Blackpoll Warbler

Setophaga striata
Blackpoll Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 inches) wood warbler, the male Blackpoll Warbler in summer is most easily identified by its gray body, streaked back and flanks, and black head with prominent white cheek patches. Female Blackpoll Warblers are dull gray overall with faint white eye-stripes. In fall and winter, both sexes become dull green-gray on the back and pale tan below. The Blackpoll Warbler primarily breeds across Alaska and north-central Canada. Smaller numbers breed in southeastern Canada, and isolated breeding populations exist in the mountains of New England and New York. The Blackpoll Warbler is a long-distance migrant, wintering in northern South America. Blackpoll Warblers breed in northern and high-mountain evergreen forests, particularly in areas where Black Spruce (Picea mariana) occurs. In winter, this species may be found primarily in humid tropical forests. Blackpoll Warblers mainly eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, although this species may eat fruits or berries while on migration. In appropriate habitat, Blackpoll Warblers may be observed foraging for food located on leaves, needles, and branches in the forest canopy. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a high “zi” note repeated several times in quick succession. Blackpoll Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Abundant migrant from early May to mid-June, and from mid-September to mid-October. Found in deciduous and coniferous forests, mostly in stands of pine. Females have a brown head, males black.

Specimen Information

Two  males (right and left) in breeding plumage flank two females in the center.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC66057 Dendroica striata (Blackpoll Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC51862 Dendroica striata (Blackpoll Warbler)