Worm-eating Warbler

Helmitheros vermivorum
Worm-eating Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5-5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the Worm-eating Warbler is most easily identified by its dull olive back, dull yellow underparts, and conspicuous black head stripes. In some respects, this species resembles the Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis), which may be distinguished by its darker brown back, brown head stripes, and streaked breast. Male and female Worm-eating Warblers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Worm-eating Warbler breeds in the eastern United States from Massachusetts south to Louisiana and west to Missouri. Although its breeding range covers a wide area, this species breeds only locally within this range where appropriate habitat exists. In winter, Worm-eating Warblers migrate south to southern Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Worm-eating Warblers breed in large areas of unbroken deciduous forest with extensive shrubby undergrowth. In winter, this species primarily inhabits humid tropical forests. Ironically, Worm-eating Warblers rarely eat worms, preferring to eat caterpillars and other small insects. In appropriate habitat, Worm-eating Warblers are most easily observed while foraging for food. This species hops through vegetation close to the forest floor, jumping down to catch prey hidden in dead leaves on the ground. Worm-eating Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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