Mourning Warbler

Geothlypis philadelphia
A Mourning Warbler specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5-5 ¾ inches) wood warbler, the male Mourning Warbler is most easily identified by its olive-green back, yellow belly, gray head, and black upper breast patch. Female Mourning Warblers are similar to males, but are somewhat duller and lack the black on the breast. This species is most easily confused with the Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis), which may be distinguished by its white eye-ring and gray upper breast in both sexes. The Mourning Warbler breeds across a wide portion of southern Canada and the northeastern United States. Isolated breeding populations occur further south at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. The Mourning Warbler is a long-distance migrant, wintering from Central America to northern South America. Mourning Warblers breed in open portions of mixed deciduous and evergreen northern forests, including clearings, forest edges, and portions of forest recently disturbed by logging or forest fires. In winter, this species inhabits wet thickets and undergrowth along the edges of open tropical forests. Mourning Warblers primarily eat insects in summer, but add fruits and berries to their diets during the winter. Due to this species’ preference for habitats with large amounts of undergrowth, Mourning Warblers are often more easily heard than seen. Birdwatchers may listen for this species’ “chirry, chirry, chorry, chorry” song, or may attempt to observe it foraging for insects deep in the undergrowth. Mourning Warblers are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Rare migrant in late May and in August and September. Found in wood margins and cut-over forests. The male has the throat gray darkening to black on the breast; the female is paler with no black on the breast.

Specimen Information

The bird on exhibit and in the photo is a male.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53902 Oporornis philadelphia (Mourning Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53903 Oporornis philadelphia (Mourning Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16974 Oporornis philadelphia (Mourning Warbler)