Palm Warbler

Setophaga palmarum
Palm Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (4 ½ -5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the Palm Warbler in summer is most easily identified by its dark brown back, streaked flanks, and conspicuous rusty crown. Two subspecies exist: an eastern subspecies, which has predominantly yellow underparts; and a western subspecies, which has some white on the breast and yellow elsewhere. Male and female Palm Warblers are similar in all seasons, becoming duller and browner in winter. The Palm Warbler primarily breeds across east-central Canada. Smaller numbers breed south of the United States border in the Upper Midwest and in Maine. In winter, the western subspecies of the Palm Warbler migrates to the U.S. Pacific coast, the coastal southeast, the West Indies, southern Mexico, and Central America, while the eastern subspecies winters along the Gulf Coast from Florida west to Texas. Palm Warblers breed in a variety of dense evergreen habitats, and is particularly attracted to bogs. In winter, this species may be found in semi-open habitats, such as thickets, roadsides, and mangroves. Palm Warblers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, although this species may eat some plant material, particularly fruits and berries, during the winter. In appropriate habitat, Palm Warblers may be observed foraging for insects on the ground or in low branches of shrubs and trees. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a high “zhe” note repeated several times in succession. Palm Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Common migrant, early April to mid-May and early September to early November. Usually seen in wood margins, roadsides, and brushy areas. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

These are likely the records for the bird on the left and the right respectively.
Date:  5/8/1890
Collected By:  EA Mearns
Locality:  Fort Snelling, MN
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  235821
Date:  4/10/1894
Collected By:  Wm Palmer
Locality:  Rosslyn, Alexandria Co, VA
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  236339

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17029 Dendroica palmarum (Palm Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17030 Dendroica palmarum (Palm Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17031 Dendroica palmarum (Palm Warbler)