My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica

The Chestnut-sided Warbler is a New World warbler. They breed in eastern North America and in southern Canada westwards to the Canadian Prairies. They also breed in the Great Lakes region and in the eastern USA.

This species is a moderately-sized New World warbler. Despite having very different plumage, it is thought to be closely related to the widespread Yellow Warbler. In total, this species measures from 10 to 14 cm (3.9 to 5.5 in) in length and spans 16 to 21 cm (6.3 to 8.3 in) across the wings. Body weight ranges from 8 to 13.1 g (0.28 to 0.46 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 5.7 to 6.8 cm (2.2 to 2.7 in), the tail is 4.2 to 5.8 cm (1.7 to 2.3 in), the bill is 0.9 to 1 cm (0.35 to 0.39 in) and the tarsus is 1.7 to 1.9 cm (0.67 to 0.75 in).

In the summer, male Chestnut-sided Warblers are unmistakable in appearance. They display dark-streaked gray backs, white faces, black eye stripes and greenish crowns. Their underparts are white, with chestnut flanks, and they also have two white wing bars. The adult females resemble washed-out versions of the summer male, and in particular, the females lack the strong head pattern, and also have little to no chestnut coloring on their flanks.
Non-breeding birds of both sexes have greenish heads, and greenish upper parts which are usually un-streaked. They also have un-streaked pale grey breasts. Their wing bars are always present in their plumages. Their lack of streaking and greenish backs helps to distinguish this species from the larger Blackpoll Warbler in the fall.

The songs are high whistled lines often described as pleased, pleased, pleased to MEECHA. This accented song is used primarily to attract a female and decrease in frequency once nesting is well under way. Males also sing unaccented songs (without the MEECHA at the end) and these are used mostly in territory defense and aggressive encounters with other males. Some males sing only unaccented songs, and they are less successful at securing mates than males that sing both songs. Their calls are harsh chips.

The Chestnut-sided Warbler has benefited from the clearing of mature forests. They make use of the abundant second growth habitats. In the tropics where they winter however, the species occurs mostly in mature tropical rainforests. Their cup-shaped nests are placed in a low bush, which is usually located in young deciduous woodland or scrub. These birds lay 3–5 eggs that are creamy white or greenish with brown speckles in color. The nest is a small cup woven of bark strips, weed stems, grasses, and plant down. The nest is usually placed in a small crotch of a shrub or vertical tangle of vines no more than 2 m (6.6 ft) above the ground.

Chestnut-sided Warblers are primarily insectivorous. They forage actively in shrubs and small trees, and sometimes will attempt to catch insects in mid-air. Most foraging consists of gleaning insects from foliage. They will include berries in their winter diets.

On to my photos:

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

This is number 119 in my photo life list, only 231 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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12 responses

  1. I like his yellow patch. That should make him easier to see.

    August 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    • Thanks, like all warblers, you need fast eyes to keep up with them.

      August 15, 2013 at 2:15 am

  2. Lovely shots. I could use some of them insectivores in my yard! 😉

    August 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    • Thanks, it seems like the birds would locate your yard if there’s food for them.

      August 15, 2013 at 2:15 am

      • We seem to be having an unusual explosion of the mosquito population in quite a few locations. About the only place immune is the beach and then there needs to be a good breeze.

        August 15, 2013 at 2:18 am

  3. Yet another post this week of Chestnut Sided Warbler. It’s just not plain fair !! I would love to see one of these beauties. Your captures are fantastic. Great post.

    August 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    • Thanks! For being such a good sport, I’ll try to talk a few of the warblers into passing by you on their way south. 😉

      August 15, 2013 at 2:21 am

  4. Hey, you changed your theme! 🙂 Beautiful photos. I will have to keep a sharper look out for these warblers!

    August 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

    • Thanks! Like with most warblers, the place to look is in the leaves on the trees. This species likes the leaves of the lower trees growing on the edges of woodlots. That makes them a little easier to spot than the warblers that stick to the tree canopy in the taller trees.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  5. Warblers are *always* a good get! Are they heading south already? I don’t feel like I’ve finished having summer yet!!!

    August 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

    • Thanks. I saw some this weekend that I know are heading south, as are many of the other birds as well. Fall is coming, whether we’re ready for it or not.

      August 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      • I’m ready!!!

        August 19, 2013 at 3:02 am