Black & White Warbler

Go To Ground-Nesting Birds 2024 for an Intro to this series & Links to other pages

May 17, 2024

Black-and-white Warbler, near West Pine Island Pond on  May 18, 2023. View short Video 1 & short Video 2 Videos by Joshua Barss Donham

Have you heard a thin, high-pitched rocking sound like a squeaky wheel in the woods lately? The Black-and-white Warblers are back in town! Another ground nesting bird who kindly asks you to keep your feet on the trails for the summer.

These boldly striped warblers, sometimes nicknamed zebra warblers, are back from wintering in northern South America, Central America, and the southeastern US.

These are one of our earliest migrant warblers, typically arriving mid-May. Unlike other wood warblers, Black-and-white Warblers eat insects and spiders they find in the crevices of tree bark, so they don’t mind the lack of leaves on the trees. Black-and-white Warblers are uniquely adapted to these feeding habits, with an extra long rear toe and thicker legs that help them work their way up and down tree trunks and branches like a nuthatch or a creeper.

But they aren’t picky eaters – as the leaves come out, they’ll also feed among the leaves alongside other wood-warblers. If you’re bird-watching later in the season, this habit can make it easier to confuse Black-and-white Warblers with Blackpoll Warblers. the trick? Blackpolls sport a completely black cap, while Black-and-white Warblers have a white stripe on their crown.

In June we’ll be back with more about how Black-and-white warblers meet their mates & raise their families – follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter so you don’t miss out!!

& Remember that it’s easy to help out ground nesting friends by keeping your feet & your dog’s feet on the trails from May – August.

The Bird Team: Joshua Barss Donham. Fulton Lavender, Cathy Smalley, Katie Studholme