Mourning Warbler – Profile | Facts | Song | Traits | Habitat

Mourning Warbler

The “mourning” on Mourning Warbler bird’s name refers back to the male’s hood, thought to resemble a mourning veil.

Mourning Warbler profile

Mourning Warbler is the eastern counterpart of MacGillivray’s Warbler. The two look virtually equivalent and the songs are additionally very comparable. Both have olive backs, grey hoods (the decrease edge is black within the adult male), and the rest of the underparts vibrant yellow.

The mourning warbler, scientific name Geothlypis philadelphia is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Mourning warblers are native to eastern and central North America in addition to some international locations in Central America. They are neotropical migrants and are typically present in dense second-growth forests.

They are below the Wood-warbler class, which consists of arboreal and terrestrial colorful passerines. Wood warblers are within the order Passeriformes, which are perching birds together with more than half of all bird species, and the family Parulidae which additionally consists of the Common Yellowthroat, Black and White Warbler, Nashville Warbler, ovenbird, and American Redstart.

They are similar to the MacGillivray’s Warbler in look, particularly in females and immature birds, however, their breeding range doesn’t overlap into the west.

The predominant distinction is MacGillivray’s white crescents above and under the attention, present in all plumages.

Mourning has a lot weaker damaged eye-ring in some plumages, however, that is absent in most adult males.

Separating these two species within the discipline, particularly in fall, is a dangerous train. Even consultants often can not agree.

For this motive state bird information committees within the West reject more studies of Mourning Warbler than they settle for.

Mourning Warbler Overview

Clad in olive, grey, and yellow, with a jewel-like black chest patch in breeding males, Mourning Warblers are vibrant however hard-to-see birds of brushy areas.

Among probably the most famed skulkers of the warbler family, they’re widespread however seldom seen, significantly throughout migration and winter, when they’re quiet.

Mourning Warblers breed in dense thickets of northern North America, usually in areas created by fires, storms, or logging operations. Males sing a brief, burry song.

Often elusive and laborious to see effectively, the Mourning Warbler sings a repetitious chant from thickets and raspberry tangles within the north woods.

This bird lives close to the ground in any respect seasons, foraging in low brush and within the forest understory even throughout migration; it tends to be solitary, not readily becoming a member of flocks of different warblers.

It received its name as a result of the intensive black throat patch of the male advised to pioneer naturalists that the bird was wearing mourning.


Mourning Warbler nests throughout the boreal forest belt of Canada from southeast Yukon to Labrador, south to the Great Lakes states and New England, and down the Appalachians to West Virginia; winters from Nicaragua to Ecuador; and migrates by way of Mexico fairly than overflying the Gulf.

Mourning Warbler Description

Mourning warblers are small songbirds with yellow underparts, olive-green upperparts, a skinny pointed bill, and pink legs. Adult males have a grey hood, black lores, and a black patch on the throat and breast.

In the autumn, this pattern turns into much less vibrant and more durable to differentiate from comparable species; nonetheless, they by no means have a damaged eye-ring. Females and immatures are gray-brown on the top with an incomplete eye-ring.

They have a yellow-gray throat with a brown or olive tint to their breast. Both sexes can range from 10–15 cm (3.9-5.9 in) in size and 11-13 g (0.4-0.5 oz) in weight. Their wingspan is 18 cm (7.1 in).

Other than the MacGillivray’s Warbler, comparable species embrace the Connecticut warblers which have a whole eye-ring, to not be confused with a damaged eye-ring seen on immature Mourning warblers.

Immature Connecticut warblers even have a whiter chest in comparison with the yellow chest on immature Mourning warblers.

Nashville warblers are additionally generally confused; nonetheless, they have a yellow throat in contrast to the black or gray throats of Mourning warblers, females have a gray back, and they’re smaller and fewer energetic than Mourning warblers.

Mourning Warbler Distribution and habitat

Mourning warblers have breeding grounds in southern Canada and are generally seen throughout migration within the central and eastern United States, Belize, Bonaire, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama, and different Central American Islands.

These birds migrate to Central America and northern South America.

Mourning warblers are low or ground nesters, and like disturbed forests with a thick under-story and coated cover. In the winter they like moist lowland habitat with dense vegetation.

Nests in dense shrubby second-growth of berry-bearing vegetation in the boreal forest and Appalachian highlands. Winters in the undergrowth of lowland and highland tropical forest gaps and edges in Central and South America.

Clearings, thickets, slashings, undergrowth. Breeds in brushy northern habitats, together with dense shrubbery in old deciduous woods clearings, brushy cut-over lands, lowland thickets of raspberry and blackberry tangles, or lavatory and marsh edges; usually in momentary habitats, rising up after fires or clear-cuts. In winter within the tropics, lives in low, dense thickets and overgrown fields in lowlands and foothills.

mourning warbler mourning warbler song female mourning warbler mourning warbler female


Forages low in shrubby vegetation, strolling alongside branches or hopping on the ground to glean bugs and larvae, and to eat fruit.

Males sing whereas perched pretty low in undergrowth or saplings and make speedy, skylarking song flights towards night. Migrants and wintering birds often stay hidden in dense foliage


A small however sturdy songbird with a reasonably full body and thick neck. The bill is skinny and straight, smaller than the bill of the similar-looking Connecticut Warbler. It has a reasonably long tail and robust legs.


The song of this bird is a vibrant repetitive warble. The warble consists of rolling phrases that sound that sometimes decrease in quantity on the end and might sound like “chirry, chirry, chirry, chorry, chorry.”

The call is a pointy chip. There are often two completely different pitched calls, with one higher than the tough chip.

Mourning Warbler Color

Adult males are olive above, yellow under, with a grey hood and black chest patch. Adult females are more muted in colors and lack the chest patch.

Immatures are brownish above, yellow under, together with the middle of the throat. Both sexes often lack an eyering, though some adult males present skinny white eye arcs (recalling the bolder marks of MacGillivray’s Warbler).

Mourning Warbler Diet

Probably principally bugs. Details of the diet are poorly recognized, however has been seen foraging for caterpillars, beetles, and different bugs; additionally eats spiders. In winter within the tropics, generally feeds on the protein of our bodies from the leaf-bases of younger cecropia timber.

Mourning warblers forage low in vegetation, generally catching bugs in flight. These birds primarily eat bugs, additionally some plant materials together with fruiting our bodies from the Cecropia tree in winter.

Their diet is just not effectively documented but additionally consists of insect larvae and spiders that they choose from the branches of shrubs. They are additionally recognized to take away the legs and wings of the bugs before consuming.

Feeding Behavior

During the breeding season, forages primarily in shrubs inside just a few feet of the ground; hops whereas feeding on the ground. Sometimes makes brief flights catch flying bugs. Generally feeds alone fairly than becoming a member of flocks.


3-4, generally 5. Creamy white with brown spots or blotches. Incubated by feminine solely, about 12 days. The male feeds feminine on the nest throughout incubation.

Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young go away the nest after 7-9 days. Care of fledglings could proceed for an additional 4 weeks or more.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young go away the nest after 7-9 days. Care of fledglings could proceed for an additional four weeks or more.

Mourning Warbler Nesting

Details of the breeding behavior aren’t well-known. Male sings to defend nesting territory; throughout territorial boundary encounters with rival males, he could bob violently, flip wings outward, and fan his tail.

Nest: Usually positioned on the ground next to shrub at the base of weeds in raspberry or blackberry briars, or amongst fern, goldenrod, or grass tussocks.

Also generally in a bush inside a few feet of the ground. Nest (most likely constructed by each sex) is an open, cumbersome cup product of leaves, with a core of weeds and coarse grasses, lined with wonderful grass and hair.

Mourning Warbler Breeding

Mourning warblers breed in southern Canada. Their breeding habitat is thickets and semi-open areas with dense shrubs throughout Canada east of the Rockies and the northeastern United States.

The nest is an open cup positioned on the ground in a well-concealed location below thick shrubs or different vegetation. Their nest is often made out of grass, leaves, and bark and lined with roots or different skinny materials.

Mourning warblers sometimes lay 2-5 eggs, that are white or speckled brown and black in look. Incubation is 12 days long and each adult men and women make the most of a distraction strategy of pretending to have damaged wings to distract predators from their nest.

Mourning warblers have younger with grey tufts on their head and red mouths. Adult females are additionally recognized to eat their eggs after their younger hatch. The variety of days for younger to fledge is 7–9.

mourning warbler mourning warbler song female mourning warbler mourning warbler female

Mourning Warbler Facts

Mourning Warbler is usually known as a “fugitive” species as a result of people generally have to look out new breeding habitat as its most popular early-successional habitat begins to mature, after about 7–10 years.

Other North American species that wander seeking burned or disturbed habitats embrace American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Western Wood-Pewee, and Western Bluebird.

Mourning Warbler and the carefully associated MacGillivray’s Warbler might be troublesome to differentiate visually, and the 2 species usually hybridize the place their ranges meet. In the zones of hybridization, songs are sometimes intermediate between typical songs for every species.

Until 2011, Mourning Warbler was positioned within the genus Oporornis together with MacGillivray’s, Kentucky, and Connecticut Warblers.

However, the biochemical analysis demonstrated that Mourning, MacGillivray’s, and Kentucky are far more carefully associated with yellowthroats than to Connecticut Warbler, and so scientists moved these three to genus Geothlypis, leaving Connecticut because the world’s sole Oporornis.

Both female and male Mourning Warblers could fake to have damaged wings to distract predators near their nest.

The oldest recorded Mourning Warbler was a male, and at the least 7 years, 1 month old when he was recaptured and rereleased throughout banding operations in Alberta, Canada.

Where to seek out Mourning Warbler

Go in search of Mourning Warblers in late spring and early summer, when males sing loudly within the early morning. Listen for them in areas with dense, shrubby vegetation and few timbers.

Even whereas singing these birds usually stay hid—you could possibly coax one into view by making “pishing” sounds.

Look for migrants additionally in dense habitats; they could sing throughout spring migration however are sometimes quiet, making them laborious to find.

The Mourning Warbler is among the many newest of all spring migrants, and a few arrive in nesting areas as late as early June.


According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, Mourning Warbler populations have declined by about 43% within the final 50 years.

However, they’re nonetheless categorized as a species of least concern with 17 million estimated as a worldwide breeding population by Partners in Flight.

As they have got a choice for disturbed forests, they could be benefitting from the human improvement that could be negatively affecting the habitats of different bird species.

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