Columbia
Falls, May 4. Idaho--Coeur d'Alene, April 29. Oregon--Sutherlin, April
21. Washington--Bellingham, April 25. British Columbia--Courtenay, March
28; Atlin, May 18. Alaska--Craig, April 27.

Late dates of fall departure are: Alaska--Ketchikan, September 5.
British Columbia--Atlin, September 1; Okanagan Landing, September 15.
Washington--Tacoma, October 3. Alberta--Jasper Park, September 8.
Idaho--Priest River, September 10. Montana--Missoula, August 31.
Wyoming--Laramie, October 18. Colorado--Fort Morgan, October 12.
Utah--Bryce Canyon, October 7. Arizona--Mineral Creek, Pinal County,
November 2. New Mexico--near Corona, October 18. Oklahoma--Kenton,
September 27. Texas--Glenn Springs, Brewster County, October 19.
Chihuahua--Durazno, November 7.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Oregon--Fremont National Forest, August
20. California--August 26. Utah--Beaver Creek Canyon, August 10.
Arizona--San Francisco Mountain, August 21. Wyoming--Laramie, August 11.
Colorado--Estes Park, August 14. New Mexico--Apache, August 2.
Texas--Pulliam Canyon, Chisos Mountains, August 26. Chihuahua--Saltillo,
August 28. Guatemala--Tecpán, September 2. El Salvador--Divisadero,
September 27.

_Casual records._--On May 12, 1868, a Townsend's warbler was collected
near Coatesville, Pa. A female specimen was collected September 17,
1939, at Gulfport, Miss. On August 18, 1934 one was reported seen at
East Hampton, Long Island; another was closely observed by several
competent observers in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, N. Y., May 8 to 10,

_Egg dates._--British Columbia: 2 records, June 7 and 24.

Oregon: 3 records, June 7 to 21.

Washington: 18 records, May 24 to June 24; 9 records, June 8 to 19,
indicating the height of the season (Harris).



PLATES 36-38


The northern black-throated green warbler I have always associated with
the white pine woods, the delightful fragrance of fallen pine needles
carpeting the forest floor, and the murmuring of the warm summer breeze.
The song has been written as "trees, trees, murmuring trees,"
appropriate words that seem to call vividly to mind the pretty little
bird in its sylvan haunts and its delicious and soothing voice.

In southeastern Massachusetts, from late April until after midsummer one
can seldom wander far in the thick groves of white pine (_Pinus
strobus_), either in the open stands or in mixed woods where these pines
predominate, without hearing the delightful drawling notes of this
warbler, though the tiny singer in the tree-tops is not so easily seen.
It is not, however, exclusively confined even in the breeding season to
such woods, for sometimes we find it in open stands of pitch pines
(_Pinus rigida_) or in old neglected pastures and hillsides where there
is a scattered growth of red cedars (_Juniperus virginiana_).

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that, in the Monadnock region
of New Hampshire, the black-throated green warbler is "a very common or
abundant summer bird through all the region, high and low; ranging from
the pine woods of the lowest valleys to the half open copses of spruce
and mountain ash along Monadnock's rocky ridge--2,500 to 3,160 feet.
* * * Though decidedly a forest Warbler, it favors second growth, and
pasture-bordering copses, rather than the very heavy timber, and is
particularly partial to dry white pine woods."

Farther north, in the Canadian Zone, these warblers are at home in the
forests of spruce and fir, but even here they seem to prefer pines, if
they can find them, for Ora W. Knight (1908) says that in Maine "in the
breeding season they resort to the pine woods by preference, and as a
result are rather common in the pine barrens of the coastal plain.
Inland the species is common, and while preferring the pines still, also
occurs in rather open mixed woods where cedars, hemlocks and spruces
predominate, and in northern Maine is found in spruce woods, seemingly
because no other kinds are available."

Farther west, in northern Michigan, this warbler breeds on the open jack
pine plains and in mixed growths containing a fair percentage of other
conifers. Frank A. Pitelka (1940b) writes: "During the breeding season
the Black-throated Green Warbler is one of the more frequent
Compsothlypids in the conifer regions of northern lower Michigan, though
it is by no means to be included among the common birds. Locally it
occurs in spruces of mature bog communities and in upland developmental
forests of mixed pine and deciduous growth."

In western Pennsylvania, "its local breeding range is correlated rather
closely with the distribution of the white pine and the hemlock. Where
these conifers prevail, the Black-throated Green appears, although in
the mountains it is by no means averse to hardwood timber, if high and
dense" (Todd, 1940). And, in the Pymatuning Swamp region, "wherever tall
black birches and equally tall, slender hemlocks grew side by side, the
Black-throated Green Warblers were almost sure to be found, and no less
than twenty pairs were located" (Sutton, 1928). Referring to the central
Allegheny Mountain region, Prof. Maurice Brooks (1940) says that "this
species, in its distribution within our area, presents one of the most
puzzling problems with which we have to deal. It occurs everywhere at
high elevations, in spruce, hemlock, northern hardwoods, white pine,
oak-pine scrub, and oak-hickory."

Still farther south, on Mount Mitchell, in western North Carolina,
Thomas D. Burleigh (1941) found it to be "a plentiful breeding bird in
the thick fir and spruce woods at the top of the mountain, appearing in
April when the ground is frequently still covered with snow and
lingering in the fall until early October."

_Spring._--From its winter home in Mexico and Central America, the
black-throated green warbler, starting early in March, migrates
northward through eastern Texas and up the Mississippi Valley, mainly in
the forested areas. I noted it in the great wave of warblers migrating
along the Texas coastal islands early in May. The fact that it is so
rare in southern Florida, and still rarer in Cuba, suggests that many
individuals must make the perilous flight from Yucatan across the Gulf
of Mexico to the Gulf States. From Louisiana it takes a more
northeasterly route, mainly along the Alleghenies, to New England and
beyond. It is one of the earlier warblers to arrive in Massachusetts,
often during the last week in April. The birds come along in waves, the
first wave consisting mainly of males and later waves containing the
females in larger numbers. The passage of individuals seems to be fairly
rapid, but the species may be present for nearly a month at any point
along its migration route. While migrating it may be seen, like other
warblers, almost anywhere--in the tops of woodland trees, in roadside
trees and shrubbery, in gardens and in parks, before it settles down in
its favorite breeding haunts. There must be a very heavy migration
through Ohio, for Milton B. Trautman (1940) says that in the "larger
flight 50 to 125 were daily recorded, and it was evident that there were
several thousands present."

_Nesting._--Although the black-throated green warbler is one of our
commonest breeding warblers, I have never found its nest in my home
territory, though I have spent many hours hunting for it in its favorite
pine woods. While hunting through a somewhat open tract of pitch pines
on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on June 8, 1919, with Frank C. Willard, we
found a nest with four fresh eggs 8 feet from the ground in a small
pine; it was saddled on an upward-slanting limb and partially supported
by a whorl of three small branches. It was a pretty nest, made of
grasses, seaweed, and strips of inner bark, and was lined with fine
grasses, cowhair, horsehair, and a few white feathers. The male was
incubating and was very tame, coming within a few feet of us; he also
returned and sat on the empty nest after Mr. Willard had removed the

On June 4, 1910, Herbert K. Job showed me a nest near New Haven, Conn.,
in mixed deciduous woods; it was about 11 feet from the ground, built
against the trunk of a large chestnut sprout and supported by a small
dead branch and two live twigs; the leaves on this twig screened the
nest from above, one leaf forming a complete canopy over the nest, the
tip of it being tucked into the rim. It was made largely of materials
similar to those in the one previously described, there being three
large feathers on the rim and many small feathers in the lining.

The only other nest I have ever seen was found on the island of Grand
Manan, New Brunswick, on June 11, 1891; it was placed only 3 feet from
the ground between two horizontal branches and against the trunk of a
small spruce beside a cowpath in coniferous woods. It was a compact,
deeply hollowed, structure made of fine twigs, mosses, birch bark,
strips of inner bark, and weed stems, and it was lined with white
cowhair and a few feathers.

There is a set in my collection, given to me by Fred H. Carpenter, said
to have been taken from a nest only 8 inches from the ground in a small
red cedar in an old neglected pasture in Rehoboth, Mass. The nest, now
before me, seems to be typical of the species.

The nests mentioned in some notes sent to me by Miss Cordelia J.
Stanwood, of Ellsworth, Maine, were in spruces or hemlocks at low or
moderate heights, but Knight (1908) says that "near Bangor the species
builds fifty to seventy feet up in the larger, taller pine trees." Robie
W. Tufts tells me that, of some 20 or 30 nests that he has seen in Nova
Scotia, "all have been built in conifers, including hemlock, spruce, and
pine." In New York and Pennsylvania, hemlocks seem to be the favorite
nesting trees, but nests are sometimes placed in beeches or yellow
birches; the nests in hemlocks are usually placed on horizontal branches
at a considerable height from the ground and generally well hidden in
the foliage. A nest examined by Dr. George M. Sutton (1928) at
Pymatuning Swamp "was saddled on a horizontal bough only about
twenty-five feet from the ground, in a comparatively small hemlock. The
nest was very deep and beautifully constructed, its lining including
bits of hair, fur, and soft feathers, and its foundational material
consisting chiefly of slender and uniform twigs of dead hemlock."

The two nests studied by F. A. Pitelka (1940), in northern lower
Michigan, were on horizontal branches of Norway pines (_Pinus
resinosa_), 23 and 12 feet from the ground, respectively. The materials
used in the nests were largely similar to those mentioned above, with
the addition of woollike plant fibers and short pine twigs in the
lining, and with "a considerable quantity of hypnaceous mosses and bits
of birch bark" used as trimmings.

Dr. Paul Harrington writes to me: "I have found this bird nesting in
pure deciduous forests on two occasions." One nest was 40 feet up in the
crotch of an ironwood, and the other was 20 feet from the ground in a
small elm, both in Ontario. Edward R. Ford has sent me the following
note: "On Gull Island, about ten acres in extent, which lies in
northwestern Lake Michigan, we found the black-throated green warbler in
an unusual nesting niche. About half of the island's area is northern
hardwood forest, whose floor cover is largely of American yew (_Taxus
canadensis_). At a height of but two or three feet, among the sprays of
this ground-hemlock, we discovered two nests of the species named. Each
of these, July 12, 1918, held four eggs. There was a third nest, empty
but evidently used that season."

Nests have also been found in maples, in white, gray, and black birches,
in alders and probably in other deciduous trees and bushes. And the
following unusual nesting sites are of interest: William Brewster (1906)
mentions a nest that he found "in a barberry bush growing in an open
pasture at Arlington Heights, one hundred yards or more from the nearest
woods." He also has a nest, taken by C. H. Watrous in Connecticut, that
was on the ground "among a large clump of ferns in a very low and damp
place under a heavy growth of hemlocks" (Brewster, 1895). John C. Brown
(1889), of Portland, Maine, mentions a nest that was built in a
grapevine growing luxuriantly about a pagoda at some distance from any
woods; it was well hidden from the outside by the foliage, but in plain
sight from inside the pagoda. And B. S. Bowdish (1906) records a New
Jersey nest that "was built between the stems of a 'skunk cabbage'
plant, and fastened to a catbriar and the twigs of a dead bush, and was
about fourteen inches from the ground, in a very wet part of the swamp."

Miss Stanwood (1910) watched a pair of black-throated green warblers
building a nest in a fir tree, of which she writes:

First they laid knots of spider's silk and little curls of white birch
bark in the shape of the nest, on the horizontal fork about midway of a
branch six feet long. Next bits of fine grass, a little usnea moss, and
cedar bark fibre. Both the male and female worked on the nest, until
observed, the female shaping it with the breast each time they added a
bit of material. Around the top were carefully laid the finest gray
spruce twigs. These were bound together with masses of white spider's
silk. The white curls of birch bark, the much weathered twigs, the
fluffy shining bands and knots of spider's silk, made a very dainty
looking structure. After the first morning, I did not see the male about
the nest. As a general thing, I find that, if birds are observed
building, the male usually leaves his part of the work to the female.
The lady bird continued to shape the nest with her breast, turning
around and around, as if swinging on a central pivot, just her beak and
tail showing above the rim. If I came too near, she stood up in the nest
as if to fly. If I withdrew to a respectful distance, say three yards,
she went on with her work of shaping the nest. On the second day the rim
of the nest seemed about completed. It was narrower than the rest of the
cup and beautifully turned. Nothing to speak of had been done to the
bottom. On the fourth day, by touching the inside of the nest with the
tips of my fingers, I judged that the lining was about finished. It
consisted of rabbit-hair and horse-hair, felted or woven together so as
to be very thick and firm. Between the foundation of twigs and bark and
the hair lining was a layer of fine hay of which the mouth of the nest
was chiefly shaped. I never saw a more substantial looking little nest.
It was also one of the most beautiful I have ever found, a perfect
harmony in grays.

A very pretty nest in my collection is largely made, externally, of
usnea and is profusely decorated with masses of the curly outer bark of
the yellow birch. The larger of two nests before me measures about 4 by
3-1/2 inches in outer diameter, the smaller about 3 inches; both are
about 2 inches high, nearly 2 inches wide and 1-1/2 deep inside.

_Eggs._--The black-throated green warbler usually lays 4 eggs to a set,
but quite often 5. These are ovate to short ovate and slightly glossy.
The ground color is grayish white or creamy white. The markings consist
of specks, spots, blotches, or small scrawls of reddish browns, such as
"auburn," "chestnut," "bay," "Mars brown," or "russet," with underlying
spots of "light brownish drab," "deep brownish drab," or "light purplish
drab." Generally the markings are concentrated at the larger end, where
they usually form a wreath, but occasionally the spots are well
scattered over the entire egg. There is considerable variation. Some
eggs have a faint wreath of the pale drab coloring which is relieved
with a few bold spots or scrawls of dark "bay" or "Mars brown." Others
are richly spotted and blotched equally with browns and drabs, or they
may have a solid ring of "russet" blotches which completely covers and
conceals the drab undertones. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.0
by 12.7 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =18.8=
by 12.8, 17.2, by =13.4=, =15.5= by 12.2, and 18.0 by =12.0= millimeters

_Young._--It is generally conceded that the period of incubation is
about 12 days and that the young remain in the nest from 8 to 10 days,
depending on the amount of disturbance. Probably the female does most,
or all, of the incubating and brooding, but both sexes assist in feeding
the young and in swallowing or removing the fecal sacs. Miss Stanwood
(1910b) refers to the development of the young as follows: "On the third
day the young birds grow rapidly, burnt-orange in color, covered with an
abundant supply of burnt-umber down. The quills and pin feathers showed
blue-gray through the skin, and the eyes were just beginning to open."
At another nest, "on the eighth day, the nest was simply stuffed full of
little green-gray birds, strikingly like the color of the nest.

* * * On the eleventh day, quite early in the morning, as I neared the
nesting place, I heard the fledglings calling from the tree-tops. Soon I
caught a glimpse of the Black-throated Green Warblers marshalling their
little band away."

Margaret M. and L. B. Nice (1932) made detailed studies of two nests of
this warbler, to which the reader is referred. I quote from their

1. The young in the first nest were raised with no assistance from the
male until the last two days, when he brought 11 meals in contrast to
his mate's total of more than 245. The young in the second nest were
raised entirely by the female. 2. The first female incubated for periods
ranging from 34 to 50 minutes, absenting herself for periods ranging
from 9 to 26 minutes. The second female once incubated for 99 minutes at
a stretch; her absences varied from 13 to 20 minutes. 3. Both females
brooded for longer periods than the majority of arboreal Warblers that
have been studied, averaging 15.1 and 18.3 minutes respectively. 4. Both
females fed at slow rates, the average for the first being once in 19.7
minutes, for the second once in 16.3 minutes. * * * (6). Both females
made definite efforts to get their last young out of the nest and to
lead them to a distance.

Pitelka (1940b) gives many interesting details on the home life of the
black-throated green warbler, illustrated with charts and tables that
are not suitable for inclusion here, but his paper is well worth careful

Reading and Hayes (1933) made some intimate studies of these warblers at
their nest; referring to the food of the young, they say: "Observations
at less than two feet revealed the tremendous value of these birds as
insect destroyers. Spiders, may-flies, green caterpillars (Anisota),
ants, small noctuid moths, ichneumon flies, crane flies, and many
smaller diptera made up the whole of their menu. While the few spiders
and ichneumon flies were harmless or possibly beneficial, many of the
other insects were injurious."

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down sepia-brown and
describes the juvenal plumage, in which the sexes are alike, as "above,
sepia-brown or drab. Wings and tail dull black, edged with ashy or
olive-gray; two wing bands white; the outer three rectrices largely
white. Below, dull white, dusky on the throat, spotted on the breast and
sides with dull olive-brown. Indistinct grayish white superciliary line.
Dusky transocular streak."

A partial postjuvenal molt, beginning in July and involving the contour
plumage and the wing coverts but not the rest of the wings or the
tail, produces the first winter plumage, in which the sexes are
distinguishable. He describes the young male as--

above, greenish olive-yellow, the upper tail coverts ashy or plumbeous
gray edged with olive yellow. The feathers of the crown and back
especially have concealed black shaft streaks. The wing coverts are
black, edged with olive green; two broad white wing bands tipped faintly
with yellow. Below, faint primrose-yellow, white on the crissum; the
breast and a spot on the flanks canary, the chin, sides of head and neck
and superciliary line bright lemon-yellow; a variable area on the throat
seldom including the chin, black, veiled by long narrow edgings, the
sides and flanks broadly streaked and similarly veiled. Transocular and
rictal streaks dusky; lores grayish. * * * In first winter plumage the
female is browner than the male, without the black throat and the side
streaks obscure; some specimens with much black may, however, easily be
mistaken for dull first winter males.

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt,
"which involves chiefly the head, chin and throat and not the rest of
the plumage. The black chin is assumed by the male and the forehead
becomes yellower by moult, wear removing the edgings everywhere so that
the streakings below and the throat become jet-black. Young and old
become practically indistinguishable, except that the wings and tail of
the young bird will average browner and more worn with the edgings
duller." In the female, "the first nuptial plumage differs very little
from the first winter, wear bringing out the streaking, while a few
feathers are assumed by moult on the chin."

A complete postnuptial molt occurs in July, producing the adult winter
plumage, in which the male "differs somewhat from the first winter, the
black of the throat extending uninterruptedly to the apex of the chin,
further down on the throat, and in broader stripes on the sides; the
wings and tail are blacker and the edgings grayer, especially on the
tertiaries; the concealed black of the back more extensive. The veiling
is conspicuous on the throat." The adult winter female is much like the
first winter male, "and may have considerable black on the throat, and
even the chin."

The adult nuptial plumage is acquired mainly by wear, with only slight
indications of molt, as in the young bird. Dr. Dwight says of the
female: "The adult nuptial plumage is, in extreme examples, hardly
distinguishable from the male, but usually the black is much restricted
and the chin yellow, merely spotted with black."

_Food._--We have only scattering reports on the food of the
black-throated green warbler. S. A. Forbes (1883) examined the stomach
of one taken in an orchard infested with canker-worms in Illinois, and
found it to contain 70 percent of these destructive caterpillars, 15
percent beetles, 5 percent Hemiptera, and the remaining 10 percent
Hymenoptera, gnats, coleopterous larvae and mites. Five stomachs of
Nebraska birds, collected by Professor Aughey (1878), contained an
average of 23 locusts and 21 other insects. Of twelve specimens examined
by F. H. King (1883) in Wisconsin, "one had eaten a moth; three, seven
caterpillars; one, two diptera; one, six larvae--probably caterpillars;
three, eleven beetles; and one, a heteroptera."

Knight (1908) from Maine writes: "The food consists almost entirely of
insects, including beetles, flies, moths, spiders, grubs, larvae and in
general the sorts of insects found on the limbs and foliage of the
various evergreen trees and especially on the pines. Only rarely do they
take their prey in the air, preferring to diligently seek it out among
the branches and foliage."

Probably all the items mentioned in the food of the young are also eaten
by the adults. Forbush (1929) adds to the list leaf rollers,
leaf-eating caterpillars of various kinds, and plant-lice. Evidently
these warblers are among the best protectors of our forest trees. W. B.
Barrows (1912) says that they are "particularly fond of the berries of
the poison-ivy, and to a less extent of those of the junipers." J. K.
Terres (1940) saw them tearing open the nests of tent caterpillars,
devouring large quantities of the larvae, which were about
three-quarters of an inch long.

_Behavior._--Although the black-throated green warbler is one of our
tamest and most confiding wood warblers, as shown by the intimate
studies of its home life made by several observers, it is much more
often heard than seen, for it is a tiny mite and spends most of its time
in the tree-tops, gleaning in the foliage of both coniferous and
deciduous trees. As Miss Stanwood (1910b) says: "The bird is quick in
its movements, but often spends periods of some length on one tree,
frequently coming down low to peep inquisitively at an observer, once in
a while flying toward a person as if to alight on his hand or head."
Forbush (1929) draws a picture of its confidence: "Like all the wood
warblers it is fond of bathing, its bath tub often some pool in a
mountain trout brook. One day as I stood beside such a brook, a very
lovely male, disregarding my presence, alighted on a stone at my feet,
and at once hopped into the clear spring water and performed his
ablutions, dipping into the stream and throwing off the sparkling drops
in little showers. As he stood there in the sunlight which streamed
through an opening in the tree-tops, he left an enduring picture in my

Those who have studied the home life of the black-throated green warbler
have noted its intolerance of some avian intruders in the vicinity of
its nest, and its tolerance of others. Pitelka (1940b) writes:

On the eighth day after the hatching, a red squirrel (_Sciurus
hudsonicus_) was observed to approach the blind, coming to within seven
feet of the nest. At this time, the female simply left the vicinity of
the nest at once and gave no alarm notes. Later the same day, when a
young Black and White Warbler approached the nest to a distance of five
feet, the female pounced upon it and struck with considerable force.
When the intruder returned a second time the female flew at it and drove
it away. The indifference to red squirrels and at the same time the
offensive reaction toward small passerine intruders (_Vireo olivaceus_
and _Penthestes atricapillus_) has also been noted by the Nices (1932:

Reading and Hayes (1933) write: "While at the nest, we noticed an
inquisitive Chestnut-sided Warbler in a maple a short distance away. He
hung around for several minutes, peering at us, until suddenly the male,
ably seconded by his mate, attacked him and drove him off. A male
Blackburnian met the same fate a little while later, while peacefully
hunting insects in the big spruce and, about an hour after that a
Red-eyed Vireo changed his intended route at the first warning note and
promptly withdrew. Curiously enough, a small family of Black-capped
Chickadees travelling slowly through the spruce was totally

The black-throated green warbler is seldom bothered by the cowbird,
although mentioned by several writers as imposed upon.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders has sent me the following full account of
the two songs of the black-throated green warbler: "The quality of the
songs is sweet and musical and exceedingly pleasing. With the possible
exception of the yellow warbler, this species has the most attractive of
the _Dendroica_ songs. The quality has something indescribable that is
all its own and enables those familiar with it to recognize the song,
however variable the form.

"The black-throated green warbler has two distinct forms of song. Both
may be sung by the same individual, and both are equally common in the
migration and through the nesting season, so that they cannot be
considered as territory and nesting songs. I distinguish them as first
and second, but my choice is purely arbitrary. Both are delivered in the
same quality. The first is a little longer than the second, for it
contains more notes; but it is not proportionately longer, for the notes
are shorter.

"The first song has notes on three different pitches. The first notes,
three to nine but commonly four or five, are all on the same pitch,
usually the highest; the next note, usually a major third lower, is the
lowest; the next, and last, is between them. Such a song might be
written _sree sree sree sree sree tro tray_, all the notes being of
equal length. I have 34 records of this song, 23 of which follow this
form. A few are arranged with the last note highest, or lowest, or on
the same pitch as the first. The first notes are sometimes varied by
alternating short and long notes or sometimes are united in a long

"The second song consists of four or five notes only, with a definite
time arrangement--3 2 1 1 or 3 2 1 1 1; that is, the first note is three
times as long as the last and the second note twice as long. The third
and fourth notes are on the same pitch, but the others are on different
pitches, so that the song might be written _treee tray to to_, or a
5-note song _treee tray tray to-to tay_. The notes, as in the first
song, are on three different pitches, but they vary in every possible
way as to which note is highest and which lowest, so that there are six
possible arrangements of these different pitches in a 4-note song where
the last two notes are always on the same pitch. In my collection of 52
records of this song I have samples of all six, and of these 33 are of
four notes, while only 19 have the fifth note added.

"Songs of this species vary from 1-1/5 to 2 seconds in length, the first
song from 1-2/5 to 2 seconds, and the second 1-1/5 to 1-4/5 seconds. The
pitch varies from F´´´to E´´´´, a half tone less than an octave. One
peculiar song of the first type, however, was prefixed by a wren-like
chatter that was pitched on B´´, but the remaining song was normal in
pitch. Single songs average about one and a half tones in range, but the
majority of the songs of the first type range two tones, and those of
the second type two and a half tones.

"The song is to be heard from the first arrival of the species in
migration until shortly after the first of August. In 14 seasons the
average date of late song in Allegany State Park is August 2, the
earliest is July 25, 1927, and the latest August 11, 1935 and 1937.
While there is no regular revival of full song after the molt, there is
occasional singing of a primitive character."

C. Russell Mason tells me of a song in which the high, musical note was
given six times instead of the usual once. Francis H. Allen has heard
some variations in the songs and has sent me these notes: "One bird
added at the end of the familiar _zee zee zee zoo zee_ a coda of an
intricate and wrenlike quality, and sang this beautiful song constantly.
Another introduced a trill after the second note of the 'trees, trees'
song and ended it with a low note. Another bird sang a variant of the
'trees, trees' song, in which it substituted for the final high note a
lower-pitched _su-eet su-eet_ without the familiar _z_ quality." He and
Dr. W. M. Tyler heard one that "sang in addition to one of the
characteristic songs of the species an entirely unrecognizable one that
went something like _ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-zp_. The first five notes were very
thin and slight with a very short pause before the last one, and the
final note was a short emphatic buzz. Once this song ran into a
characteristic song without a pause between." He refers to the ordinary
call-note as a distinctive _chet_, suggesting that of the myrtle
warbler, but thinner. "On the occasion in early June, I heard from a
male bird a succession of chippering notes which I had formerly
attributed to the young alone. He alternated these notes with singing."

Many other somewhat similar renderings have appeared in print, both in
syllables and in human words, most of which seem to recall the song to
mind. Some of the best of the wordings are _trees, trees, murmuring
trees_ and _sleep, sleep, pretty one, sleep_ (Torrey, 1885); _good Saint
Theresa_ (Maynard, 1896); and _take it, take it, leisurely_ (Stanwood,
1910b). Miss Stanwood pays this tribute to the charm of the song: "His
voice is suggestive of the drowsy summer days, the languor of the breeze
dreamily swaying the pines, spruces, firs, and hemlocks. It recalls the
incense of evergreens, the fragrance of the wild strawberry, the
delicate perfume of the linnea. No other bird voice is so potent to
evoke that particular spell of the northern woods."

The black-throated green warbler is a most persistent singer. The Nices
(1932) say that the first warbler "gave 466 songs in a single hour and
more than 14,000 in the 94 hours of observation." According to Albert R.
Brand (1938), the approximate mean number of vibrations per second in
the song is 6,025, in the highest note 6,750 and in the lowest note
5,125. This compares with a mean of 8,900 for the black-polled warbler,
which is the shrillest passerine bird song.

_Field marks._--The conspicuous, bright yellow cheeks, the olive-green
back, the prominent black throat, the two white wing bands, and the
white outer webs of the lateral tail feathers will distinguish the male
in breeding plumage. The female is duller and has less black, or none at
all, on the throat. Young birds in the fall are much like the female.
See the descriptions under Plumages.

_Fall._--The fall migration of the black-throated green warbler begins
during the latter part of August, continuing through September and often
through much of October. It seems to be a reversal of the route followed
in the spring. Similar haunts are frequented in the fall in the company
of vast congregations of other species. A remarkable flight of various
species of warblers was seen by Rev. W. F. Henninger in Scioto County,
Ohio, an account of which is quoted by W. L. Dawson (1903) as follows:

On September 28, 1899, I ran into a company of warblers which I would
place conservatively at two thousand individuals. It was like a regular
army as it moved up a long sloping hillside, and with wonderful
rapidity. The wind was blowing almost a gale from the north, and the
birds allowed themselves to be urged before it in the direction of their
ultimate retreat, like half-stubborn autumn leaves. Lisping, chipping,
whirling, driving, they hurried on and I after at full speed, panting,
and wishing devoutly for a better chance to identify the fleeing forms.
Arrived at the top of the hill the army suddenly halted and when I
arrived breathless I had time to note the arrangement by species, not
rigid indeed, but sufficiently striking to command attention. In the
center were seen Hooded Warblers and a sprinkling of Chestnut-sides. On
either side of these in turn were Black-throated Greens and Sycamores,
about two hundred of each; while the wings proper were held by
Bay-breasts and Black-polls in enormous numbers. * * * As the birds
deployed to feed the specific lines were not quite obliterated.

_Winter._--The following notes are contributed by Dr. Alexander F.
Skutch: "The black-throated green warbler is an abundant winter resident
in the Central American mountains, where it is well distributed on both
the Caribbean and Pacific slopes. In Guatemala, it winters from 1,000 to
about 8,500 feet above sea-level, but is not abundant at either of these
extremes of altitude. Farther south, in Costa Rica, it prefers slightly
higher elevations. Here I have not recorded it between 2,000 and 2,900
feet, although the greater part of my bird-watching in the country has
been done in this altitudinal belt. From 2,900 feet, where it is rare as
a winter resident, it ranges up to nearly 10,000 feet. At this
elevation, I found it abundant on the Volcán Irazú in late November.
Less sociable than the Townsend warbler, it does not form flocks, and
except during the actual period of migration, is more often seen alone
than in the company of others of its kind.

"As a rule the black-throated green warbler arrives late, and has rarely
been recorded before mid-October. But on August 9, 1933, I found a lone
male in full nuptial plumage with a mixed flock of small resident birds
in an open oak wood on the Sierra de Tecpán in the Guatemalan highlands.
He sang his dreamy, unsubstantial song as he foraged along with his
newly found companions. I saw only one other of his kind--or possibly it
was the same individual again--before early October, when the species
began to arrive on the Sierra de Tecpán in numbers.

"Another early arrival appeared on September 28, 1938, in the yard of
the cottage I occupied at Vara Blanca, at an altitude of 5,500 feet on
the northern slope of the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica. During the
following days, it came every afternoon to forage in the low cypress
hedges that surrounded the dwelling. Possibly it was attracted to these
because of associations with its native land, for these trimmed
cypresses were the only coniferous trees in the vicinity--indeed, in
Costa Rica, the warblers find no native conifers save two species of
_Podocarpus_, a genus whose center of distribution is in the Southern
Hemisphere rather than in the North. At times the newly arrived warbler
descended to the bare ground in the flower garden, where it appeared to
find something edible. On October 2 it was for the first time
accompanied by a second of its kind. Throughout the winter months a
black-throated green warbler continued to visit these cypress hedges.

"This is another migrant warbler that plucks the dainty white protein
corpuscles from the velvety cushions at the bases of the long petioles
of the Cecropia tree. In excessively humid highland regions, as at Vara
Blanca, the wide, hollow internodes of these trees are much of the time
flooded with water, and therefore uninhabitable by the Azteca ants which
at lower elevations usually colonize them. In the absence of the ants,
whose food these tiny morsels are, the birds find an abundance of them
on the Cecropia trees. A number of small native birds, including
finches, tanagers, warblers, honeycreepers and ovenbirds (Furnariidae),
share them with the migratory warblers.

"By mid-March the males are in resplendent nuptial plumage. On April 27,
1933, I heard a male black-throated green warbler singing among the
alder trees beside a rivulet on the Sierra de Tecpán. On April 4 and 5,
1938, a male sang repeatedly at the edge of the forest at Vara Blanca;
and from this date until the disappearance of the species from the
region on April 14 I often heard their song.

"There is a certain amount of evidence that with the increasing aridity
of the dry season the black-throated green warblers withdraw early in
the year from districts on the Pacific slope where they were present
during the wetter closing months of the preceding year. Thus, on the
Sierra de Tecpán I met none between December 7 and April 20, when the
northward movement was in progress, and the birds seen were doubtless
transients rather than winter residents. And in the higher parts of the
Basin of El General in southern Costa Rica I have recorded the species
only in October, November, and December, after which the nearly rainless
season begins. But in the wetter climate of Vara Blanca, they were seen
throughout February and March until their northward departure in April.

"The black-throated green warbler withdraws from Costa Rica about the
middle of April, and by the end of the first week of May has vanished
from Guatemala.

"Early dates of fall arrival in Central America are: Guatemala--passim
(Griscom), October 15; Sierra de Tecpán, August 9, 1933; Finca Mocá,
October 29, 1934. Honduras--Tela, October 26, 1930. Costa Rica--Vara
Blanca, September 28, 1937; San José (Underwood), October 16; Basin of
El General, October 22, 1936.

"Late dates of spring departure from Central America are: Costa
Rica--Juan Viñas (Carriker), April 17; Vara Blanca, April 14, 1938.
Guatemala--passim (Griscom), May 4; Sierra de Tecpán, May 6, 1933."

The following account of its winter haunts in El Salvador by Dickey and
van Rossem (1938) is also interesting:

All through the mountainous districts, both in the interior and
coastwise, the black-throated green warbler is an extremely common
winter visitant; in fact, it constitutes, at levels between 3,500 and
5,000 feet, fully 90 per cent of the nonresident warbler population. The
numerous flocks of from a dozen to half a hundred individuals invariably
formed the nuclei about which gathered smaller numbers of other
insectivorous species resident and nonresident. The black-throated green
warbler showed decided preference for the oak and pine association at
the altitudes mentioned, although it was by no means confined to such

Many were seen in the coffee cover down to 3,000 feet on Mt.
Cacaguatique and 2,300 feet at San Salvador. A few birds reach as high
as 8,000 feet, at which level they were found in both pines and cloud
forest on Los Esesmiles. * * * The average winter range of _virens_ lies
approximately 3,000 feet below that of _townsendi_, although strays and
vagrants make the extremes of altitude nearly the same in both cases.


_Range._--Eastern North America from southern Canada to Panamá.

_Breeding range._--The black-throated green warbler breeds =north= to
central western and northeastern Alberta (Grande Prairie, Peace River
and Chipewyan); central Saskatchewan (Big River and Emma Lake); southern
Manitoba (Brandon and Hillside Beach); southern Ontario (Lac Seul,
Rossport, Chapleau, and Lake Abitibi; casual or accidental at Moose
Factory); central Quebec (Mistassini Post, Upper St. Maurice River,
Godbout, Mingan, and Natashquan); and casually in southeastern Labrador
(Battle Harbor). =East= to southeastern Quebec (Natashquan);
southwestern Newfoundland (Spruce Brook and Tompkins); Nova Scotia
(Sydney, Halifax, and Barrington); the coast of New England; Long Island
(Miller's Place); northern New Jersey (Demarest and Dover); central
Pennsylvania (Pottsville and Carlisle); central Maryland (Thurmont);
central and southeastern Virginia (Charlottesville and Dismal Swamp);
North Carolina (Lake Mattamuskeet); and central South Carolina
(Charleston). =South= to South Carolina (Charleston); northern Georgia
(Pinelog Mountains and Lookout Mountain); northeastern Alabama (Sand
Mountain); southeastern Kentucky (Big Black Mountain and Jackson);
central Michigan (Bay City and Mason County); northern Wisconsin (New
London and Ladysmith); central Minnesota (Lake Minnetonka, Mille Lacs,
and Cass Lake); southwestern Manitoba (Aweme); and southern Alberta
(Brooks). =West= to western Alberta (Brooks, Glenevis, Sturgeon Lake,
and Grande Prairie).

_Winter range._--The black-throated green warbler is found in winter
=north= to southern Texas (Arroya Colorado, Willacy County); and Yucatán
(Tunkas and Chichén-Itzá). =East= to Yucatán (Chichén-Itzá); the coast
of Quintana Roo; northeastern El Salvador (Mount Cacaguatique); eastern
Costa Rica (Volcán Irazú); and central Panamá (Veragua); casual or
accidental to northern Colombia (one record; Cincinnati, Santa Marta
region). =South= to Panamá (Veragua and Volcán de Chiriquí). =West= to
western Panamá (Volcán de Chiriquí); western Costa Rica (El General);
western El Salvador (San Salvador); western Guatemala (Volcán de Agua
and Dueñas); Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); western Morelos (Curnavaca); Puebla
(Metlatoyuca); southern Tamaulipas (Altamira); probably eastern Nuevo
León (Linares); and southern Texas (Santa Maria and Arroya Colorado).

The black-throated green warbler has apparently extended its winter
range northward in recent years. Except for a single specimen taken at
Brownsville in January 1911, it was not known to winter in Texas until
1933-34, when about 30 birds were seen. Since then it has increased and
spread over most of Cameron County and to the southern border of Willacy
County. One was recorded on Bull's Island, S. C., on January 8 and 9,

The species is also rare or casual in winter or migration in the West
Indies: Cuba (Habana and Isle of Pines); Jamaica; Haiti (Île à Vache);
Puerto Rico (Adjuntas); and the islands of St. Croix, Guadeloupe, and
Dominica; also Watling Island, Bahamas.

The ranges as outlined apply to the entire species of which two
geographic races are recognized. The northern black-throated green
warbler (_D. v. virens_) is found in all the breeding range except the
coastal region, from southeastern Virginia to South Carolina, which is
occupied by Wayne's black-throated green warbler (_D. v. waynei_).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Costa Rica--Juan Viñas, April 17. Guatemala--Tecpán, May 6.
Tamaulipas--Xicoténcatl, May 11. Cuba--Habana, May 1.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Key West, March 3.
Alabama--Eutaw, April 1. Georgia--Atlanta, March 26. South
Carolina--Mount Pleasant, March 22. North Carolina--Raleigh, March 22.
Virginia--Lawrenceville, April 3. West Virginia--French Creek, April 10.
District of Columbia--Washington, April 18. Pennsylvania--Erie, April
19. New York--Rhinebeck, April 20. Massachusetts--Cambridge, April 19.
New Hampshire--Tilton, April 26. Maine--Portland, April 26. New
Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 1. Nova Scotia--Wolfville, May 3.
Quebec--Montreal, May 4. Louisiana--Avery Island, March 23.
Mississippi--Oxford, March 10. Tennessee, Chattanooga, March 19.
Kentucky--Eubanks, March 23. Arkansas--Delight, March 26.
Missouri--Forsyth, April 8. Illinois--Murphysboro, April 11.
Indiana--Bicknell, April 16. Ohio--Oberlin, April 13.
Michigan--Vicksburg, April 13. Ontario--Guelph, April 20.
Wisconsin--Milwaukee, April 19. Minnesota--Brainerd, April 25.
Texas--Rockport, February 5. Kansas--Independence, April 1. North
Dakota--Fargo, May 5. Manitoba--Aweme, April 30. Alberta--Edmonton, May

Late dates of the spring departure of transients are:
Florida--Pensacola, May 7. Alabama--Long Island, May 16.
Georgia--Athens, May 14. South Carolina--Greenwood, May 17. North
Carolina--Chapel Hill, May 24. Virginia--Norfolk, May 26. West
Virginia--Fairmont, May 23. District of Columbia--Washington, June 10.
Pennsylvania--Beaver, May 27. Louisiana--Lobdell, May 9.
Mississippi--Horn Island, May 12. Tennessee--Knoxville, May 31.
Arkansas--Delight, May 30. Missouri--St. Louis, May 22.
Illinois--Chicago, June 3. Indiana--Notre Dame, June 2. Ohio--Toledo,
June 5. Texas--Brownsville, May 15. Oklahoma--Tulsa, May 18.
Kansas--Lawrence, May 16. Nebraska--Syracuse, May 27.

Early dates of fall departure are: Alberta--Glenevis, August 30.
Manitoba--Brandon, September 24. North Dakota--Fargo, September 19 (bird
banded). Nebraska--Stapleton, October 17. Oklahoma--Oklahoma City,
November 2. Minnesota--Minneapolis, November 2. Wisconsin--Madison,
November 1. Michigan--Detroit, November 1. Ontario--Ottawa, October 25.
Ohio--Columbus, October 31. Illinois--Rantoul, October 31.
Kentucky--Madisonville, October 24. Tennessee--Memphis, October 28.
Mississippi--Gulfport, November 18. Louisiana--New Orleans, November 4.
Newfoundland--Tompkins, October 4. Nova Scotia--Sable Island, October 7.
New Brunswick--Saint John, October 12. Quebec--Quebec, October 3.
Maine--Ellsworth, October 19. Vermont--Woodstock, October 19.
Massachusetts--Harvard, November 2. New York--Scarsdale, October 26.
Pennsylvania--McKeesport, October 25. District of Columbia--Washington,
October 21. North Carolina--Weaverville, October 31. Georgia--Athens,
November 1. Alabama--Fairhope, November 19. Florida--Sombrero Key,
November 10 (two struck lighthouse, one killed).

Early dates of fall arrival are: North Dakota--Wilton, September 4.
Kansas--Lake Quivira, September 6. Oklahoma--Tulsa, August 13.
Texas--Cove, July 26. Ohio--Toledo, August 20. Indiana--Waterloo, August
14. Illinois--Chicago, August 15. Kentucky--Versailles, August 13.
Missouri--Montier, August 25. Arkansas--Winslow, August 13.
Tennessee--Memphis, August 7. Mississippi--Hernando, July 30.
Louisiana--Breaux Bridge, August 12. Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh,
August 20. District of Columbia--Washington, August 22. West
Virginia--Bluefield, August 29.--Virginia--Charlottesville, September 3.
North Carolina--Montezuma, August 27. Georgia--Atlanta, September 6.
Florida--Pensacola, September 9. Cuba--Habana, September 30.
Mexico--Cuernavaca, Morelos, September 14. Guatemala--Tecpán, August 9.
Costa Rica--Vara Blanca, September 28.

_Banding._--A few interesting records of banded birds are available. One
banded at Hanover, N. H., on September 16, 1930, was found dead at
Milledgeville, Ga., on February 25, 1935. Since the bird was an adult
when banded it had lived at least five years and eight months. Another
banded at Groton, Mass., on May 24, 1933, was "caught" at West Memphis,
Ark., on October 22, 1933. A third bird, banded at Overbrook,
Philadelphia, Pa., was killed by an Indian near Tetela, Oaxaca, Mexico,
about April 1, 1936.

_Casual records._--A specimen of the black-throated green warbler was
collected on one of the Farallon Islands on May 29, 1911, and another
seen on June 1. There are three records for Arizona: one collected in
Ramsay Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, on May 9, 1895; one recorded seen in
the same mountains in August 1932; and one collected May 30, 1933, in
Toroweap Valley, Mohave County, on the brink of Grand Canyon. One was
noted on the Teton River below Collins, Mont., on June 4, 1916. A
specimen was collected at Barr Lake, Colo., May 20, 1909. In Monroe
Canyon, Sioux County, Nebr. one was noted October 8, 1920. At
Julianehaab, Greenland, a specimen was taken in 1853; and another at
Sukkertoppen in the fall of 1933. There are three records for Bermuda:
May 7, 1878; February 1927; and May 1, 1928. A specimen was secured on
the island of Heligoland, Germany, on November 19, 1858.

_Egg dates._--Massachusetts: 26 records, May 21 to July 11; 15 records,
May 30 to June 10, indicating the height of the season.

New Brunswick: 13 records, June 13 to 28; 9 records, June 5 to 19.

New York: 19 records, May 30 to July 16; 10 records, June 2 to 11.

Nova Scotia: 13 records, June 7 to 28; 9 records, June 13 to 20





It was a silent world, this great cypress swamp where I sought the nest
of the Wayne's black-throated green warbler in the company of the man
whose name it bears and who first made it known to science. A vast
flooded expanse of trees and water--colorful, eerie, and mysterious--it
was a realm of gray-green gloom. Huge trunks towered on all sides; long
aisles of wine-dark mirror-smooth water stretched illimitably away among
the buttressed columns. The grayness that predominated, from the
furrowed knees and smoother trunks of the great trees to the shrouds of
moss festooned from their branches, was relieved here and there by
contrasting splotches of bright green overhead where occasional shafts
of brilliant sunlight penetrated the canopy of feathery foliage.

Our dugout made no sound as it slid along. Only the slight splash of the
paddle entering and leaving the water gave evidence of any means of
propulsion. Now and again the silence was broken by the calls echoing
down the flooded aisles--the clear whistle of the prothonotary warbler
ringing sweetly, the full-voiced carol of the yellow-throated warbler,
the strident call of the pileated woodpecker answered by the distant cry
of a hunting red-shouldered hawk. Occasionally the deep, resonant
"whoo-aw" of a barred owl reverberated solemnly among the cypresses, and
once a sombre anhinga flapped ahead of the dugout to plunge cleanly into
the still water in full career.

But above these evidences of swamp life, above the swish of breaking
bass, the crashing splash of a disturbed alligator, the clamor of a
startled heron or ibis, sounded one persistent call from the high
branches--a song of seven notes, five on the same tone, one ascending,
the last descending. It was this call that drew us on, the song of the
bird whose nest we sought that morning, Wayne's warbler, the southern
race of the black-throated green warbler.

To find the black-throated green warbler in a cypress swamp might seem
strange indeed to one who knows the species in its spruce and balsam
highlands, in the rhododendron and laurel thickets of the Blue Ridge, in
the evergreens of the Adirondacks and Maine! Yet here it is, one of the
characteristic avian dwellers of the warm swamplands of the South
Carolina Low Country, arriving in the spring to nest amid the green
cypress twigs, the drooping limbs of the magnolias, and the majestic
spread of the live oak.

When Arthur T. Wayne of Mount Pleasant, S. C., discovered the first
nesting of this race he was sure it was not a typical _Dendroica virens
virens_, and on April 25, 1918 he sent a male to Outram Bangs of the
Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Mass. Later he sent him six
other specimens. Upon comparing them with specimens of _D. v. virens_,
Bangs (1918) described it as a different race, giving it the name of the
discoverer, _waynei_. Extracts from his published material are
illuminating. He states, for instance, that "this series proves to
represent a form easily distinguishable from true _Dendroica virens_
(Gmelin). I take great pleasure in naming it after the keen
ornithologist and excellent observer and collector who discovered it,
and who noticed its peculiarities even without sufficient material with
which to compare it."

The subspecific differences are mainly a duller coloration, less
yellowish, and of a paler shade, and the throat patch more restricted.
Its principal variation from _virens_ is its much smaller and more
delicate bill. As Bangs points out, "measurements of a bill so small do
not convey the same impression that an actual comparison of specimens
does. The bill of the new form when compared to that of _D. v. virens_,
appears not more than two-thirds as large." Certainly this is true. So
marked is the difference that a specimen of _waynei_ placed amid a score
or more of _virens_ can easily be picked out even at some distance.

The southern limit of the breeding range of _virens_ appears to be the
high mountains of Carolina and Georgia and northern Alabama, usually at
elevations of more than 4,000 feet; _waynei_ is confined to a coastal
strip (in some cases less than 5 miles from the ocean) so that the
intervening area between it and _virens_ averages about 300 miles. In
all that distance, no northern black-throated green warbler appears
except in scattered and isolated instances. The migratory route of
_waynei_ is as yet imperfectly known, but since _virens_ is so scarce
along the lower Atlantic coast as to be virtually absent, and since it
has never yet been secured or reported along the Carolina and Georgia or
northern Florida coasts, it would seem that any specimen seen in those
localities would be _waynei_.

_Spring._--Wayne (1910) said of this bird in South Carolina: "This
species arrives with great regularity [Charleston County] as the
following dates will show, viz., March 26, 1890; March 27, 1900; March
27, 1912; March 23, 1916. It is not common until the middle of April and
its passage through the coast region requires so long a time that one
not acquainted with the migrations of birds might readily believe that
it bred here ... that this species should remain on the coast until
June, and not breed is very surprising."

At that time he was, of course, unaware that the species contained two
races, but, as Outram Bangs has pointed out (1918), these March arrival
dates in coastal South Carolina occur when "true _D. virens_ is still in
winter quarters in Mexico and Central America." Thus, it will be seen
that the migration times must vary considerably, and the arrival of the
coastal race is in advance of the true species, indicating a different
and less distant winter home, another phase to consider when comparing
the two.

There is almost a complete dearth of additional information on arrival
dates in other southern states. My records of South Carolina arrival
dates in recent years do not vary much from Wayne's, and he has no
earlier ones. I have but once encountered _waynei_ in spring elsewhere
than in South Carolina, this being a specimen observed in full song in
Rhetta Lagoon, Cumberland Island, Ga., on April 15, 1932. However, that
it was, in fact, a migrant is beyond all question for it is not present
in its United States range in late fall and winter.

In his description of the race in 1918, Bangs stated that "it would seem
not unlikely that the South Carolina form is resident and non-migratory,
and I hope Mr. Wayne will be able to prove whether or not this is so."
This belief of Bangs' was carried into the A. O. U. Check-List (1931)
which gives the range of this form as "resident in the coastal district
of South Carolina." This is not the case; _waynei_ does not remain in
winter, and is therefore not resident but migratory, as I have
previously pointed out (1932).

The migration of this race is as yet imperfectly known. While any
coastal migrant black-throated green warbler would probably be referable
to it, as _virens_ appears to keep to the interior when travelling
north, as a matter of fact there are almost no records of migratory
occurrences. S. A. Grimes (MS.) tells me that he has never observed any
black-throated green warbler in the area about Jacksonville, Fla., where
he lives and where he is much afield, having had years of experience.
Earle K. Greene (MS.) similarly states that his experience of over two
years in the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia failed to produce "a
single individual." Strictly in line with his observations are those of
Francis Harper (MS.) whose experience in the Okefenokee is even more
extensive than Greene's. He writes in response to my request, "I have
never found the slightest trace of the bird there." This is strange, as
the Okefenokee would seem to be typical habitat for the Wayne's Warbler,
but it evidently does not occur there.

_Courtship._--Nothing is known of the courtship behavior of this bird,
owing to the difficulty of observation, the very restricted range of the
bird, and the dearth of local observers.

_Nesting._--Wayne was under the impression that he was the discoverer of
the first known nest of this race, but search of the literature reveals
that he was in error, though the first nests found were not recognized
as those of _waynei_. Wayne secured the first eggs, and these still
appear to be the only ones in existence, as all other breeding records
deal with young birds. Authentic breeding information is exceedingly
scanty, and since this is the case, all of the instances are mentioned

The first recorded breeding was in coastal North Carolina, and is
mentioned by Pearson and the Brimleys (1919). They included it under the
black-throated green warbler, as the species at that time had not been
divided into two races. One nest was found at La Grange, Lenoir County,
in June 1905 (Smithwick), and the other at Lake Ellis, Craven County,
June 1910. Adults were seen feeding very young birds.

Continually impressed with the birds' presence in coastal South Carolina
so late in spring, Wayne sought evidences of nesting and, on April 11,
1917, saw a female carrying nesting material in a large cypress swamp in
Charleston County, but could not locate the nest. On the twenty-eighth
of the same month he detected both a male and female in the same
procedure but again failed to find the nest. His (1918) comment on this
follows: "The brief account of this bird written in 'Birds of South
Carolina' is, in the main, correct. Although I had never found it
breeding when the book went to the press I was absolutely certain that
it really bred on the coast." A year later, on April 28, 1918, he saw
another female engaged in nest building, and again was unable to find
the nest. Those who knew Wayne's untiring energy in such work can
readily understand the extreme difficulty experienced in locating this
elusive bird's home. It was on this last date that he secured the type
specimen from which Bangs described the race. The following year finally
brought success. Wayne (1919) states:

"On March 20, 1919, I visited the place where the type specimen was
taken. * * * A few males were heard singing from the topmost branches of
tall, gigantic, deciduous trees, and were also seen to fly into very
tall pines." He again visited this spot on April eighteenth with Henry
Moessner and the latter located a nest. It "was built in a live oak
tree and on the end of a horizontal branch among twigs * * * absolutely
concealed * * * about 38 feet above the ground." Wayne climbed a nearby
tree and with Moessner's help from below, attempted to pull the oak limb
toward him in order to reach the nest, when "sad to relate, without a
moment's warning, the limb snapped off and the four fresh eggs that the
nest contained were dashed in fragments on the ground."

The nest itself was preserved, and Wayne describes it as "small and
compact, measuring 1-3/4 inches in height and 1-1/2 inches in depth. It
is constructed of strips of fine bark and weed stems, over which is
wound externally the black substance that is invariably present in the
lining of the nests of Bachman's Warbler (_Vermivora bachmanii_). The
interior * * * is chiefly composed of a beautiful ochraceous buff
substance, doubtless from the unfolding leaves of some fern, and a few

On the twenty-eighth, ten days after this nest was found, Wayne returned
to the swamp with the Misses Louise Ford and Marion Pellew and found "a
very young bird just from the nest and unable to fly more than a few
feet, being fed by the male parent, which shows that the birds breed

The party proceeded to another part of the swamp where a female was seen
to enter a large magnolia. "Miss Ford * * * saw the female go to her
nest * * * built near the extremity of a long drooping magnolia limb,
but on the horizontal portion of it and about 25 feet above the ground."
This nest held four heavily incubated eggs, these being the first ones
actually taken. This nest had a quantity of caterpillar silk binding the
fibres of Spanish and hypnum moss outside, and was "lavishly lined with
the beautiful ochraceous buff substance from young fern leaves, as in
the first nest."

Edward S. Dingle (MS.) writes that "on the morning of April 25, 1923, a
Wayne's warbler was observed building in a cypress tree; the bird
collected material from the ground and also from the trunk of a large
cypress nearby. The male was not seen." On the third of May following, I
accompanied Wayne and Dingle to the site; there Dingle located the nest,
climbed the tree, and secured it, with four eggs. This nest was 62 feet
from the ground and 5 feet out from the trunk. This is the third, and
last nest from South Carolina with eggs, on which data are extant. All,
with the exception of the first, were in Wayne's collection at his
death, and are now in the Charleston (S. C.) Museum. The sites in each
case, were found by Wayne, but the nests were actually located by
Moessner, Dingle, and Miss Ford.

Commenting on these discoveries, Wayne (1919) states: "I have known this
bird ever since May 4, 1885 when I took a male in Caw-caw Swamp,
Colleton County, S. C., while on a collecting trip with my friend, the
late William Brewster. I gave the bird to him in the flesh, and in his
collection it still remains. The nest and eggs have remained unknown
until brought to light by this season's research."

Russell Richardson (1926) reported black-throated green warblers in the
Dismal Swamp, on the North Carolina side, in June. No evidence of
nesting was found by him, and he did not, apparently, realize that the
birds he saw were _waynei_. In 1932 Drs. W. R. McIlwaine and J. J.
Murray visited Dismal Swamp on May 23-26, and "found Wayne's warblers
rather common." From Murray (1932) we find that they "heard two singing
males on May 23rd as we came down the Washington Ditch to the Lake; two
males singing on the 24th near the entrance to the Feeder Ditch * * *
and six males on the 26th." They also found two family parties of adults
feeding small birds on the 24th. One of these parties was near the mouth
of the Feeder Ditch; the other a half mile up the Jericho Ditch from the
Lake (Drummond). * * * The young birds were out of the nest and could
fly well. They looked like big bumble-bees buzzing across from one tree
to another; staying rather high up. The adults ranged low in gathering
food, both male and female feeding the young birds.

_Eggs._--The eggs of _waynei_ are similar to those of _virens_. Wayne
has described them (1919) as "of a white or whitish color speckled and
spotted in the form of a wreath around the larger end with brownish red
and lilac." The sets previously described are the only ones of which the
writer is aware, and may be the only ones in collections. Whether any
have ever been secured outside of South Carolina is doubtful.
Measurements of Wayne's two sets average 16.79 by 12.25 and 15.12 by
12.03 mm., a trifle under the average for eggs of _virens_. The breeding
records for the Dismal Swamp (Virginia) and two localities in North
Carolina, concern young birds only.

_Plumages._--Data available are not sufficient for a detailed
description of the plumages but they are probably the same as those of

_Food._--No positive information on the food of _waynei_ exists, as far
as I can ascertain, except that in July 1939, G. H. Jensen examined the
stomach contents of a single specimen secured by Howell and Burleigh at
Murrells Inlet, S. C., June 5, 1932. It was full and contained 100
percent animal matter, consisting of 3 Lepidoptera larvae, 98 percent; 1
_Formica_ sp., 2 percent. That the race is insectivorous goes without
saying, but more than that remains to be worked out. Howell (1932) cites
Barrows as saying that _virens_ consumes plant lice, span-worms, and
leaf-rollers together with berries of poison ivy. Probably _waynei_
indulges similar tastes.

_Behavior._--Wayne's warbler is essentially a high-ranging bird. It
spends much of its time amid the topmost branches of cypress, magnolia,
gum, and other swamp trees, rarely descending to even mid-sections of
this characteristic growth while feeding. Highly restless and
exceedingly active in movements, it is constantly on the go and, as a
consequence, is rather difficult to see and study satisfactorily, the
oft-repeated song being the best indication of its whereabouts. As might
be supposed, the female is even more elusive, and flits about like some
swamp wraith, silent and mysterious. The failure of as keen an observer
as Wayne to locate the nests of building females gives an idea of its

In these respects it differs materially from _virens_, at least in my
experience with that race, which is frequency found at rather low
elevations. Doubtless the type of growth is responsible, for _virens_ is
a spruce-balsam-hemlock dweller, and these evergreens are dense trees
with branches often beginning only a few feet from the ground, so that
it can be seen and watched rather easily.

While several authors have referred to _virens_ as a tame bird, the same
cannot be said for _waynei_. In years of experience with the latter, I
have always found it shy and retiring. Singing freely enough if unaware
of observation, it often ceases when it detects an intruder, and since
the song is one of the surest means of locating it, great care has to be
taken in moving about, particularly near the nest.

The nest is impossible to find without watching the female, for it is
more often than not completely invisible from the ground. _D. v. waynei_
is found in the same habitat with yellow-throated and parula warblers,
but, unlike them, never utilizes the hanging clumps of Spanish moss
(_Tillandsia_) in which they invariably nest. I have climbed a tall
cypress and collected a nest and eggs of _D. d. dominica_ while _waynei_
was singing in the near vicinity. The preference of _waynei_ for heavy,
old-growth swamp forests is so marked that if this timber is cut out,
the bird disappears from the area completely, even though other growth
is left standing. In the South Carolina Low Country, this characteristic
is shared by both Bachman's and Swainson's warblers, both of which nest
in heavy swamps.

_Voice._--Though it was the cuckoo which Bryant characterized as "a
wandering voice," he might well have written the words with respect to
this tiny warbler for the bird is heard far more readily than it is
seen. As a songster it is all but indefatigable. Perhaps this is because
the depths of the cypress swamps and the old "backwaters" are cooler
than the surrounding highlands, but no matter how warm the day, or close
the atmosphere, the constantly reiterated, seven-note song resounds
through the air most of the day. The ornithologists I have guided to the
haunts of _waynei_ all agree that the song is very close to that of
_virens_. Perhaps it is a shade more deliberate and studied, as might be
expected of a southerner! However, to all intents and purposes, it is
the same song. I am inclined to describe it as slower and more
pronounced, but after all the difference is minor.

Arthur H. Howell (1932) describes the song of _virens_ as "a drowsy,
drawled ditty of four or five notes, _wee-wee-wee-su-see_, the next to
last note on a lower pitch and the final one distinctly higher." This
portrays quite well the song of _waynei_, except for the number of
notes, which are much oftener seven than less, the first five being
exactly alike, the sixth descending, and the seventh ascending.

Frank M. Chapman (1907), quoting Gerald Thayer, says of _virens_ that
"most of the individuals in a region sing nearly alike ... but about one
in forty does queer tricks with its voice. Among the commonest of these
tricks is the introduction into all parts of the song of a pronounced
quaver or tremulo.... The song is sometimes disguised almost past
recognition." He states further that the "deliberate song of five
(sometimes six or eight) notes, is the one usually described in books."

I have never noted any "quaver or tremulo" in the song. It may occur,
but in the scores of times I have heard the song it has not taken place.
Nor can I recall any song of eight notes. Occasionally, _waynei_ will
utter only five notes, but this is the marked exception and not the
rule. Certainly, individuals in a given region sing exactly alike, and
indeed, all the specimens I ever heard sounded alike, except for the
occasional slight variation in number of notes.

_Fall._--The length of stay of _waynei_ in its summer range has not yet
been determined with certainty. Few departure dates have been recorded,
but in all probability the bird is a rather early migrant. Occurrence of
the song decreases markedly after the nesting season, making the birds'
movements much more difficult to trace. It will be recalled that young
were noted flying on May twenty-fourth, in the Dismal Swamp of Virginia.
South Carolina birds were seen to fly "a few feet" on April
twenty-eighth, almost a month earlier. The North Carolina records show
that young were noted "in June", probably early in the month. That
multiple broods are raised is also something of an open question, though
it seems that in South Carolina two are raised. Henry H. Kopman (1904)
states that on July 30, 1897, he took one at Beauvoir, Miss., on the
Gulf coast, and later comments (1905) that "Professor Cooke [W. W.] is
inclined to think" that the Beauvoir bird was a stray. Probably it was a
stray, and in view of what we know today, the chances are that the bird
was a specimen of _waynei_. Many of the birds of course linger much
later than that; on September 29, 1935, Earle R. Greene [MS.] noted one
at Lake Mattamuskeet, N.C. This is doubtless a rather late date and may
be taken as about the limit of its stay along the Atlantic coast.

Enough remains to be learned about this most interesting race to keep
students busy. The highly attractive type of habitat, the marked
isolation of nesting pairs even in a restricted range, the active
character and handsome appearance of the bird itself, all these combine
to render Wayne's warbler distinctive and appealing.




This elegant warbler is confined in the breeding season to a very narrow
range in south-central Texas, the timbered parts of the "Edwards
Plateau" region. It has been reported as breeding in Bandera, Bexar,
Comal, Concho, Kendall, Kerr, and Tom Green Counties, and rarely north
to Bosque and McLennan Counties. It winters in the highlands of southern
Mexico and Guatemala.

The golden-cheeked warbler was entirely unknown to early American
ornithologists. William Brewster (1879) gives the following brief
account of its early history: "The original specimens were procured by
Mr. Salvin in Vera Paz, Guatemala. Since that time, with the exception
of a male obtained by Mr. Dresser, near San Antonio, Texas, about 1864,
no additional ones have apparently been taken. The specimen mentioned by
Mr. Purdie was taken by George H. Ragsdale in Bosque County, Texas,
April, 1878." The bird is now well known in the limited region outlined
above, and many specimens of the birds, their nests, and their eggs have
found their way into collections.

The first comprehensive account of its habits was given to Dr. Chapman
(1907) by H. P. Attwater, of San Antonio, Tex. He says of its summer
haunts in the counties named above:

The Golden-cheek is not a bird of the forest, being seldom met with in
the tall timbered areas in the wilder valleys along the rivers, or in
the tall trees which fringe the streams in the cañons; but its favorite
haunts are among the smaller growth of trees, on the rough wooded
hillsides, and which covers the slopes and "points" leading up from the
cañons, and the boulder strewn ridges or "divides" which separate the
heads of the creeks. The trees which compose this growth consist chiefly
of mountain cedar (juniper), Spanish or mountain oak, black oak, and
live oak on the higher ground, and live oak and Spanish oak clumps or
thickets on the lower flats among the foothills, interspersed in some
localities with dwarf walnut, pecan and hackberry. All these trees grow
on an average from 10 to 20 feet high, the cedar often forming almost
impenetrable "brakes". Whatever space remains among the oaks and cedars
is generally covered with shin oak brush, which is a characteristic
feature of the region. The cedar or juniper appears to possess some
peculiar attraction for this bird for they are seldom found at any great
distance from cedar localities, and they seem to divide the greater part
of their time between the cedars and Spanish oaks, searching for
Insects, with occasional visits to other oaks, walnuts, etc., but seldom
descending as low as the shin oak brush, which averages four to five
feet. It is quite probable that future observations will show, that some
favorite insect food which comprises a portion of their "bill of fare,"
is found among the cedar foliage.

_Spring._--The golden-cheeked warblers arrive in central Texas about the
middle of March, sometimes a little earlier or later. The adult males
precede the young males and females by about 5 days. Mr. Attwater
(Chapman, 1907) says: "The song of the male is the first unmistakable
notification of its arrival and within a few days it is quite common and
the females are also observed. In the localities described the
Golden-cheeked Warbler is by no means a rare bird, and it is by far the
most abundant of the few Warblers, which breed in the same region."

_Nesting._--W. H. Werner was apparently the first to find the nest of
the golden-cheeked warbler, in Comal County, Tex., in 1878, about which
he wrote to Mr. Brewster (1879): "The four nests that I have found were
similar in construction, and were built in forks of perpendicular limbs
of the _Juniperus virginiana_, from ten to eighteen feet from the
ground. The outside is composed of the inner bark of the above-mentioned
tree, interspersed with spider-webs, well fastened to the limb, and in
color resembling the bark of the tree on which it is built, so that from
a little distance it is difficult to detect the nest." Two of these
nests were examined by Mr. Brewster both so much alike that the
following description of one will suffice:

It is placed in a nearly upright fork of a red cedar, between two stout
branches to which it is firmly attached. Although a large, deep
structure, it by no means belongs to either the bulky, or loosely woven
class of bird domiciles, but is, on the contrary, very closely and
compactly felted. In general character and appearance it closely
resembles the average nest of the Black-throated Green Warbler
(_Dendroica virens_). It is, however, of nearly double the size, in
fact, larger than any Wood Warbler's nest (excepting perhaps that of _D.
coronata_) with which I am acquainted. It measures as follows: external
diameter, 3.50; external depth, 3.45; internal diameter, 1.60; internal
depth, 2.00. The exterior is mainly composed of strips of cedar bark,
with a slight admixture of fine grass-stems, rootlets, and hemp-like
fibres, the whole being kept in place by an occasional wrapping of
spider-webs. The interior is beautifully lined with the hair of
different quadrupeds and numerous feathers; among the latter, several
conspicuous scarlet ones from the Cardinal Grosbeak. The outer surface
of the whole presents a grayish, inconspicuous appearance, and from the
nature of the component materials is well calculated to escape
observation. Indeed, it must depend for concealment upon this protective
coloring, as it is in no way sheltered by any surrounding foliage.

Attwater (Chapman, 1907) says:

Of over fifty nests of this bird which I have examined, most of them
were securely placed in perpendicular forks of the main limbs of cedar
trees, about two-thirds up in the tree; average fifteen feet from the
ground. My highest record is twenty-one feet, and lowest six feet. I
have also found them in similar positions in small black oak, mountain
oak, walnut and pecan trees. * * * The favorite nesting haunts are
isolated patches or clumps of scrubby cedars, with scant foliage, on the
summits of the scarped cañon slopes, and in the thick cedar "brakes." In
cedar the older growth of trees is always selected, and no attempt at
concealment is made. I have never found a nest in a young thrifty cedar
with _thick_ foliage.

The male is always to be heard singing in the vicinity of the nest, and
the old nesting localities, and occasionally the same tree is selected
apparently and returned to one year after another.

Nearly all the nests reported by others were in cedars and were similar
in construction to those described. There are five nests of the
golden-cheeked warbler in the Thayer collection in Cambridge, of which
only one was in a cedar; two were in Spanish or mountain oaks and two in
live oaks; four of these had more or less admixture of lichens, mosses,
bits of dry leaves, and plant down in the bases, and feathers of quail,
cardinal and other birds in the linings. The smallest nest in the series
measures externally 2-1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches in height; it
is very neatly and firmly woven.

_Plumages._--Ridgway (1902) describes the juvenal plumage of the
golden-cheeked warbler as follows: "Pileum, hindneck, back, scapulars,
rump, and upper tail-coverts plain grayish brown or brownish gray; sides
of head, chin, throat, chest, and sides pale brownish gray; rest of
under part white, the breast very indistinctly streaked with pale gray;
wings and tail essentially as in adults, but middle coverts with a
mesial wedge-shaped mark of dusky."

Apparently there is a partial postjuvenal molt early in the summer,
which is similar to that of other wood warblers. This produces the first
winter plumages, in which the sexes are recognizable and much like the
respective adults at that season. In the young male the upper parts are
streaked with olive-green and black, the upper tail coverts are margined
with olive-green and gray, and the white tips of the median wing coverts
have narrow, black shaft streaks instead of the dusky wedges seen in the
juvenal coverts. Ridgway (1902) says of the young female: "Similar to
the adult female but pileum, hindneck, back, scapulars, rump, and upper
tail-coverts plain olive-green, or with very indistinct narrow streaks
of dusky on pileum and back; throat and chest pale grayish (the feathers
dusky beneath surface), the former tinged with yellow anteriorly; sides
and flanks indistinctly streaked with dusky."

I have seen no specimens showing a prenuptial molt, which is probably
finished before the birds arrive in Texas. The first and subsequent
nuptial plumages may be largely produced by wear, as the fall and winter
plumages are much like those of spring birds, but are concealed by the
tips and margins of the feathers. However, it would be strange if there
were no prenuptial molt, especially in young birds. Young birds in
first nuptial plumage can be recognized by the worn and faded wings and

_Eggs._--Four eggs make up the regular set for the golden-cheeked
warbler, although sometimes only three and very rarely five are found.
They are ovate to short ovate and have only a very slight lustre. They
are white or creamy white, finely speckled and spotted with "bay,"
"auburn," or "chestnut," and occasionally "argus brown," intermingled
with spots of "vinaceous drab," "brownish drab," or "light mouse gray."
They are generally finely marked, but sometimes eggs will have spots
which are large enough to be called blotches, or even a few small
scrawls of very dark brown. The markings are concentrated at the large
end, where frequently a fine wreath is formed, or the speckles may be so
dense as to almost obscure the ground; occasionally the markings are
scattered over the entire egg. The measurements of 50 eggs average
=17.7= by 13.1 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure
=18.9= by 13.0, 17.8 by =13.7=, and =15.6= by =12.4= millimeters

_Young._--We have no information on incubation or on the care and
feeding of the nestlings. Attwater (Chapman, 1907) has this to say:

The young birds out of the nest, which are being fed by the parents late
in April and in May, are from early nests which have escaped destruction
by "northers" on account of their sheltered positions and situations,
and it is possible that then another nest is built and a second brood
reared. * * * During June the family groups wander about together,
chiefly in the cañons and along the lower hillsides, keeping together
till the young are old enough to take care of themselves. While being
fed by the parents the "twittering" of the young birds is continually
heard, with the cautions "tick, tick" alarm notes of the female when
enemies approach. Early in July they begin to scatter, as most of the
young birds are then able to shift for themselves.

_Food._--Very little has been mentioned regarding the food of this wood
warbler beyond the fact that it seems to be mainly, if not wholly,
insectivorous. Mr. Attwater (1892) says: "Upon examining the stomachs of
a number of young birds which were being fed, I found they all contained
(with other insects) a number of small black lice (_Aphis_ sp.) which I
watched the old birds collecting from the green cedar limbs."

_Behavior._--Mr. Attwater wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907):

Like most of the same sex of other Warblers, the female of this species
is very shy, and seldom noticed except when an intruder disturbs the
nest or when feeding the young after leaving it, but the male
Golden-cheeked Warbler is by no means a shy bird. He keeps continually
flying from tree to tree in search of insects, and on fine days uttering
his song at short intervals from early dawn until after sundown, and
before nest building begins shows little alarm upon being approached. I
have stood under a tree a number of times within five or six feet of a
wandering male Golden-cheek, which appeared as pleased and interested
in watching _me_ as I was in observing him. Seemingly he was desirous of
assisting me to describe his song in my note-book, by very obligingly
repeating it frequently for my special benefit.

Mr. Werner told Mr. Brewster (1879) that "their habits were similar to
those of _D. virens_; they were very active, always on the alert for
insects, examining almost every limb, and now and then darting after
them while on the wing."

_Voice._--The song evidently bears a resemblance to that of the
black-throated green warbler in quality. Mr. Werner wrote it _tsrr
weasy-weasy tweah_, and referred to the notes as soft. Mr. Attwater
wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907): "It would be difficult to describe the
Golden-cheek's song with any real satisfaction. It varies somewhat,
being uttered much more rapidly by some individuals than by others. At a
distance only the louder parts are heard, so that it sounds quite
different than when heard at close quarters. The hurried song might be
given as _tweah, tweak, twee-sy_, with some individuals introducing an
extra note or two, and the slower or more deliberate style _twee-ah,
eseah, eachy_. After the young leave the nests the males gradually stop
singing, and at this period sometimes only use a part of the regular

George Finlay Simmons (1925) describes the song as "ventriloquistic,
elusive, seeming to come from here, there, everywhere;
_ter-wih-zeee-e-e-e, chy_, the first, second, and fourth notes short and
soft, the third longest, most distinct, and with the shrill buzzing
_z-z-z-z_ quality of the Black-throated Green Warbler's song. * * * Sung
by male from conspicuous perch atop a small tree near nest and hidden
female; heard commonly in spring in the Golden-cheek habitat; males
gradually stop singing when young have left nest. Call, chirping in
migration; female, a soft, scolding _check, check, check_ or _tick,
tick_, uttered slowly, a note at a time."

_Enemies._--According to Dr. Friedmann (1929), the golden-cheeked
warbler is "apparently a rather rare victim of the Dwarf Cowbird." He
mentions only three authentic cases.

_Field marks._--The golden-cheeked warbler might at first glance be
mistaken for a black-throated green warbler, but the upper parts in the
adult male are deep black from crown to tail, instead of olive-green,
and the under parts, except for the black throat, are white and not
tinged with yellow. The female differs from the eastern bird in the same

_Fall._--Golden-cheeked warblers do not remain on their breeding grounds
very long and leave for their winter resorts in Mexico and Central
America before the end of summer. Mr. Attwater told Dr. Chapman (1907)
that "early in July they begin to scatter, as most of the young birds
are then able to shift for themselves. By the middle of July most of
the old males have stopped singing, and by the end of July old and young
have disappeared from their usual haunts. I have noticed a few
stragglers during the first two weeks in August, and all probably leave
before September first."


_Range._--Texas to Nicaragua.

_Breeding range._--During the breeding season the golden-cheeked warbler
is confined to a few counties in south central Texas: =North= to Kerr
(Ingram and Kerrville) and Travis (Austin) Counties; =south= to Bexar
(San Antonio) and Medina (Castroville) Counties; and =west= to Real
County (West Frio Canyon). It is probably not so narrowly confined as
the definite records indicate. It has been recorded in summer, but with
no indication of breeding, at Waco, Hunt, and Commerce.

_Winter range._--Little is known of the golden-cheeked warbler in
winter. At that season it has been found at Teziutlán, western Veracruz;
Tactic, central Guatemala; and Matagalpa, central northern Nicaragua. On
November 23, 1939, and January 8, 1940, a male was observed on the
island of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. It has been observed in Tamaulipas
and Nuevo León in March, probably on migration.

_Migration._--The golden-cheeked warbler is an early migrant both in
spring and fall. It has arrived at Kerrville, Tex., as early as March 5,
and the majority of the birds have left by the middle of July; latest,
Ingram, August 18.

_Egg dates._--Texas: 29 records, April 1 to June 27; 10 records, April
11 to 24; 10 records, May 18 to 28 (Harris).





This well-marked wood warbler lives in summer in the high coniferous
forests of the west, from British Columbia southward to the southern
Sierra Nevadas in California, and spends the winter in Mexico and
Central America. This is another of those species discovered by J. K.
Townsend along the Columbia River, of which he wrote to Audubon (1841):
"I shot this pair of birds near Fort Vancouver, on the 28th of May,
1835. I found them flitting among the pine trees in the depth of a
forest. They were actively engaged in searching for insects, and were
frequently seen hanging from the twigs like Titmice. Their note was
uttered at distant intervals, and resembled very much that of the
Black-throated Blue Warbler, _Sylvia canadensis_."

In northwestern Washington the hermit warbler is not common and is
decidedly local in its summer haunts, being regularly found in certain
favored regions and entirely absent in other somewhat similar
localities. It is partial to a certain type of coniferous forest, and
when one learns to recognize the proper environment he is quite likely
to find it. D. E. Drown and S. F. Rathbun showed me some typical haunts
of this warbler near Tacoma, where J. H. Bowles has found it nesting.
This is level land covered with a more or less open growth of firs and
cedars, the largest trees, giant Douglas firs, are somewhat scattered
and tower above the rest of the forest, some reaching a height of 200
feet or more. As the warblers spend most of their time in the tops of
these great trees and are very active, it is difficult to identify them
even with a good glass, and still more difficult to follow them to their

Chester Barlow (1901) says that in the central Sierra Nevada, in
California, "the hermit warbler is pre-eminently a frequenter of the
conifers, although it feeds in the bushes and black oaks in common with
other species." In the Yosemite region, according to Grinnell and Storer
(1924), "the Hermit Warbler is a bird of the coniferous forests at
middle altitudes. Pines and firs afford it suitable forage range and
safe nesting sites. The birds keep fairly well up in the trees, most
often at 20 to 50 feet from the ground. The Hermit may thus be found in
close association with the Audubon Warbler, although the latter ranges
to a much greater altitude in the mountains."

_Spring._--Dr. Chapman (1907), outlining the migration of the hermit
warbler, says that it "enters the United States in April being reported
from Oracle, Arizona, April 12, 1899, and the Huachuca Mountains,
Arizona, April 9, 1902. Records of the earliest birds seen in California
are Campo, April 27, 1877, and Julian, April 25, 1884. A Hermit Warbler
was noted at Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, April 20, 1885." Swarth
(1904) says that the first arrivals in the Huachucas "appeared in the
very highest parts of the mountains, but a little later they could be
found in all parts of the range, and on April 17, 1902, I saw a few in
some willows near the San Pedro River." Mrs. Amelia S. Allen's notes
from the San Francisco Bay region, give dates of arrival from April 24
to May 10. In northwestern Washington, according to Bowles (1906), "the
hermits make their first appearance early in May and the fact is only to
be known thru their notes; for they frequent the tops of the giant firs
which cover large sections of our flat prairie country."

_Nesting._--The first undoubted nests of the hermit warbler were found
by C. A. Allen in Blue Cañon, California, two in 1886 and one about
eight years previously, about which he wrote to William Brewster (1887):
"All three nests were similarly placed;--in 'pitch pines,' from
twenty-five to forty feet above the ground, on thick, scraggy limbs,
where they were so well concealed that it would have been impossible to
find them except by watching the birds, as was done in each instance."
One of these nests held two eggs on June 4, but they were destroyed
before they could be collected; the other two nests contained three
young each. One of the nests with three young was sent to Brewster, who

The nest with young, taken June 7, 1886, is now before me. It is
composed of the fibrous stalks of herbaceous plants, fine dead twigs,
lichens (_Evernia vulpina_), and a little cotton twine, and is lined
with soft inner bark of some coniferous tree and fine long hairs,
apparently from the tail of a squirrel. The bright, yellow _Evernia_,
sprinkled rather plentifully about the rim, gives a touch of color to
the otherwise cold, gray tone of the exterior and contrasts agreeably
with the warm, reddish-brown lining. Although the materials are coarse
and wadded, rather than woven, together, the general effect of this nest
is neat and tasteful. It does not resemble any other Warbler's nest that
I have seen, but rather recalls the nest of some Fringilline bird, being
perhaps most like that of the Lark Finch. It measures externally 4.50
inches in width by 2 inches in depth. The cavity is 1.25 inches deep by
2.50 inches wide at the top. The walls at the rim average nearly an inch
in thickness.

Chester Barlow (1901), who has had considerable experience with the
nesting of the hermit warbler in the central Sierra Nevada, refers to
the records up to that time as follows:

On June 10, 1896, Mr. R. H. Beck collected a nest and four eggs from a
limb of a yellow pine 40 feet up, near the American River at 3,500 feet
altitude. The nest was reached by means of a ladder carried a long
distance up the mountain. (See _Nidologist_, IV, p. 79). On June 14,
1898, I had the good fortune to discover a nest opposite the station at
Fyffe, it being built at the end of a small limb of a yellow pine 45
feet up. The nest was located by searching at random and contained four
eggs about one-fourth incubated. This nest was described at length in
_The Auk_ (XVI, pp. 156-161.) * * * While walking through the timber at
Fyffe on June 8, 1899, Mr. H. W. Carriger came upon a nest of this
species but 2-1/2 feet up in a cedar sapling. It contained four eggs,
advanced in incubation. (See CONDOR I, pp. 59-60). A nest containing
young about four days old found by Mr. Price's assistant at Fyffe on
June 11, 1897, was placed twelve feet up near the top of a small cedar,
next to the trunk and well concealed. Thus it is probable that Fyffe has
afforded more nesting records of this species than has any other part of
the state.

Of the nest described in _The Auk_, Barlow (1899) says:

The nest was 45 feet from the ground in a yellow pine, built four feet
from the trunk of the tree on an upcurved limb 18 inches from the end.
* * * The nest is not fastened to the limb, resting merely upon the limb
and pine needles and is wider at the bottom than at the top, its base
measuring four inches one way and three inches the other. It is very
prettily constructed, the bottom layer being of light grayish weed
stems, bleached pine needles and other light materials held securely
together by cobwebs and wooly substances. The nest cavity is lined with
strips of red cedar bark (_Libocedrus_) and the ends, instead of being
woven smoothly, project out of the nest. The inner lining is of a fine
brownish fiber resembling shreds of soap-root. The composition of the
nest gives it a very pretty effect.

J. H. Bowles (1906) found a nest in northwestern Washington on June 11,
1905, "in a grove of young hundred-foot firs near a small swamp." The
female sat so close that he was obliged to lift her from the nest with
his hand--

and she then flew only a few feet where she remained chipping and
spreading her wings and tail. * * * The nest was placed twenty feet from
the ground in a young fir, and was securely saddled on a good sized limb
at a distance of six feet from the trunk of the tree. It is a compact
structure composed externally of small dead fir twigs, various kinds of
dry moss, and down from the cottonwood flowers, showing a strong outward
resemblance to nests of _D. auduboni_. But here the likeness between the
two is at an end; for the lining consists of fine dried grasses, and
horsehair, with only a single feather from the wing of a western
bluebird. The measurements are, externally, four inches in diameter and
two and three-quarters inches deep; internally, two inches in diameter
by one and a quarter inches deep.

A nest in the Thayer collection in Cambridge was collected by O. W.
Howard "70 feet above ground, near the end of a limb of a yellow pine,
in a bunch of needles," in Tulare County, Calif. Gordon W. Gullion tells
me of an Oregon nest that was "about 125 feet above the ground."

_Eggs._--The hermit warbler lays 3, 4, or 5 eggs to a set; 5 are
apparently not rare. Bowles (1906) says of his 5 eggs: "They have a
rather dull white ground with the slightest suggestion of flesh color,
heavily blotched and spotted with varying shades of red, brown and
lavender. * * * I think they may be considered the handsomest of all the
warblers' eggs." The 4 eggs in the Thayer collection in Cambridge are
ovate, with a very slight lustre. They are creamy white, finely speckled
and spotted with "chestnut" and "auburn," with intermingling spots of
"light brownish drab." The markings are concentrated at the large end,
forming a broad, loose wreath. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.0
by 13.1 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =18.0=
by 13.4, 17.0 by =13.7=, =15.2= by 12.7, and 16.3 by =11.8= millimeters

_Young._--We have no information on the incubation of the eggs, nor on
the care and development of the young.

_Plumages._--I have examined the nestlings sent to Brewster by C. A.
Allen; they are about two-thirds fledged on the body and wings; the
heads still show the long natal down, "hair brown" in color; the
feathers of the back are "olive brown"; the wings are "clove brown,"
with two narrow, white wing bars, faintly tinged with pale yellow; the
breasts and sides are pale "hair brown" to "light grayish olive"; and
the rest of the under parts are yellowish white. A young bird in fresh
plumage, collected July 1, is probably in full juvenal plumage; its body
plumage is similar to that of the nestlings, but there is some yellow on
the forehead and throat, and the sides of the head and neck are
decidedly yellow; however, this may be a bird that has assumed its first
winter plumage at an unusually early date.

In first winter plumage, young birds of both sexes are much like the
adult female at that season, mainly grayish olive-green above, with
black streaks concealed or absent; forehead, sides of the head, and chin
pale yellow; and the rest of the under parts buffy white, the sides
browner. The broad, white tips of the lesser wing coverts have a black
shaft streak or wedge, apparently characteristic of this plumage. There
is probably a prenuptial molt involving much of the head and body
plumage and the wing coverts, but the dull juvenal wings are retained
until the next molt.

The complete postnuptial molt occurs in July and August. The fall
plumages of both sexes are like the spring plumages, but the clear
blacks and yellows are largely concealed by olive above and by buffy

_Food._--The only item I can find on the food of the hermit warbler is
the following short statement by Bowles (1906): "Their food consists of
small spiders, caterpillars, tiny beetles, and flying insects which they
dart out and capture in a manner worthy of that peer of flycatchers the
Audubon warbler."

_Behavior._--The most marked trait of the hermit warbler is its fondness
for the tree tops, spending much of its time in the tops of the tallest
firs, often 200 feet or more above the ground, where it is very active
and not easy to follow. But it builds its nest at lower levels, and
often comes down to forage in the lower branches, in smaller trees and
even in the underbrush, where it is not particularly shy and can be
easily approached. It is a close sitter while incubating; Bowles had to
lift one off its nest.

A hermit warbler watched by Miss Margaret W. Wythe, in Yosemite Valley,
"was foraging in the upper parts of the trees and never came to the
lower branches. Starting from near the trunk of a pine it would work out
to the tip of one branch before going to another. Its demeanor while
foraging was much more deliberate than that of any of the other
warblers" (Grinnell and Storer, 1924).

_Voice._--Rathbun (MS.) writes: "The song is quite strong, can be heard
a considerable distance, and when given in full consists of five or six
notes. The first note, rather faint, rises and then falls, with a slight
accent at its close; if one is quite close to the singer, the note has
a light lisping sound. This note is followed by another, similar but
stronger and more prolonged. Then come three or four short, clear
notes quickly given, the song ending with a prolonged rising one
that closes sharply. Our interpretation of the song would be
_zweeo-zweeo-zwee-zwee-zwee-zweeck_. Whenever an additional note is
given, it is of the intermediate kind. One or two of these notes are, to
us, suggestive of some heard in the song of Townsend's warbler. The song
is quite rapidly sung in an energetic way, being very distinctive and is
pleasing. It resembles the song of no other warbler in the region."

Bowles (1906) says that the song of the hermit warbler "consists of four
distinct notes, as a rule, and is described as _zeegle-zeegle,
zeegle-zeek_, uttered somewhat slowly at first but ending rather
sharply." Barlow (1899) states that "though not loud it would penetrate
through the woods quite a distance and very much resembled _tsit, tsit,
tsit, tsit, chee chee chee_, the first four syllables being uttered with
a gradual and uniform speed, ending quickly with the _chee chee chee_."
Grinnell and Storer (1924) write:

The song of the male Hermit Warbler, while varying somewhat with
different individuals, is sufficiently distinct from that of the other
warblers of the region to make possible identification by voice alone.
The song is most nearly like that of the Audubon Warbler but usually not
so clear or mellow. A male bird observed at Chinquapin seemed to say
_seezle, seezle, seezle, seezle, zeek, zeek_; just that number of
syllables, over and over again. The quality was slightly droning, but
not so much so as that of the Black-throated Gray Warbler. Another song,
clearer in quality, heard in Yosemite Valley, was written _ter´-ley,
ter´-ley, ter´-ley, sic´, sic´_, thus much more nearly like the song of
the Audubon Warbler. Other transcriptions ranged between these two as to
timbre. A rendering set down at Glacier Point June 16, 1915, was as
follows: _ser-weez´, ser-weez´, ser-weez´, ser´, ser´_. The marked
rhythm throughout, and the stressed terminal syllables, are distinctive
features of the Hermit's song. The call note is a moderate _chip_.

Writing of warbler songs of early dawn, Dawson (Dawson and Bowles, 1909)
indulges in the following flowery praise of the hermit's sing: "There is
Audubon with his hastening melody of gladness. There is Black-throated
Gray with his still drowsy sonnet of sweet content. Then there is Hermit
hidden aloft in the shapeless greenery of the under-dawn--his note is
sweetest, gladdest, most seraphic of them all, _lilly, lilly, lilly,
leê-oleet_. It is almost sacrilege to give it form--besides it is so
hopeless. The preparatory notes are like the tinkle of crystal bells,
and when our attention is focused, lo! the wonder happens, the exquisite
lilt of the closing phrase, _leê-oleet_."

_Field marks._--The yellow head, the black throat, the dark back, and
the white, unmarked under parts will distinguish the male in spring. The
head of the female, of young birds, and of fall birds is also more or
less yellowish and the back is more olivaceous. The two white wing bars
are also common to several other species. Its song is said to be

_Fall._--The fall migration of the hermit warbler begins early. Bowles
(1906) says that, in Washington, "about the middle of July both young
and old assemble in good-sized flocks and frequent the water holes in
the smaller growths of timber. At such times I have never seen them
associating with any other kinds of birds." W. W. Price wrote to Mr.
Barlow (1901) of the migration in the Sierra Nevada:

The adults are very rare during June and July in the neighborhood of my
camp at Silver Creek, but late in July and early in August a migration
of the young birds of the year takes place and the species is very
abundant everywhere in the tamaracks from about 6000 to 8000 feet. A
hundred or more may be counted in an hour's walk at my camp, 7000 feet,
on Silver Creek. They are very silent, uttering now and then a 'cheep,'
and always busy searching among the leaves and cones for insects. Among
some fifty collected in the first week in August, 1896, there were only
two or three adults. The young males have the most coloring, but they in
no way approach adult plumage. These great flights of the hermit warbler
are intermingled with other species, Hammond flycatcher, Calaveras and
lutescent warblers, Cassin vireo, and sometimes Louisiana tanagers and
red-brested nuthatches. Each year the flight has been noted, it comes
without warning of storm or wind, and after a few days disappears to be
seen no more.

In the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, according to Swarth (1904), "they
reappeared in August, but at this time were seen only in the pines above
8500 feet. It is rather singular, and in contradiction to the idea that
in the migrations the old birds go first in order to show the way, that
the first secured in the fall was a young female, taken August 7th. The
young birds then became very abundant, and on August 14th the first
adult female was taken; and not until August 19th was an adult male
seen. The adults then became nearly as abundant as the juveniles, and
both together were more numerous than I have ever seen them in the
spring, on several occasions as many as fifteen to twenty being seen in
one flock."

_Winter._--Dr. Skutch writes to me: "The hermit warbler is a moderately
abundant winter resident in the Guatemalan highlands, found chiefly
between 5,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level, but ranging downward to
about 3,500 feet on the Pacific slope and possibly somewhat lower on the
Caribbean slope, where pine forests push down into the upper levels of
the Tropical Zone. These treetop birds are usually found in the mixed
flocks of small birds, of which Townsend's warblers form the predominant
element. During the early part of their sojourn in Guatemala, I
sometimes saw two, three, or more hermits in the same flock; but in
February and March, there was as a rule only one. In 1933, I saw the
last of these warblers on the Sierra de Tecpán on March 29, and recorded
the first fall arrival on September 13, when four individuals were


_Range._--Western North America from Puget Sound to Nicaragua.

_Breeding range._--The hermit warbler breeds =north= to northwestern
Washington (Lake Crescent and Tacoma). =East= to the Cascades of
Washington (Tacoma); Oregon (Prospect); and the Sierra Nevada in
California (Meadow Valley, Pinecrest, Yosemite Valley, Taylor Meadow,
and the San Bernardino Mountains). =South= to the San Bernardino
Mountains and La Honda. =West= to the Pacific coast from central western
California northward (La Honda, Cahto, and Garberville); western Oregon
(Kerby and Tillamook); and northwestern Washington (Lake Crescent).

_Winter range._--The hermit warbler has been found in winter =north= to
central Mexico (Taxco, Cuernavaca, and Mexico City). =East= to Mexico
City and central Guatemala (San Gerónimo and Alotepeque). =South= to
southern Guatemala (Alotepeque); probably farther south since specimens
have been taken at Los Esesmiles, El Salvador, and Metagalpa, Nicaragua.
=West= to western Guatemala (Alotepeque, Tecpán, and Momostenango);
western Oaxaca (La Parada); and northern Guerrero (Taxco).

The hermit warbler has been taken three times in January in central
western California (San Gerónimo and Point Reyes, Marin County; and
Pacific Grove, Monterey County).

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Guatemala--Tecpán, March 29. Sonora--Rancho la Arizona, May 8.
Arizona--Huachuca Mountains--May 28.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Tampico--Galindo, March 19.
Coahuila--Sierra de Guadeloupe, April 20. Arizona--Oracle, April 12.
California--Witch Creek, April 10. Washington--Tacoma, April 25.

Late dates of fall departure are: Washington--Edwards, October 19.
California--Monterey, October 20. Arizona--Santa Catalina Mountains,
September 29. Tamaulipas--Guiaves, October 7.

Early dates of fall arrival are: California--Berkeley, July 9.
Arizona--Graham Mountains, July 30. New Mexico--Animas Peak, August 3.
Michoacán--Tancitaro, August 16. Guatemala--Tecpán, September 13.

_Casual records._--Specimens of the hermit warbler have been collected
in the Huachuca Mountains in Arizona on June 16, 1894; at Basin in the
Chisos Mountains in Texas on May 3, 1935; and near Cambridge, Minn., on
May 3, 1931.

_Egg dates._--California: 10 records, May 14 to June 25; 6 records, June
3 to 14, indicating the height of the season.

Washington: 3 records, June 5 to 11 (Harris).





This heavenly-blue wood warbler was first introduced to science,
figured, and named by Wilson in the first volume of his American
Ornithology. Only the male was figured and described from a specimen
received from Charles Willson Peale and taken in eastern Pennsylvania.
The female was not known until Charles Lucien Bonaparte described it in
his continuation of Wilson's American Ornithology. Strangely enough the
discovery of this specimen was also made by a member of the famous Peale
family, Titian Peale, the bird having been taken in the same general
region, on the banks of the Schuylkill, August 1, 1825. Audubon met with
it later, but was almost wholly wrong in what he wrote about it, though
his plate is good.

The species is now known to occupy a rather extensive breeding range
located mainly west of the Alleghenies and east of the Great Plains from
southern Ontario and central New York southward to the northern parts of
some of the Gulf States and Texas. It is, however, decidedly local in
its distribution over much of this range.

This warbler, a bird of the tree-tops in heavy deciduous woods, where
its colors make it difficult to distinguish among the lights and shadows
of the lofty foliage and against the blue sky, is well named cerulean!
In his notes from central New York, Samuel F. Rathbun writes: "The type
of growth to which the cerulean warbler is partial appears to be the
rather open forests in the lowlands and often along some stream. During
the nesting season, it will not be found to any extent in the better
class of hardwood trees of the uplands; in fact, this warbler shows a
strong liking for areas where large elms and soft maples and black ash
are the dominant trees." Verdi Burtch wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that
near Branchport, N. Y., this warbler is "locally abundant in mixed
growths of oak and maple with a few birch and hickory." In other
portions of its range, it is found in mixed woods of maples, beech,
basswood or linden, elm, sycamore, or oaks. Frank C. Kirkwood (1901)
found that, in Maryland, "the species has a decided preference for high
open woods clear of underbrush. * * * The trees are principally
chestnuts, with oaks, hickorys, tulip trees, etc."

_Spring._--The main migration route of the cerulean warbler is through
the Mississippi Valley, from the Alleghenies westward; it is rare in the
Atlantic States, especially the more southern ones, and hardly more than
casual in Florida and the West Indies. It enters the United States, in
Texas and Louisiana, in April, and reaches its breeding grounds in the
interior early in May.

Rathbun (MS.) says of the spring migration in central New York: "The
cerulean warbler arrives in this region about the middle of May, its
coming being announced by its song. With rare exceptions, it is not
found in the spring migration with other warblers and it appears to move
in very small groups or singly; even in the large springtime movements
of warblers known as 'waves,' some of the birds of which remain while
others pass through the region, I have observed very few cerulean
warblers. Not much time elapses after its arrival before mating takes
place and nest building begins."

_Nesting._--The earlier ornithologists knew nothing about the nesting
habits of the cerulean warbler; Audubon's description of its nest was
entirely erroneous, and it was about 50 years after the bird was
discovered that its nest was reported. This is not strange, as the nest
is not easy to find and still more difficult to secure. Rathbun (MS.)
writes in his notes: "During our stay in New York State, we found only
three of its nests, because they were rather difficult to locate. We
found the first at a height of 55 feet in a little cluster of small,
twig-like branches growing on the side of a feathered elm; these
clusters were close enough together to be of great use in climbing the
tree, which was at least 3 feet in diameter. The nest was discovered by
seeing the bird fly into the cluster. Within the next week a second nest
was found by watching the female bird; it was at a height of 45 feet in
a very small, flat crotch of a soft maple. The third nest was at a
height of about 30 feet.

"The nests were identical in all respects except as to shape, which
varied because of its situation. Each was nicely made but not unusual in
appearance. The material used was almost wholly the fine strips of the
grayish bark of small weed stalks, neatly interwoven. Each was smoothly
and beautifully lined with the fresh stems of ground mosses of a
brownish red color, which contrasted nicely with the gray outer
material. Of great interest was the smoothness with which the material
was woven in."

Burtch wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that near Branchport, N. Y., where
the bird is locally common, "the nest is usually placed on a horizontal
branch or drooping branch of an elm, ranging from twenty-five to sixty
feet from the ground, and from four, to fifteen, or eighteen feet from
the body of the tree _over an opening_."

W. E. Saunders (1900) reports eight nests found in southern Ontario; two
of these were in oaks, 20 and 23 feet up, two in maples, 30 and 35 feet
from the ground, and four in basswoods (lindens), from 17 to 50 feet
above ground. He gives the measurements of three nests; they measured
externally from 1-3/4 to 2 inches in height and 2-3/4 inches in
diameter; internally they varied from 7/8 to 1 inch in depth and from
1-7/8 to 1-3/4 inches in diameter. He remarks: "A feature that
interested me very much was the extreme shallowness of the nests; all
the other warblers with which I am acquainted building a comparatively
deep nest, and the query arises, Does the bird build a shallow nest
because it places it on a substantial limb, or does it place it on a
substantial limb because its nests are shallow? The attachment of the
nest, also, is exceedingly frail, and I am inclined to think that few of
these nests would remain in position long after the young had left."

A nest found by Kirkwood (1901) in Baltimore County, Md., is described
as follows: "The nest is made of brown bark fibre, with some fine grass
stems among it, and is finished inside with a few black horse-hairs.
Outside it is finished with gray shreds of bark, spider web, and a few
small fragments of newspaper that had been water-soaked. * * * As the
branch sloped, one part of the rim is within 3/4 of an inch of it, while
the opposite part is 1-3/4 inches above it, the material comes down on
one side of branch to 2-1/4 inches below the rim. On this side a tiny
twig arches out from branch and extending to the rim is embedded in the
nest, and the leaves which grew from its top shaded the nest." The nest
was 48 feet and 6 inches up from the ground and 15 feet out from the
trunk of a tulip tree, with no other limb between it and the ground.

A neat little nest before me is made of materials similar to those
mentioned. It is lined with the reddish brown flowering stems of mosses
smoothly woven with other very fine brownish fibres into a compact rim,
and it is decorated externally with various brown and gray lichens and
mosses. Other nests have been reported in sycamores, beeches, rock
maples, sugar maples, and white oaks.

_Eggs._--The cerulean warbler lays from 3 to 5 eggs, usually 4. They are
ovate to short ovate and have a slight luster. The ground color is
grayish white, creamy white, or even very pale greenish white, and they
are speckled, spotted or blotched with "bay," "chestnut," or "auburn,"
intermingled with spots of "light brownish drab," or "brownish drab."
Some eggs have spots scattered all over the surface, but usually they
are concentrated at the large end, where a loose wreath is formed.
Generally the eggs are finely marked, but occasionally are quite heavily
blotched. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.0 by 13.0 millimeters;
the eggs showing the four extremes measure =17.9= by 13.0, 17.0 by
=13.7=, =16.0= by 12.4, and 17.2 by =12.0= millimeters (Harris).

_Young._--The period of incubation seems to be unknown, and we have no
information on the care and development of the young. Incubation is said
to be performed by the female alone, but both parents assist in feeding
the young. After the young are out of the nest, they may be seen
travelling through the woods in family parties with their parents. There
seems to be no evidence that more than one brood is raised in a season.

_Plumages._--Ridgway (1902) describes the young cerulean warbler in
nestling (juvenal) plumage as "above uniform brownish gray (deep drab
gray), the pileum divided longitudinally by a broad median stripe of
grayish white; sides of head (including a broad superciliary stripe) and
entire under parts white; a narrow postocular stripe of deep drab gray;
wings as in adults, but edgings greenish rather than bluish."

The first winter plumage is assumed by a partial postjuvenal molt,
involving the contour plumage and the wing coverts, but not the rest of
the wings nor the tail. Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the young male in
this plumage as "above, deep bice-green, partly concealing cinereous
gray which is conspicuous on the rump and upper tail coverts, the latter
and the feathers of the back often black centrally. The wing coverts
with bluish cinereous gray edgings; two wing bands white, faintly tinged
with canary-yellow. Below, white, strongly washed except on the chin,
abdomen and crissum with primrose-yellow, the sides and flanks streaked
obscurely with dull black. Superciliary line primrose-yellow; lores and
orbital regions whitish; a dusky transocular streak."

The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a partial prenuptial molt
"which involves much of the body plumage and wing coverts, but not the
rest of the wings nor the tail. The grayish cerulean blue, the black
streaks on the back and the white wing bands are acquired; below, the
plumage is white with a narrow bluish black band on the throat and the
sides distinctly streaked. Young and old become practically
indistinguishable, except by the duller wings and tail of the juvenal

The adult winter plumage is acquired by a complete postnuptial molt in
July, which he says "differs from first winter in being much bluer and
whiter, the wings and tail blacker and the edgings a bluer gray.
Resembles the adult nuptial, but rather grayer on the back and the
throat band incomplete." The adult nuptial plumage is acquired by a
partial-prenuptial molt as in the young bird.

He says of the plumages of the female: "The plumages and moults
correspond to those of the male. In juvenal plumage the edgings of the
wings and tail are greener tinged than those of the male. In first
winter plumage the green above is duller and the black of the back and
tail coverts is lacking; below there is more yellow and the side streaks
are obscure. The first nuptial plumage is acquired by a moult limited
chiefly to the head and throat which become bluer and whiter
respectively. Later plumages are brighter, but green always replaces the
blue of the male."

_Food._--No thorough study of the food of the cerulean warbler seems to
have been made, but it is known to be insectivorous, foraging among the
foliage, twigs, branches, and even on the trunks of trees. It is an
expert fly catcher, darting out into the air for flying insects. A. H.
Howell (1924) says that "examination of 4 stomachs of this species taken
in Alabama showed the food to consist of Hymenoptera, beetles, weevils,
and caterpillars." Professor Aughey (1878) observed this warbler
catching locusts in Nebraska.

_Behavior._--S. Harmsted Chubb (1919) describes the behavior of the
cerulean warbler as follows:

A bird more difficult to observe I have rarely if ever met with. His
life seemed to be confined almost entirely to the tops of the tallest
deciduous trees, where he would generally feed, with apparent design, on
the side most remote from the would-be observer, exhibiting a wariness
not expected on the part of a warbler, and finally leaving the tree, the
first intimation of his departure being a more distant song. He never
remained in the same tree top more than eight or ten minutes at a time
and yet rarely ventured out of hearing distance from the center of his
range. Fortunately, he would sometimes take a perch on a bare twig and
sing for several minutes, but the perch was always high and generally
with the sky as a poor background for observation. Had it not been for
the almost incessant singing, being heard almost constantly from
daybreak until nearly dark, the task of identification would have seemed

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders writes to me: "I have but six records of
the song of this bird. There is probably more variation in the song than
these records show, for all six are much alike. The song consists of
four to eight notes, of even time and all mainly on one pitch, followed
by a trill about a tone higher, the latter, in all of my records,
pitched on C´´´´. The first notes, in one of my records, are upward
slurs, and in two others the first note of the group slurs upward, but
in all of the others all of the notes are of even pitch and not slurred.
The pitch varies from G´´´ to C´´´´. The songs are undoubtedly between
one and two seconds in length, but I had no stop watch at the time, so
did not time them. The song is rather loud and not particularly musical.
In form the song is much like that of the Blackburnian warbler, but the
loudness, different quality, and lower pitch distinguish it."

Francis H. Allen (MS.) writes the song as "_wee wee wee wee bzzz_, heard
many times without any apparent variation." This was somewhat different
from the song of a cerulean I heard, which had a "chippy" beginning that
suggested the song of a yellow palm warbler, and also that of the
parula warbler. Rev. J. J. Murray writes to me from Virginia: "The songs
of the parula and cerulean in this section are very similar, but not
difficult to distinguish. The pattern is reversed in the two; the
parula's song is 'bzz, bzz, bzz, trill', while that of the cerulean is a
'trill, trill, trill, bzz'. The cerulean's song can be expressed by the
phrase '_Just a little sneeze_.'" A. D. DuBois tells me that "the
beginning of the song is similar to that of the redstart, but it ends
with a fine, 'wiry,' grasshopper-like trill, ascending in pitch and
drawn out to nothing at the end." Mr. Chubb (1919) describes two songs
of the cerulean warbler as follows:

The musical exercises of the bird consisted of an alternation of two
distinctly different songs, so different indeed that until the bird was
caught in the act we never for a moment suspected a single authorship.
One song suggested slightly that of the Magnolia Warbler but rather
softer, four syllables, though not quite so well defined as in the
Magnolia. The other, for want of something better, might be compared
with the song of the Parula Warbler, a short buzzing trill rising in the
scale, much louder and less lispy than the song of the Parula. The songs
were each of about one second duration, rendered approximately eight or
ten times per minute. Altogether the performance was quite musical, in
sweetness far above the average warbler song. These two songs were
generally alternated with clock-like regularity, though occasionally the
bird preferred to dwell upon one or other of his selections for the
greater part of the day.

Kirkwood (1901) says: "It also gives its song in a low tone as if it
whispered it, and unless the bird is carefully watched the observer
might be led to believe that he heard a second bird singing in the
distance. I have watched a bird sing thus between each regular song, at
other times it would not give it at all, or only occasionally, while on
two or three occasions I heard it given for quite a while to the
exclusion of the regular song, and quite often have heard it given two
or three or even more times in succession between regular songs." He has
heard the cerulean warbler singing through July and until the middle of
August; on August 19, he heard them singing "immature or imperfect (?)

_Enemies._--The cerulean warbler is a rather uncommon victim of the
eastern cowbird; not more than 10 cases seem to have been recorded.

_Field marks._--No other American wood warbler has a similar shade of
heavenly blue on its back as the male cerulean; its under parts are pure
white, relieved by a narrow black necklace, and it has two white wing
bars. Females, young birds, and even fall males are similar, and are
tinged with blue above and with pale yellow below, with a whitish or
yellowish line over the eye. In this plumage they resemble the young
parula warbler, but the latter is much deeper yellow on the breast and
has no line over the eye.

_Fall._--Rathbun says in his notes from central New York: "When July
comes the warblers will be found quite widely dispersed in any sort of
forest, because they are now moving through the country in little family
groups. Now and then will be heard snatches of the spring song. This is
but preparatory for their departure from the region, which takes place
in the latter part of August; we have never seen this warbler after the
first week in September."

Professor Cooke (1904) writes:

The cerulean warbler is a rare migrant in the States along the Atlantic
coast, though it has been noted in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.
In northeastern Texas and Louisiana it is not uncommon. Its main route
of migration seems to cross the Gulf of Mexico chiefly from Louisiana
and Mississippi. The species is one of the first to start on the
southward migration. By the middle of summer it has reached the Gulf
coast and is well on its way to its winter home. At Beauvoir and Bay St.
Louis, on the coast of Mississippi, it has appeared in different years
on dates ranging from July 12 to 29. For a few days it is common,
attaining the height of its abundance about the first week in August. It
then passes southward so rapidly that Cherrie was able to record its
presence on August 24, 1890, at San José, Costa Rica. By November it
reaches central Ecuador. Though the bulk of the birds perform their
migration at this early date, some laggards remain behind until late in
the season.

Dr. A. F. Skutch tells me it is "exceedingly rare in Guatemala. * * * I
have never seen the cerulean warbler in Central America." In Ecuador, I
found a male in the Pastaza Valley, at an altitude of about 4,000 feet,
on October 15, 1939. Two days later this warbler had become fairly
common in this locality, and I saw several individuals.

_Winter._--Says Professor Cooke (1904): "The cerulean warbler is chiefly
found in winter in South America from Panamá south to Perú, in which
country it seems to have its center of abundance. In western Perú Jelski
(Taczanowski, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, p. 508, 1847) found it common at
Monterico and other places in the mountains east of Lima at 10,000 to
13,000 feet elevation, always in wandering flocks, which were sometimes
quite large and contained both old and young birds."


_Range._--North and South America from southern Canada to Perú and

_Breeding range._--The cerulean warbler breeds =north= to southern
Minnesota (Minneapolis); southern Wisconsin (Barahoo Bluffs, Madison,
and Racine, possibly as far north as New London); central Michigan
(Saginaw, Locke, and Detroit); southern Ontario (Thedford, Plover Mills,
Warren, and Delta; perhaps Manotick); and southern New York (Lockport,
Rochester, Ithaca, Santa Cruz Park, and Wappingers Creek, Dutchess
County). =East= to southeastern New York (Dutchess County); rarely
northeastern Maryland (Towson); southwestern Delaware (Seaford); western
Virginia (Charlottesville and Natural Bridge); western North Carolina
(Morganton and Pink Beds); and northern Georgia (Lumpkin County and
Atlanta). =South= to north-central Georgia (Atlanta); south-central
Alabama (Autaugaville and Greensboro); northern Louisiana (Monroe and
Caddo Lake); and northern Texas (Texarkana and Dallas). =West= to
northeastern Texas (Dallas); northeastern Oklahoma (Copan); southeastern
Kansas (Independence); eastern Nebraska (Omaha and Pilgrim Hill, Dakota
County); western Iowa (Sioux City); and southern Minnesota

_Winter range._--The winter home of the cerulean warbler is northwestern
South America, in the valleys of the Andes from central Colombia
(Antioquia, Medellín, and Bogotá) through Ecuador (Río Napo, Sara-yacu,
and the Pataza Valley); to southern Perú (Huachipa and Lima). It has
also been found occasionally or accidentally in central northern
Venezuela (Rancho Grande); and in western Bolivia (Nairapi and Tilotilo
near La Paz). Casual in winter or migration in the Cayman Islands and
western Cuba.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure are: Perú--Huambo, March
15. Ecuador--near San José, March 31. Colombia--Buena Vista, March 4.
Florida--Pensacola, April 26. Texas--Austin, April 30.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Florida--Dry Tortugas Island, March
23. Alabama--Greensboro, March 26. Georgia--Atlanta, April 13. South
Carolina--Clemson (College), April 21. North Carolina--Asheville, April
23. Virginia--Charlottesville, April 13. West Virginia--Wheeling, April
23. Pennsylvania--McKeesport, April 23. New York--Corning, April 25.
Louisiana--Grand Isle, March 27. Arkansas--Tillar, April 6.
Tennessee--Athens, April 4. Kentucky--Eubank, April 5. Illinois--Olney,
April 18. Indiana--Bloomington, April 11. Michigan--Bay City, April 26.
Ohio--Toledo, April 20. Ontario--Hamilton, April 25. Missouri--St.
Louis, April 12. Iowa--Hillsboro, April 18. Minnesota--Faribault, April
29. Texas--Victoria, March 17. Oklahoma--Copan, March 27.
Kansas--Independence, April 24.

Late dates of fall departure are: Ontario--Point Pelee, September 5.
Michigan--Detroit, September 5. Ohio--Ashtabula, September 27.
Indiana--Whiting, October 4. Illinois--Chicago, September 28.
Kentucky--Versailles, September 4. Tennessee--Athens, September 27.
Mississippi--Gulfport, September 17. Oklahoma--Copan, October 1.
Texas--Austin, September 27. New York--New York, September 18.
Pennsylvania--Berwyn, September 29. North Carolina--Raleigh, September
16. Georgia--Augusta, September 16. Alabama--Birmingham, September 21.
Florida--Pensacola, September 18. Costa Rica--San José, October 24.

Early dates of fall arrival are: Texas--Austin, July 20.
Mississippi--Beauvoir, July 12. Virginia--Sweet Briar, July 20.
Georgia--Athens, July 28. Florida--Pensacola, July 23. Costa Rica--Villa
Quesada, August 23. Ecuador--Río Oyacachi, August 10. Perú--Huachipa,
October 3.

_Casual records._--The majority of the cerulean warblers found east of
the Allegheny Mountains might be considered as casual. All records for
New England should as yet be so considered, though the species has
increased in eastern New York in recent years. About 10 individuals have
been recorded in Massachusetts; two in Rhode Island, and one in New
Hampshire. On June 2, 1924, one was collected at Whitewater Lake, in
southwestern Manitoba, the farthest north that the species has been
found. There are two records for North Dakota; one near Jamestown on May
28, 1931, and another near Minot on May 24, 1937. A cerulean warbler was
recorded near Denver, Colorado, on May 17, 1883, and a specimen
collected on September 2, 1936, on Cherry Creek in Douglas County. A
bird "observed at the Mimbres during the latter part of April" is the
only record for New Mexico. On October 1, 1947, a specimen was collected
at the southeastern edge of the Salton Sea in California; and on October
2, 1925, a specimen was collected near La Grulla in the Sierra San Pedro
Mártir, Baja California.

_Egg dates._--Ontario: 3 records, June 2 to 13.

New York: 22 records, May 29 to July 9; 15 records, June 1 to 4.

Pennsylvania: 5 records, May 16 to 26.



PLATES 40, 41


Bagg and Eliot (1937) give the following account of the history of the
naming of the Blackburnian Warbler:

Some time in the later eighteenth century, a specimen (apparently
female) was sent from New York to England, and there described and named
for a Mrs. Blackburn who collected stuffed birds and was a patron to
ornithology. _Blackburniae_--Gmelin's latinization, in 1788, of this
English name--was its scientific designation until quite recently, when
in an obscure German publication, dated 1776, were discovered a
description of a specimen from French Guiana (which is well east of the
species' normal winter range), and the name _fusca_, blackish. Wilson
recognized the male as a rare transient near Philadelphia, but when he
shot a female (apparently, though he called it a male) in the Great Pine
Swamp, Pa., he named it _Sylvia parus_, the Hemlock Warbler. Audubon,
too, considered the Blackburnian and Hemlock Warblers distinct.

Blackburnian seems to be a doubly appropriate name, for its upper parts
are largely black and its throat burns like a brilliant orange flame
amid the dark foliage of the hemlocks and spruces. A glimpse of such a
brilliant gem, flashing out from its sombre surroundings, is fairly

Throughout most of the eastern half of the United States the
Blackburnian warbler is known only as a migrant, mainly from the
Mississippi Valley eastward. Its summer range extends from Manitoba
eastward to Nova Scotia, from Minnesota to New England, and southward in
the Allegheny Mountains to South Carolina and Georgia, in the Lower
Canadian and Upper Transition Zones. For its breeding haunts it prefers
the deep evergreen woods where spruces, firs, and hemlocks predominate,
or often swampy woods where the black spruces are thickly draped with
_Usnea_, offering concealment for birds and nests.

In Massachusetts, which is about the southern limit of its breeding
range in New England, William Brewster (1888) describes its haunts at
Winchendon as follows: "On both high and low ground, wherever there were
spruces in any numbers, whether by themselves or mixed with other trees,
and also to some extent where the growth was entirely of hemlocks, the
Blackburnian Warbler was one of the most abundant and characteristic
summer birds, in places even outnumbering the Black-throated Green
Warbler, although it shunned strictly the extensive tracts of white
pines which _D. virens_ seemed to find quite as congenial as any of the
other evergreens."

Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) that at Monadnock, New
Hampshire, it is "a very common summer resident. It is one of the four
deep-wood Warblers of this region, the other three being the
Black-throated Blue, the Northern Parula and the Canada. While all the
other summer Warblers of Monadnock seem better pleased with various
sorts of lighter timber, these four are commonest in the small remaining
tracts of primeval woodland, and in the heaviest and oldest second
growth. But despite this general community of habit, each of the four
has marked minor idiosyncrasies. The Blackburnian favors very big trees,
particularly hemlocks, and spends most of its life high above the

Professor Maurice Brooks (1936) says that Blackburnian warblers "are
thoroughly at home in the deciduous second-growth timber that in so many
places has replaced the coniferous forest. They range down to elevations
of 2,500 feet in northern West Virginia. Here they associate with
Golden-winged and Chestnut-sided warblers. A favorite perch is on some
chestnut tree that has been killed by the blight." Rev. J. J. Murray
tells me that, in Virginia, it is "common above 1,500 feet, wherever
there are conifers." And Thomas D. Burleigh (1941) says of its status
on Mount Mitchell in western North Carolina: "Although not known to
breed above an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet, this species is
fairly plentiful during the late summer in the fir and spruce woods at
the top of the mountain, appearing regularly in July and lingering
through September."

_Spring._--The Blackburnian warbler is apparently rare in spring in the
Atlantic States south of North Carolina; its migration range extends
westward to the plains of eastern Texas, eastern Kansas, and eastern
Nebraska, but it is rare west of the forested regions of the Mississippi
Valley. Professor Cooke (1904) says that the average rate of migration
"from the mouth of the Mississippi to its source, where it breeds,
appears to be scarcely 25 miles per day." Forbush (1929) writes:

It is generally regarded as rare in migration in Massachusetts, though
probably untold numbers pass over the state every year, but only a few
stop here. It is not when the birds are migrating that we see them, but
when they _stop_ to rest. * * * I can recall but two instances in my
lifetime when myriads of Blackburnian Warblers stopped here, though
other similar flights probably have come when I was not there to see. At
sunrise one morning in early May, many years ago, when the tiny green
leaves were just breaking forth on the tall trees of the woods near
Worcester, Blackburnians were everywhere in the tree-tops. They swarmed
in the woods for miles. Years later, in Amesbury, on another May
morning, the night flight, having met a cold wave from the north with a
light frost, had come down to earth and the birds were busily looking
for food; many Blackburnians and many other warblers were in the low
shrubbery, in the grass, and even on plowed fields in every direction
all through the village and about the farms. The sudden cold had stopped
them. A few hours later as the day grew warmer they disappeared and were
not seen again.

Brewster (1906) says: "We see the beautiful Blackburnian oftenest during
the later part of May, in extensive tracts of upland woods, where it
spends much of its time in the tops of the larger trees, showing a
decided preference for hemlocks and white pines. In Cambridge I have
repeatedly observed it in our garden and the immediate neighborhood,
usually in tall elms or in blossoming apple trees."

_Nesting._--So far as I can learn, the nest of the Blackburnian warbler
is almost always placed in a coniferous tree at heights ranging from 5
feet to over 80 feet above the ground; nests have been reported many
times in hemlocks, which seems to be a favorite tree, but also in
spruces, firs, tamaracks, pines and even a cedar. Ora W. Knight (1908)
says: "I have found them breeding in colonies as a rule, that is to say,
in a rather dense, mossy carpeted tract of evergreen woods near the pond
at Pittsfield [Maine], covering perhaps a square mile, there were about
ten pairs of these birds to be found, and in a tract of similar woods
about half this size at Bangor there are often six or eight pair
nesting. In other words, in suitable localities they tend to congregate
in loosely scattered assemblies, while in less suitable spots,
generally none, or at most a single pair will be found." Of a nest found
near Winchendon, Mass., Brewster (1888) writes:

The nest, which was found by watching the female, was built at a height
of about thirty feet above the ground, on the horizontal branch of a
black spruce, some six feet out from the main stem. Its bottom rested
securely near the base of a short, stout twig. Above and on every side
masses of dark spruce foliage, rendered still denser by a draping of
_Usnea_ (which covered the entire tree profusely), hid the nest so
perfectly that not a vestige of it could be seen from any direction.
This nest is composed outwardly of fine twigs, among which some of the
surrounding _Usnea_ is entangled and interwoven. The lining is of horse
hair, fine, dry grasses, and a few of the black rootlets used by _D.
maculosa_. The whole structure is light and airy in appearance, and
resembles rather closely the nest of the Chipping Sparrow.

The highest nest of which I can find any record is one reported by Dr.
C. Hart Merriam (1885), found by A. J. Dayan in a grove of large white
pines (_Pinus strobus_), in Lewis County, N. Y. It was saddled on a
horizontal limb of one of the pines, about 84 feet from the ground and
about 10 feet out from the trunk. "The nest is large, substantial, and
very compact. It consists almost entirely of a thick and densely woven
mat of the soft down of the cattail (_Typha latifolia_), with seeds
attached, and is lined with fine lichens, horse hair, and a piece of
white thread. On the outside is an irregular covering of small twigs and
rootlets, with here and there a stem of moss or a bit of lichen."

The lowest nests that I have heard of are recorded in Frederic H.
Kennard's notes from Maine; one was only 5-1/2 feet up and the other 9
feet from the ground in small spruces. Mrs. Nice (1932) found a nest
near her mother's home in Pelham, Mass., that was "18 feet from the
ground near the top of a cedar among comparatively open, young growth,
40 yards south of the house and 150 yards to the east of the great pines
and hemlocks where the male habitually sang." The only nest of this
warbler that I have ever seen was found by watching the female building
it, on June 16, 1913, on an island in Lake Winnipegosis, Manitoba; it
was only about 10 feet from the ground, near the end of a drooping
branch of a large black spruce that stood on the edge of some coniferous
woods next to an open swale. The nest, shaded from above, was partly
concealed from below by dense foliage and was, apparently, well made of
soft fibers, deeply cupped, and lined with some dark material and a
little willow cotton. I was not able to visit the island again.

In New York State and in Pennsylvania, the nests of the Blackburnian
warbler are almost invariably placed in hemlocks. All of the four nests
recorded by T. E. McMullen (MS.) from the Pocono Mountains, Pa., were in
hemlocks. And Todd (1940) states that with one exception all the nests
found by R. B. Simpson, of Warren, Pa., were in hemlocks, "at
elevations varying from twenty to fifty feet. The exceptional nest was
in a large chestnut, sixty feet from the ground."

Dr. Roberts (1936) mentions a Minnesota nest "situated in an arbor vitae
tree, directly over the entrance to a cabin," and one "placed in a small
spruce, close to the trunk, about 2 feet from the top of the tree and
about 20 feet from the ground." Another was found in "a jack-pine tree,
20 feet from the ground, 6 feet from the trunk, resting in a tangle of
small branches, and concealed by a closely overhanging branch."

_Eggs._--The Blackburnian warbler lays normally 4 or 5 eggs, usually 4;
in a series of 14 sets there are only 3 sets of 5. They are ovate to
short ovate and slightly glossy. The ground color is snowy white or very
pale greenish white, and is handsomely spotted and blotched with
"auburn," "bay," "argus brown," "Mars brown," or "mummy brown," with
undertones of "brownish drab," or "light vinaceous-drab." On some eggs
the drab marks are the most prevalent, with fewer but more prominent
spots or blotches of dark brown shades, such as "Mars brown" and "mummy
brown." Others have spots of "auburn" and "bay" so concentrated that
they form a solid band around the large end. In addition a few small
scrawls of brownish black are often found. Generally speaking the
markings tend to form a wreath, but some eggs are spotted more or less
evenly all over the surface. The measurements of 50 eggs average 17.2 by
12.8 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure =18.0= by
13.6, 17.0 by =13.7=, =15.6= by 12.5, and 17.1 by =12.0= millimeters

_Young._--We have no information on incubation and very little on the
care of the young. The male has been seen to go onto the nest, and
evidently shares occasionally in the duty of incubation. Both parents
help in feeding the young, as noted by Mrs. Nice (1932) at the nest she
was watching. When Mrs. Nice's daughter climbed a tree near the nest,
the female "assumed a peculiar attitude, her tail outspread and dropped
at right angles to her body, her wings flipping rapidly and occasionally
held stiffly up or down. The excitement caused the young to jump out on
the ground where they could not be found."

_Plumages._--Dr. Dwight (1900) calls the natal down sepia-brown, and in
speaking of the males, describes the juvenal plumage as "above, dark
sepia-brown obscurely streaked on the back with clove-brown. Wings and
tail clove-brown edged with olive-buff, the tertiaries and coverts with
white forming two wing bands at tips of greater and median coverts; the
outer three rectrices largely white. Below, white, washed with wood
brown or buff on breast and sides, spotted, except on chin, abdomen and
crissum, with dull sepia. Superciliary stripe cream-buff, spot on upper
and under eyelid white; lores and auriculars dusky."

A partial postjuvenal molt begins early in August, involving the contour
plumage and the wing coverts but not the rest of the wings or the tail.
This produces the first winter plumage, which he describes as "above,
deep yellowish olive-gray, flecked on the crown and streaked on the back
with black; obscure median crown stripe straw-yellow; rump and upper
tail coverts black, edged with olive-gray. Wing coverts clove-brown
edged with olive-gray and tipped with white forming two broad wing
bands. Below, straw-yellow brightening to orange-tinged lemon on the
throat, fading to buffy white on the crissum and narrowly streaked on
the sides with black veiled by yellow edgings. Superciliary stripe and
post-auricular region lemon-yellow orange-tinged. Auriculars, rictal
streak and transocular stripe olive-gray mixed with black. Suborbital
spot yellowish white."

He says that the first nuptial plumage is "acquired by a partial
prenuptial moult which involves most of the body plumage (except
posteriorly), the wing coverts and sometimes the tertiaries but not the
rest of the wings nor the tail. The full orange and black plumage is
assumed, young and old becoming practically indistinguishable, the
orange throat equally intense in both, the wings and tail usually
browner in the young bird and the primary coverts a key to age."

The adult winter plumage is acquired by a complete postnuptial molt in
July, and "differs little from the first winter dress, but the yellow
more distinctly orange, the transocular and rictal streaks, the crown
and auriculars distinctly black, veiled with orange tips, the streaking
below heavier and broader, the wings and tail blacker and the edgings
grayer." The adult nuptial plumage is acquired as in the young bird;
this molt evidently begins in February, while the birds are in their
winter quarters, and is usually finished before they reach their summer

Of the females, Dr. Dwight says:

The plumages and moults correspond to those of the male. In juvenal
plumage the wing edgings are usually duller, the first winter plumage
being similar to that of the male but browner, the yellow tints nearly
lost and the streakings obscure and grayish. The first nuptial plumage,
assumed by a more or less limited prenuptial moult, is grayer above and
paler below, except on the chin and throat where new pale orange
feathers contrast with the worn and faded ones of the breast. The adult
winter plumage is practically the same as the male first winter, the
auriculars and transocular stripe usually duller. The adult nuptial
plumage is brighter below than the first nuptial and with more spotting
on the crown, but the black head and bright orange throat of the male
are never acquired.

_Food._--The Blackburnian warbler is mainly insectivorous like other
wood warblers, feeding almost entirely on the forest pests that are so
injurious to the trees. F. H. King (1883), writing of its food in
Wisconsin, says: "Of nine specimens examined, four had eaten nine small
beetles; five, nineteen caterpillars; one, ants; and one, small winged
insect. In the stomachs of three examined collectively, were found four
caterpillars, four ants, one dipterous insect .09 of an inch long, one
medium sized heteropterous insect, four large crane-flies, and one
ichneumon-fly (?). Another bird had in its stomach one heteropterous
insect (_Tingis_), nine small caterpillars, two leaf-beetles, and two
large crane-flies."

Ora W. Knight (1908) writes: "In general I have found large quantities
of the wing cases and harder body portions of beetles in the stomachs of
such Blackburnian Warblers as I have dissected, also unidentifiable
grubs, worms, larvae of various lepidopterous insects and similar
material. As a rule they feed by passing from limb to limb and examining
the foliage and limbs of trees, more seldom catching anything in the

R. W. Sheppard (1939), of Niagara Falls, Ontario, observed a male
Blackburnian warbler in his garden for several days, November 5 to 11,
1938, that appeared to be traveling with two chickadees, among some
willow trees. "An examination of the row of low willow trees which
appeared to be so attractive to this particular warbler, revealed the
presence of numbers of active aphids and innumerable newly laid aphis
eggs, and it is probable that these insects and their eggs provided the
major incentive for the repeated and prolonged visits of this very late

Henry D. Minot (1877) observed "a pair feeding upon ivy berries" on
April 21, when insects were not yet common in Massachusetts.

_Behavior._--William Brewster (1938) describes what he thought was the
unique behavior of a female Blackburnian warbler at its nest, although a
similar habit has been observed in other wood warblers. Even though the
eggs "were perfectly fresh the female sat so closely that thumping and
shaking the tree (a slender one) failed to start her, and when Watrous
climbed it he nearly touched her before she slipped off. She then
dropped like a stone to the ground over which she crawled and tumbled
and fluttered with widespread tail and quivering wings much like a Water
Thrush or Oven Bird and evidently with the hope of leading us away from
the nest."

The Blackburnian is pre-eminently a forest warbler and a tree-top bird.
On migrations it frequents the tops of the trees in the deciduous
forests, often in company with other wood warblers; and on its breeding
grounds in the coniferous forests the male loves to perch on the topmost
tip of some tall spruce and sing for long periods, his fiery breast
gleaming in the sunlight. As his mate is probably sitting on her nest
not far away, his serenity may be disturbed by the appearance of a
rival; but the intruder in his territory is promptly driven away and he
resumes his singing.

_Voice._--Aretas A. Saunders has sent me the following study: "The song
of the Blackburnian warbler is one that is usually of two distinct
parts, the first a series of notes or 2-note phrases all on one pitch,
and the second a faster series, or a trill, on a different pitch. It is
very high in pitch, with a thin, wiry quality, rather unmusical, and not
loud but penetrating.

"Of my 34 records, 25 have the second part higher in pitch than the
first, while in the other 9 it is lower. I do not think, however, that
this means that the higher ending is commoner, for there is reason to
think that the difference is geographical. Of 11 records of migrating
birds in Connecticut, 10 end in the higher pitch. Of 15 records from
breeding birds in the Adirondacks, 13 end in the higher pitch; but of 8
records of breeding birds in Allegany State Park in western New York,
only 2 end in the higher pitch, and 6 in the lower.

"In 20 of the records the first part of the song is of 2-note phrases,
but the remainder is of single repeated notes. In 6 records, ending in a
higher pitch, the final trill slurs upward in pitch, suggesting the
ending of a typical parula song in form. In 10 of the records the second
part is much shorter than the first.

"Songs vary from 1-2/5 to 2-2/5 seconds, averaging a little longer than
those of other species of this genus. The number of notes in songs,
excepting those with trills, varies from 7 to 25, and averages 14. Pitch
varies from D´´´´ to F´´´´, one and a half tones more than an octave. It
ranks with the black-polled and bay-breasted warblers in the very high
pitch of its upper notes but shows more variation in pitch than either.

"The song of this bird ceases earlier in summer than most others. In 14
summers in Allegany Park, the average date of the last song was July 12,
the earliest July 4, 1929, and the latest July 22, 1935. I have never
heard singing in late summer after the molt."

Francis H. Allen sends me his impressions as follows: "Like so many of
our warblers, the Blackburnian has two song-forms, but both are subject
to great individual variation. An extremely high note is almost an
invariable characteristic. In one form it is the closing note, and in
the other it ends each repeated phrase of a succession that constitutes
the main part of the song. The first song resembles that of the parula,
but ends with this high note, while the main part is less buzzy and more
what I might call pebbly in character. The second I have been accustomed
to call the chickawee song because of the repeated phrase which suggests
those syllables. At Sherburne, Vt., in June, 1907, I found the
Blackburnians singing a song that I rendered as _ch[)i]-ee ch[)i]-ee
ch[)i]-ee ch[)i]-ee chip_. Another rendering of the same or a similar
song, recorded at Jaffrey, N. H., May 30, 1910, was _serwée serwée
serwée serwée serwíp_, with the emphasis on the _wip_. At New London, N.
H., in June, 1931, where this was perhaps the commonest of the warblers,
I was particularly impressed by the variability of both the songs. In
some, the very high and attenuated notes were so short that for some
time I failed to recognize their source. One bird sang _chiddle chiddle
chiddle chick-a chick-a cheet_. At Hog Island in Muscongus Bay, Maine,
in June, 1936, I heard a song of which only a sweet _weet weet weet
weet_ carried to a distance, but of which, heard near at hand, the end
was found to be a short, confused succession of high-pitched, dry notes
concluding with a very high, short note. This was, I think, the most
pleasing performance I have ever heard from this species."

Mrs. Nice (1932) mentions three different songs; the commonest and
shortest, like the parula's in form, lasts for one second and is given
at intervals of 7-1/2 to 10 seconds; the rarest and longest lasts for
two seconds and is given at intervals of 10 or 14 seconds.

A. D. DuBois tells me that the Blackburnian warbler "has a song not
unlike that of the dickcissel in its general form, although much subdued
in volume." Gerald Thayer wrote to Dr. Chapman (1907) of two or more
different songs of this warbler, and says:

Its voice is thin, but, unlike the Parula's, exquisitely smooth, in all
the many variations of its two (or more) main songs. * * * Even the tone
quality is not quite constant, for though it never, in my experience,
varies toward huskiness, it does occasionally range toward full-voiced
richness. Thus I have heard a Blackburnian that began his otherwise
normal song with two or three clear notes much like those of the most
full and smooth-voiced performance of the American Redstart's, and
another that began so much like a Nashville that I had to hear him
several times, near by, to be convinced that there was not a Nashville
chiming in. Sometimes, again, tone and delivery are varied toward
excessive languidness; and sometimes, contrariwise, toward sharp, wiry

_Enemies._--Dr. Friedmann (1929) calls the Blackburnian warbler "a very
uncommon victim of the Cowbird." Dr. Merriam (1885) records a nest of
this warbler that was 84 feet from the ground, containing four warbler's
eggs and one of the cowbird, of which Friedmann remarks: "This is
probably the altitude record for a Cowbird's egg, bettering by some
twenty feet my highest record at Ithaca, a Cowbird's egg in a nest of a
Pine Warbler about sixty feet up."

Harold S. Peters (1936) records two species of lice, _Menacanthus
chrysophaeum_ (Kellogg) and _Ricinus_ pallens (Kellogg), and one mite,
_Proctophyllodes_ sp., as external parasites of this warbler.

_Field marks._--The adult male Blackburnian warbler in spring plumage is
unmistakable, with its black upper parts, large white patch in the
wings, orange stripe in center of the crown and another over the eye,
and, especially, the flaming orange throat and breast. The female in the
spring and the male in the fall are similarly marked, but the colors are
much duller. The colors of young birds in the fall are even duller, and
the back is brownish, but the white outer web of the basal half of the
outer tail feather should indicate the species.

_Fall._--Early in August, young and old birds begin to gather into
flocks preparing to migrate, and before the end of that month most of
them have left their breeding grounds. All through August and most of
September, we may see them drifting through our deciduous woods in mixed
flocks with other species of warblers. These migrating flocks are
generally so high up in the tree tops and are so active in their
movements that it is not easy to identify them in their dull winter

By early October, most of the Blackburnian warblers have passed beyond
the United States, en route to their winter home in South America.
Professor Cooke (1904) says: "By the middle of October the earliest
migrants have reached Venezuela and Ecuador. The main army of the
Blackburnians pass the south end of the Alleghenies between September 25
and October 5, and during the first two weeks of October are moving
through San José, Costa Rica, and by early in November are settled for
the winter in Perú."

Dickey and van Rossem (1838) refer to it as a "fairly common fall
migrant and very rare winter visitant in the Arid Lower Tropical Zone"
in El Salvador, but "not seen in spring."

_Winter._--Dr. Alexander F. Skutch contributes the following notes:
"Rarely recorded, and apparently only as a bird of passage, in
Guatemala, the Blackburnian warbler is a moderately abundant winter
resident in Costa Rica. Here it passes the winter months on both slopes
of the Cordillera, from about 1,500 to 6,000 feet above sea-level, but
is far more abundant above than below 3,000 feet. It is found in
midwinter both in heavy forest and among scattered tall trees. Although
the birds appear to arrive in flocks in late August or September, they
soon disperse through the woodland and show slight sociability. Yet one
or two may at times join a mixed flock of Tennessee warblers and other
small birds. Restlessly active, the Blackburnian warbler forages well
above the ground, where it is difficult to see. I have never heard its
song in Central America.

"Early dates of fall arrival are: Guatemala--Chimoxan (Griscom), October
1; Panajachel (Griscom), October 4. Costa Rica--San José (Cherrie),
September 8; San José (Underwood), Septem 10; La Hondura (Carriker),
September 19; San Isidro de Coronado, September 8, 1935; Vara Blanca,
August 19, 1937; Cartago, September 13, 1938; Murcia, September 14,
1941; Basin of El General, September 16, 1936; Ujarrás (Carriker),
September 12. Ecuador--Volcán Tungurahua, 7,400 feet, October 12, 1939.

"Late dates of spring departure from Central America are: Costa
Rica--Basin of El General, March 25, 1936, March 13, 1937 and April 18,
1943; Vara Blanca, May 7, 1938; Pejivalle, April 23, 1941; Bonilla
(Basulto), April 10. Guatemala--Finca Sepacuite (Griscom), May 10."


_Range._--Southern Canada east of the Great Plains to Central Perú.

_Breeding range._--The Blackburnian warbler breeds =north= to southern
Manitoba (Lake St. Martin and Berens Island, Lake Winnipeg); central
Ontario (Lac Seul, Lake Abitibi, and North Bay; has occurred at Trout
Lake); and central Quebec (Blue Sea Lake, Lake Albanel, rarely; Lake St.
John and Gaspé; possibly Pointe de Monts and Natashquan). =East= to
eastern Quebec (Gaspé); eastern New Brunswick (Bathurst and Tabusintac);
and eastern Nova Scotia (Antigonish and Halifax). =South= to Nova Scotia
(Halifax); southern Maine (Calais, Lewiston, and Portland);
Massachusetts (Cambridge, Springfield, and Sheffield); northern New
Jersey (Kittatinny Mountains); central Pennsylvania (Mauch Chunk and
Carlisle); and south through the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, West
Virginia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee to northern Georgia
(Brasstown Bald and Burnt Mountain); western Pennsylvania (Leasureville
and Meadville); northeastern Ohio (Pymatuning Swamp and possibly
Geneva); northern Michigan (Bay City and Wequetonsing); northern
Wisconsin (New London, Unity and Ladysmith); and northern Minnesota (Elk
River, Onamia, and Itasca Park). =West= to northwestern Minnesota
(Itasca Park) and southeastern Manitoba (Winnipeg and Lake St. Martin).

A possible future extension of range westward is seen in records from
Saskatchewan: it was recorded four times near Indian Head 1888-1901; one
at Last Mountain Lake in 1920, at Lake Johnston in 1922; and at Emma
Lake in the summer of 1939, possibly breeding.

_Winter range._--The Blackburnian warbler is reported to winter commonly
in Costa Rica, but as yet has been found in Panamá only as a migrant. In
South America it is found =north= to northern Colombia (Santa Marta
region); and central northern Venezuela (Rancho Grande). =East= to
northwestern Venezuela (Rancho Grande, Mérida, and Páramo de Tamá); the
eastern slope of the Andes in Colombia (Pamplona, Bogotá, and San
Antonio); Ecuador (Mount Sumaca, Machay, and Zamora); and Perú (Chinchao
and Huambo). =South= to central Perú (Huambo and Anquimarca). =West= to
western Perú (Anquimarca and Tambillo); Ecuador (Ambato, Quito, and
Parambo); and Colombia (Concordia, Medellín, and the Santa Marta
region). It is casual in migration in the Bahamas and Cuba.

_Migration._--Late dates of spring departure from the winter home are:
Perú--Chelpes, April 22. Ecuador--Quito, May 10. Venezuela--Rancho
Grande, April 22. Colombia--La Porquera, April 24. Costa Rica--Vera
Blanca, May 7.

Early dates of spring arrival are: Panamá--Garachiné, March 5.
Florida--Pensacola, April 5. Alabama--Hollins, April 4. Georgia--Athens,
March 29. South Carolina--Aiken, April 17. North Carolina--Weaverville,
April 16. Virginia--Lynchburg, April 25. West Virginia--White Sulphur
Springs, April 17. District of Columbia--Washington, April 23.
Pennsylvania--Renovo, April 27. New York--Rochester, April 26.
Massachusetts--Melrose, April 29. Vermont--Wells River, April 30.
Maine--Portland, May 4. New Brunswick--Scotch Lake, May 5.
Quebec--Montreal, May 10. Louisiana--Lake Borgne, March 27.
Mississippi--Gulfport, March 27. Tennessee--Chattanooga, March 31.
Kentucky--Lexington, April 12. Indiana--Brookville, April 15.
Ohio--Oberlin, April 19. Michigan--Hillsdale, April 22.
Ontario--London, April 27. Arkansas--Huttig, April 15. Missouri--Bolivar,
April 20. Iowa--Davenport, April 28. Wisconsin--Unity, April 27.
Minnesota--Waseca, April 30. Texas--Boerne, March 31.
Nebraska--Stapleton, May 1. South Dakota--Vermilion, May 3.
Manitoba--Aweme, May 14.

Late dates of spring departure of transients are: Florida--Pensacola,
May 9. Alabama--Autaugaville, May 12. Georgia--Athens, May 7. South
Carolina--Spartanburg, May 12. North Carolina--Greensboro, May 17.
Virginia--Charlottesville, May 28. District of Columbia--Washington,
June 3. Pennsylvania--Norristown, May 30. New York--New York, June 7.
Louisiana--New Orleans, April 23. Mississippi--Corinth, May 12.
Kentucky--Lexington, May 16. Illinois--Lake Forest, June 9.
Ohio--Toledo, June 12. Arkansas--Rogers, May 12. Missouri--Kansas City,
May 30. Iowa--Sigourney, June 1. Texas--Commerce, May 18.
Nebraska--Fairbury, May 26. South Dakota--Yankton, June 2.

Late dates of fall departure are: Saskatchewan--Last Mountain Lake,
September 1. Nebraska--Fairbury, October 14. Texas--Brownsville, October
2. Minnesota--Saint Paul, September 25. Wisconsin--Madison, September
27. Ontario--Hamilton, October 3. Michigan--Ann Arbor, October 8.
Indiana--Waterloo, October 17. Kentucky--Danville, October 16.
Missouri--St. Louis, October 6. Tennessee--Memphis, October 28.
Arkansas--Chicat, October 4. Mississippi--Eudora, October 24.
Louisiana--New Orleans, October 9. Quebec--Hatley, September 30. New
Brunswick--Scotch Lake, September 28. Maine--Phillips, September 17. New
Hampshire--Hanover, September 24. Massachusetts--Wellesley, October 23.
New York--Canandaigua, October 12. Pennsylvania--Berwyn, October 19.
District of Columbia--Washington, October 10. West Virginia--Bluefield,
October 8. Virginia--Sweet Briar, November 1. Georgia--Tifton, November
2. Alabama--Birmingham, October 25. Florida--Arcadia, October 30.
Cuba--Bosque de la Habana, October 30.

Early dates of fall arrival are: North Dakota--Argusville, August 23.
Texas--Commerce, August 28. Illinois--Glen Ellyn, August 19.
Ohio--Little Cedar Point, July 31. Kentucky--Versailles, August 31.
Tennessee--Nashville, August 29. Mississippi--Bay St. Louis, August 11.
New York--New York, August 11. Pennsylvania--Berwyn, August 19. District
of Columbia--Washington, August 2. Virginia--Charlottesville, August 10.
North Carolina--Mount Mitchell, July 30. Georgia--Savannah, August 10.
Florida--Key West, July 29. Cuba--Santiago de las Vegas, September 20.
Costa Rica--San José, August 17. Colombia--Santa Isabel, September 22.
Venezuela--Escorial, October 14. Ecuador--Tumbaco, October 12.
Perú--Tambillo, November 19.

_Casual records._--A specimen of Blackburnian warbler was collected at
Frederickshaab, Greenland, on October 16, 1845. One was taken at Ogden,
Utah, in September 1871, and another near Fort Bayard, N.M., in May
1876. On August 21, 1924, a male was watched closely for sometime near
Libby, Mont.

_Egg dates._--Maine: 5 records, June 2 to 17.

New York: 23 records, May 29 to July 6; 16 records, June 7 to 17,
indicating the height of the season.

New Hampshire: 6 records, May 23 to June 18.

Pennsylvania: 5 records, May 28 to June 9.

Quebec: 2 records, June 15 and 20.




PLATES 42, 43


One of the botanical attractions of the South is the Spanish moss
(_Tillandsia usneoides_) that drapes with its graceful, swaying strands
the cypresses in the lagoons and backwaters, the live oaks that stand in
spectacular avenues on the approaches of so many plantations of the
Carolina Low Country and in magnificent groves throughout the Coastal
Plain, and even the pines that forest wide reaches of Georgia and
northern Florida. To many ornithologists the thought of this Spanish
moss brings to mind the birds partial to it, particularly the eastern
yellow-throated warbler. Indeed, in the coastal part of the range of
this bird the two are all but synonymous, so that where the moss is
scarce, so, too, is the eastern yellow-throated warbler. Since childhood
I have thought of this little gray and yellow sprite, one of the
handsomest of a handsome tribe, as the animated spirit of the
Spanish-moss country.

_Spring._--The eastern yellow-throated warbler is much less migratory
than many species of its genus. In the southern portion of its range it
is a permanent resident, though of course, quiet at that season and
therefore difficult to find; but it occurs throughout the year and can
be seen on almost any day in winter from the Charleston, S. C., area
southward to Lake Okeechobee, Fla.

In Florida, though it is resident in much of the state, a marked
increase of migrants from the south occurs in late February and early
March. Arthur H. Howell (1932) states that "the beginning of spring
migration is indicated by the appearance of the birds at Sombrero Key
Light March 11th." He also states that F. M. Chapman noted arrivals at
Gainesville on March 2. (Some birds are mated by March 11 in the
vicinity of Charleston.) Thus, the spring migration seems a rather
erratic and long-drawn-out movement.

In the Pensacola region of Florida, F. M. Weston (MS.) writes: "Birds
that have wintered commence singing, and thus become conspicuous, early
in March. Incoming migrants gradually add to the number until, by the
first of April, the species is common and widely distributed in all
areas where Spanish moss is present. Howell considers this species as
one of the typical birds of the pine forests, but in this region, where
the moss is never found in pure stands of pine, the bird is absent from
the pine woods. In the Dead Lakes area, south of Marianna, Fla., a
drowned cypress swamp, the cypresses are covered with dense masses of
moss and the yellow-throated warbler is one of the characteristic

Arrival dates in Georgia are similar to those in South Carolina. Around
Charleston, there are comparatively few birds in evidence from November
until late February, though individuals may be seen throughout this
period. The barrier islands, typified by Bull's Island, seem to be
favorite wintering localities. In late February the song period begins,
coinciding with a distinct influx from the south, and soon the birds
seem almost everywhere. Arthur T. Wayne (1910) puts the twenty-seventh
of the month as the advent of the spring migration in Charleston. This
coincides with all my observations, though some variation may occur when
the spring is early or late.

In North Carolina the bird is much more common in the coast region than
the interior, but does occur scatteringly in the middle portion of the
state and sometimes considerably to the westward. It is absent in the
mountains but a few may be noted in the valleys of the foothills.
According to the findings of Pearson and the Brimleys (1942) it appears
about Raleigh on March 9. Probably the coastal areas are visited
earlier, perhaps by March 1. Uncertainty prevails regarding the arrival
of birds in the western parts of the state. These authors quote T. D.