Blackburnian Warbler

Setophaga fusca
Blackburnian Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 inches) wood warbler, the male Blackburnian Warbler is most easily identified by its black back, streaked flanks, and bright orange face patches. Female Blackburnian Warblers are grayish-brown on the back and yellow on the face, resembling faded males. Both sexes of the related American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) are similarly dark with yellow and orange patches, but whereas the Blackburnian Warbler has bright areas on its face, the bright areas present on the plumage of that species are concentrated on the wings and tail. The Blackburnian Warbler breeds across southern Canada and the northeastern United States. This species is also present at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as northern Georgia. In winter, Yellow-throated Warblers may be found from Costa Rica south to Peru. Blackburnian Warblers breed in a variety of dense woodland habitats, particularly those largely composed of evergreen trees. In winter, this species may be found in humid tropical forests. Blackburnian Warblers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, but may also eat a small amount of plant material, mainly fruits and berries, during the winter. In appropriate habitat, Blackburnian Warblers may be observed flitting through high branches in tall trees while foraging for insects. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a whistled “zip zip zip titi tseeeeee.” Blackburnian Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species undertakes part of its migration at night.

DC Information

Fairly common migrant, late April to late May and mid-August to late September. Found chiefly in low second-growth woods. The orange on the head and throat of the male is yellow in the female.

Specimen Information

The bird on the left is a female.
Date:  5/11/1889
Collected By:  John R Massie /Greene Smith
Locality:  Laurel, MD
Sex:  Female adult
Catalog ID:  175722
The male is on the right.
Date:  5/12/1892
Collected By:  EM Hasbrouck
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex:  Male adult
Catalog ID:  162188

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC65919 Dendroica fusca (Blackburnian Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC43470 Dendroica fusca (Blackburnian Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53619 Dendroica fusca (Blackburnian Warbler)