Black and White Warbler

Common Name: Black-and-white Warbler

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Parulidae

Genus: Mniotilta

Species: Mniotilta varia

photo M. Noonan

Taxonomy/Description

The Black-and-white Warbler is a member of the family Parulid family in the avian order of Passeriformes (perching birds). The Black-and-white Warblers scientific name is Mniotilta varia which means “variegated moss- plucker”.

The Black-and-white Warbler is a black and white streaked warbler, as it’s name implies, and it is 11 to 13 cm in length. Females are generally smaller than males. The average mass of this warbler is 9 to 15 grams. The Black-and-white Warbler male is streaked with black and white stripes as well as a striped crown. The females have whiter under parts and are more of a creamy color.

Habitat/Diet

The Black-and-White Warblers prefer woodland areas and can often be found creeping on trunks and limbs of trees. Its main food source is insects that are eaten off of trees such as spiders, caterpillars, ants, beetles, and larvae. It is the only North American wood warbler to that regularly forages on bark.

Behavior/Reproduction

The Black-and-white Warbler is generally a solitary bird and is diurnal (active during the day). This warbler is also very territorial and defends its space through aggression towards other warblers. The Black-and-white Warbler is a migratory bird ranging from Canada to northern South America.

The Black-and-white Warbler mates in monogamous pair bonds. The female builds a cup nest on the ground near the base of a tree or fallen log and is concealed under dead leaves. The nest is made of leaves and coarse grass. The female lays 4-6 eggs a clutch and the female usually broods. Both parents feed the young which fledge 8 to 12 days after hatching. There is usually only one brood per year.

Where to see them in WNY

The Iroquois NWR is a great place to see these warblers. Both Swallow Hollow Nature Trail as well as Kanyoo Nature Trail are great places. Find an area where there are upland hardwood trees and start looking on the trunks and on the limbs.

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