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

Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea

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.

Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea

The bay-breasted warbler (Setophaga castanea) is a New World warbler. It breeds in northern North America, specifically in Canada, into the Great Lakes region, and into northern New England.

This species is migratory migratory, wintering in northwest South America and southern Central America. It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.

This species is closely related to blackpoll warbler, but this species has a more southerly breeding range and a more northerly wintering area.

The summer male bay-breasted warbler is unmistakable. It has a grey back, black face, and chestnut crown, flank and throat. It also boasts bright yellow neck patches, and white underparts and two white wing bars.

Breeding females essentially resemble washed out versions of the male. The females are greyish above and white below, with much weaker head patterns. The females also only have chestnut markings on small flank patches, although tiny tints in their grey crowns have been observed.

Non-breeding birds have greenish heads, greenish upperparts and yellowish breasts. The yellow extends to the belly of young birds. The two white wing bars are always present in every stage of life. These birds differ from non-breeding blackpoll warblers in the absence of breast streaks.

Their breeding habitats are coniferous woodlands. Bay-breasted warblers nest 5–20 ft (1.5–6.1 m) up in conifer trees, laying 3–5 eggs in a cup-shaped nest. Incubation is 12 days. More eggs are laid in years when high numbers of spruce budworm are present.

These birds feed on insects, and the numbers of these birds vary with the abundance of the spruce budworm. These birds will also feed on berries and nectar in wintertime.

Their songs are a repetitive high-pitched si si si.

On to my photos:

These images were shot in the spring of 2018.

Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea


This is number 209 in my photo life list, only 141 to go!

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



7 responses

  1. Pingback: Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea — Quiet Solo Pursuits |

  2. Loved the way you framed your shots in the branches.


    December 30, 2018 at 11:22 am

    • Thank you Susan! I had little to do with the framing of those shots, it was where he decided to perch.


      December 30, 2018 at 3:00 pm

  3. Such an unusual looking little bird with different coloured and patterned feathers. Hope you see one again in 2019!


    December 29, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    • Thanks Marianne! I hope to see another one also, in better light this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      December 30, 2018 at 3:01 pm

  4. Such an attractive little warbler, Jerry. Congratulations!


    December 29, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    • Thank you Clare! I wish that the photos that I shot would have done justice to how colorful they really are.

      Liked by 1 person

      December 29, 2018 at 3:03 pm