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August 10, 2013

Miracles of Migration VIII The Black and White Warbler

Filed under: Uncategorized — shyamala @ 7:15 pm

Miracles of Migration Series  VIII :


The Black and White Warbler                                    by                                   Shyamala Rao


The Black and White Warbler, with striking geometrical patterns is a little song bird with slender stripes of alternating black and white. This 5 inch long bird is usually seen close to a tree trunk creeping up or down the trunk, earnestly looking into each crevice seeking insects. The Black and white warbler is definitely easier for bird watchers to observe.  This is in sharp contrast to most of the other warblers which zip around like hyperactive kids, staying really high up in the canopy giving every birder a sore “warbler neck!”


The Black and white warbler is the only bird in its genus and is considered a New World Warbler. The adult bird is 5 inches in length and has black and white stripes in the head and back. There are 2 white wing bars. The belly is white with black streaks. The adult bird weighs about ½ to ¾ ounce. The birds creep up and down tree trunks and limbs looking for insects. They consume spiders, beetles and larval insects.

The Black and White Warblers are found all across the North and North Eastern part of the continent. Their habitat extends all the way south to eastern half of Texas and to the northern part of Florida. They arrive in these regions in April and May and choose woodland areas preferably somewhat wet areas to build their nests. Black and white Warblers build their nests on the ground in cup like nests made of leaves, grass and pine needles. The birds line the nest with soft fine grass and bits of fur. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs and incubates for 2 weeks. When the chicks are hatched both parents feed the chicks for 2 to 4 weeks until the chicks fledge.

The birds grow fast, eat insects in huge quantities. The juveniles grow strong and by September the Black and White Warblers are ready to begin the process of Migration. These birds are usually night fliers and during the day they stop, rest and eat build up strength. They start on the next leg of the long journey of Migration. Black and White Warblers spend the winter months in the lower coastal strip of the Gulf Coast but more often they go much further south. Their winter residing grounds extend from Mexico all the way down Central America into North Eastern part of South America.

The Black and White Warblers spend the winter in the wet woodlands of Central and South America. They build up good reserves of fat in their wintering grounds. This comes in handy in the spring when the long journey back to the breeding areas has to be undertaken. In the Hill Country area we are lucky to see the Black and White Warblers during migration and sometimes we see some of them settle down and use this area as a breeding area.


1 Comment »

  1. I have seen only one of these beautiful little birds in contrasting black and white! It was back in May at the South Llano River State Park in one of the four bird blinds. It made 4 or 5 appearance, both alone and with another bird at the water hole. I had heard one at Balcones Canyonlands several years ago but was not able to focus in on it. Again, you have done a beautiful job on this article!

    Comment by Jim Baines — October 6, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

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