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.

DC Information

Fairly common summer resident from early May to late August, uncommon in migration. Nests May to July in deciduous forests and dry floodplains. Sexes alike in plumage.

Specimen Information

The adult is on the left and the juvenile is on the right.
Date:  4/30/1895?
Collected By:  Edward J Brown
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  221090
Date:  6/16/1911
Collected By:  Wm Palmer
Locality:  Langley, Fairfax Co VA
Sex:  Female, Juvenile
Catalog ID:  222474

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC54770 Helmitheros vermivorum (Worm-eating Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC54771 Helmitheros vermivorum (Worm-eating Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC54772 Helmitheros vermivorum (Worm-eating Warbler)