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Black-throated Blue Warbler

Setophaga caerulescens

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 7.25 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Male has blue upperparts, a black throat, face and sides, and white underparts with a white wing spot.  Females plainer, but also with white wing spot.

Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescensThe Black-throated Blue Warbler is a common migrant in the eastern United States, but is normally only a rare stray west of the Mississippi.  The males are striking and distinctive, with dark bluish upperparts, a black face and throat, and white underparts.  Females are much plainer, with a olive-gray body.  They are often more easily observed than many warblers due to their tame nature, although their preferred habitats often are dense thickets.

Habitat: Uses large tracts of deciduous and deciduous/conifer mixed forests for breeding, especially if there is a dense shrubby undergrowth.  During migration, they also are most often found in forested and brushy locations.  In the winter, they are found in dense tropical forests as well as more open areas such as fence rows and suburban areas.

Diet: In summer, primarily feeds on insects and spiders.  In winter, insects still make up a large portion of the diet, but they also will feed on fruits, berries, seeds, and nectar.

Behavior: Forages deliberately in the canopy, taking insects from the surfaces of leaves and branches, hovering and gleaning insects from vegetation, or occasionally flitting out to capture insects in mid-air.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive map of Black-throated Blue Warbler sightings

Song: The song is a buzzy, hoarse zhurr-zhurr-zhurr-zhree, with the last note higher.  The call note is a soft tsip.  Click here to listen to the Black-throated Blue Warbler's songCick here to listen to the Black-throated Blue Warbler's call.

Migration: Summers in the Appalachians, New England, the Great Lakes region, and southeastern Canada.  Winters in southern Florida and the Caribbean.

Similar Species: Males are generally distinctive, with a possible confusion with the Cerulean Warbler.  Females may be confused with Tennessee Warblers or Orange-crowned Warblers.

Feeders: They will come to feeders for suet and peanut butter in migration.  They also will occasionally feed on nectar offered at hummingbird feeders.

Conservation Status: They require large tracts of forest land for breeding, and have declined in parts of their range due to habitat fragmentation.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification Info Center: Black-throated Blue Warbler

2) WhatBird - Black-throated Blue Warbler

3) Audubon Guide - Black-throated Blue Warbler

Photo Information: Photo taken on May 25th, 2012 near Acadia National park in Maine - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Black-throated Blue Warbler  - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant in the eastern part of the state, casual in the west.

Additional Black-throated Blue Warbler Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos 
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescensBlack-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescensBlack-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescensBlack-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescensBlack-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens