Black-and-white Warbler



Common Name:Black-and-white Warbler





Species:Mniotilta varia

Photo: M. Noonan



The Black-and-white Warbler is a member of the order Passeriformes which groups together perching birds. It is a member of the Parulidae family which consists of New World Warblers. 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.  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. Females are generally smaller than males and paler markings.


The Black-and-White Warblers prefer woodland areas with deciduous trees and prefer more mature forests with swamps. This species is often seen creeping on trunks and limbs of trees like a nuthatch. 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. This species of warbler has also been seen feeding on insects attracted to the sap of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker holes.




The Black-and-white Warbler is generally a solitary bird and is diurnal (active during the day). The male Black-and-white Warbler is very territorial. He will arrive before the female to and will aggressively defend its territory. This species has also shown site fidelity which means that birds will return to the same area each year to breed. 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 incubates which last about 10 days. Both parents feed the young which fledge 8 to 12 days after hatching. There is usually only one brood per year.




The Black-and-white Warbler is found mainly in deciduous forests like Stiglmeier Park and Tifft Nature Preserve. During the migratory season they are found in high numbers in Forest Lawn, Tifft Nature Preserve and Iroquois NWR but these warblers can also be seen in these areas during the summer as well.


Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.