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

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

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.

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

The Blackburnian Warbler is a small New World warbler. They breed in eastern North America, from southern Canada, westwards to the southern Canadian Prairies, the Great Lakes region and New England, to North Carolina.  These birds were named after Anna Blackburne, an English botanist.

Blackburnian Warblers are around 11 to 13 cm (4.3 to 5.1 in) long, with a 20 to 22 cm (7.9 to 8.7 in) wingspan, and weigh 8 to 13 g (0.28 to 0.46 oz). The average mass of an adult bird is 9.7 g (0.34 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.3 to 7.3 cm (2.5 to 2.9 in), the tail is 4.2 to 5 cm (1.7 to 2.0 in), the bill is 0.9 to 1 cm (0.35 to 0.39 in) and the tarsus is 1.6 to 1.8 cm (0.63 to 0.71 in).

In summer, male Blackburnian Warblers display dark gray backs and double white wing bars, with yellowish rumps and dark brown crowns. The underparts of these birds are white, and are tinged with yellow and streaked black. The head is strongly patterned in yellow and black, with a flaming-orange throat. It is the only North American warbler with this striking plumage. Other plumages, including the fall male and adult female, are washed-out versions of the summer male, and in particular lack the bright colors and strong head pattern. Basic plumages show weaker yellows and gray in place of black in the breeding male.

Blackburnian Warblers’ songs are a simple series of high swi notes, which often ascend in pitch. Their call is a high sip.

Blackburnian Warblers are solitary during winter and highly territorial on their breeding grounds and do not mix with other passerine species outside of the migratory period. However, during migration, they often join local mixed foraging flocks of species such as chickadees, kinglets and nuthatches. These birds are basically insectivorous, but will include berries in their diets in wintertime. They usually forage by searching for insects or spiders in treetops. The breeding habitats of these birds are mature coniferous woodlands or mixed woodlands, especially ones containing spruce and hemlocks. It typically winters in tropical montane forests.

Blackburnian Warblers build a nest consisting of an open cup of twigs, bark, plant fibers, and rootlets held to branch with spider web and lined with lichens, moss, hair, and dead pine needles that’s placed near the end of a branch. Three to five whitish eggs are laid its nest which is usually placed 2–38 m (6.6–124.7 ft) above the ground, on a horizontal branch.

On to my photos:

 

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

Blackburnian Warbler, Setophaga fusca

 

This is number 161 in my photo life list, only 189 to go!

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

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12 responses

  1. What a beautiful and unusual looking bird! Marvelous catch.

    June 18, 2014 at 1:56 am

    • Thanks, they have become one of my favorites.

      June 18, 2014 at 2:51 am

  2. What a lovely bird, thanks for the photos.

    June 18, 2014 at 3:34 am

    • Thanks Susan!

      June 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

  3. What beautiful photos of these amazing birds. The Blackburnian is top on my ‘want to see’ list!!! I didn’t see any during this spring’s migration, so I’ll be heading out to the Appalachian highlands in a few weeks, where they breed, to see if I can find one!! Any tips on where you typically find them – any particular kind of cover, high or low, etc?

    June 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

    • Thanks Judy! I’m hardly an expert on this species, I’ve only seen them a few times during spring migration. But, my general rule of thumb when looking for warblers is to look near water, and watch the treetops. Warblers eat insects, and there are more insects near water, so it makes sense to start there. Every time I’ve seen a blackburnian warbler, it has been foraging in the leaf canopy. Good luck!

      June 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

  4. This one looks like he was doing all he could to avoid having his picture taken. The nest sounds really interesting, like something I’d like to see.

    June 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

    • Thanks Allen, most birds avoid having their photo taken, I’ve thought of doing a post with the title “That last half step” about the number of times that birds have flown off as I stick my camera around an obstruction to get a clear photo of a bird. As long as there’s one twig, one leaf, one blade of grass, one what ever, between a bird and myself, they seem to think they are hidden. But when I have a clear view of them, they’re gone.

      June 18, 2014 at 10:48 am

  5. Don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these handsome devils. Thanks, as always.

    June 18, 2014 at 6:37 am

    • Thanks Judy!

      June 18, 2014 at 10:45 am

  6. Beautiful colouring – a lovely looking bird

    June 18, 2014 at 11:25 am

    • Thanks Clare!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm