Blackburnian Warbler


Common Name: Blackburnian Warbler

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Parulaidae

Genus: Setophaga

Species: Setophaga fusca

Photo: Sara Morris





The Blackburnian Warbler is a member of the Order Passeriformes, Family Parulidae. It is a small warbler but the breeding adult male has very distinctive plumage. It has a deep orange throat and yellow head with black stripes. The wings are dark with white bands and the flanks are white with dark streaking. Females have similar plumage but it is much duller, as they do not need to use it to advertise for mates while the males do.


The Blackburnian Warbler winters in Costa Rica and other parts of South America and it migrates using forest habitats as stopover sites. The Blackburnian Warbler most commonly spends its breeding season in coniferous and deciduous forests and avoids black spruce and jack pines. During this time it is almost completely insectivorous. During migration and the wintering season it has been known to eat some fruits and berries. It is a diurnal forager but mostly forages during the early and midmorning as well as the late evening.


Photo: Sara Morris



The Blackburnian Warbler is monogamous. Territories are set up in the breeding season almost as soon as they return from the wintering grounds. The males defend these territories by singing, leaving very infrequently, and aggressively attacking any competitors. The males court the females by hopping about it, vibrating its wings and spreading its tail. Copulation occurs on the second day of nest building and the male then guards the female. They remain together until after the young are fledged and leave the nest. During the breeding season they only assort with their mates but in the non-breeding season they are often found in multi-breed foraging flocks.




The Blackburnian Warbler is found in western New York in coniferous forests where it prefers spruce trees. It is here during its breeding season, which begins in mid- to early May.


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.