Prairie Warbler

Setophaga discolor
Prairie Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 inches) wood warbler, the male Prairie Warbler is most easily identified by its olive-green back, yellow breast, and streaked flanks with a conspicuous black eye-stripes. Female Prairie Warblers are similar to males, but are slightly duller on the back and head. Both sexes may be distinguished from the similarly colored Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) and Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) by those species’ plain flanks and lack of eye-stripes. The Prairie Warbler breeds across much of the eastern United States and extreme southern Canada. Within that range, this species is mostly or completely absent from interior New England, the Midwest, the Gulf coast, and higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. In winter, Prairie Warblers may be found in Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, and the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. Prairie Warblers breed in a variety of open habitats, including overgrown fields, grassland, and coastal dunes. In winter, this species may be found in scrubland, mangroves, and open edges of tropical forests. Prairie Warblers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, but may also eat fruits and berries at some times of the year. In appropriate habitat, Hooded Warblers may be observed foraging for insects in the undergrowth. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of “zee” notes rising in pitch at the end. Prairie Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species frequently migrates at night.

DC Information

Common summer resident in scrub pines and overgrown fields, from mid-April to mid-September. Nests in May and june. The female does not have red streaks on the back.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17064 Dendroica discolor (Prairie Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17085 Dendroica discolor (Prairie Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17086 Dendroica discolor (Prairie Warbler)