Blackpoll Warbler


Common Name:Blackpoll Warbler





Species:Setophaga striata

Photo: M. Noonan



Blackpoll Warblers are passerines in the Parulidae family which groups them together with other Wood Warblers. Blackpolls are about 5.5 inches (14cm) in size. Blackpoll Warblers are dichromatic which means that males and females do not look alike. Male Blackpolls have a black cap and white cheeks with a white face, white underparts with black streaks on sides and back. They have two white wings bars and white spots that are visible under their tail. Female Blackpolls look similar in body plumage to males, but lack the distinctive head pattern.



Photo: M. Noonan


Blackpoll Warblers are found across northern Canada in boreal black spruce forests during the breeding season. In western Canada they are found primarily in spruce-alder thickets along river environments. During the winter season Blackpolls can be found in northern South America east of the Andes. There, they primarily occupy second-growth areas. Blackpoll Warblers are known for their long-distance migrations with a round-trip of 2,500 miles most of which occurs without stop over the ocean during fall migration.  They are migrants in the Western New York region and can be seen in the fall and spring. Blackpoll Warblers eat mostly insects and arthropods. They will eat some fruit material during their fall migration. They  forage from branches and pick insects and fruit off leaves and bark.




Blackpoll Warblers have a prolonged courtship for most Warblers where the male will feed the female nuptial gifts to show he is able to find food for their future brood. They have a monogamous mating system, though can be occasionally polygynous which means that sometimes the male has more than one female partner at a time. They usually have one brood per year, but occasionally will have two. Females will build the cup nest against the trunk supported by horizontal branches. The female lays 4-5 eggs and incubates them for about 12 days. The exact incubation period is not known for this species. The young are altricial which means they are immobile, blind and helpless. Both parents will tend young until the young are ready to leave the nest which is 11-12 days after hatching.




Good places to see Blackpoll Warblers are Forest Lawn and Tifft Nature Preserve where these birds will stop during the migratory season before continuing up to Canada. You may also see these birds in Iroquois NWR while they are getting ready to fly across Lake Ontario.


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.