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Blackburnian Warbler - BirdForum Opus

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Adult Male, Breeding Plumage
Photo © by Charlie M
Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, Canada, 18 May 2005

Setophaga fusca
Dendroica fusca


Adult Female Breeding Plumage
Photo © by quality67
Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 24 August 2007

L. 13 cm (5"); W. 9-10 g

  • Back boldly striped

Breeding male:

  • Black and white
  • Vivid orange throat, crown patch, and eyebrow continuing down behind black auriculars
  • Large white wing patch
  • Orange-yellowish on breast and flanks

Female and Immature Male: Similar to male, but has yellow throat, 2 wingbars instead of wingpatch, and lighter auriculars.

Autumn plumage identifiers are the 2 white wing bars and yellowish tinge to patch on front of crown, supercilium, sides of neck, throat (surrounding the auriculars), breast and upper flanks.

Similar Species

In Costa Rica, Flame-throated Warbler is the only other wood warbler with an orange throat but has no white on the back or in the wings.


Breeds from Saskatchewan east to Nova Scotia, south to Great Lakes, southern New England, and in the Appalachians to northern Georgia. Widespread in east and midwest in migration.
Winters in the tropics from Costa Rica south to Peru and Bolivia.
Rare but regular vagrant to the western United States.
Accidental vagrant to Greenland (2 records), Iceland (1 record), and Great Britain (2 records).

First winter female
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Reserva Las Gralaras, Pichincha Province, Mindo, Ecuador, November 2014


This is a monotypic species[1].
Formerly placed in genus Dendroica.


Most numerous in mixed forests of hemlock (Tsuga), spruce (Picea), and various hardwoods, usually ranging high in trees; in winter in cloud forests and humid tropical montane forests. In migration found in nearly any type of woods.


They usually spend their time gleaning in the upper canopy.


Their diet during the breeding season consists almost entirely of insects and smaller invertebrates, particularly spiders, beetles and caterpillars. During the winter they add fruit and berries to their fare.


The clutch consists of 4 brown-spotted white eggs which are laid in a twig nest lined with lichens, mosses, and hair, usually placed high in a large conifer.


Song: is thin and wiry and increases in speed, becoming almost inaudible to humans, sleet-sleet-sleet-sleet-sleetee-sleeeee. Also tiddly-tiddly-tiddly-tiddly at same speed and pitch.
Call: chip


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) Avibase. Retrieved 25 November 2020
  3. Morse, D. H. (2020). Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bkbwar.01

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