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Kentucky Warbler

Geothlypis formosa

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8.25 inches Seasonality: Rare Migrant / Summer
ID Keys: Yellow underparts, olive upperparts, yellow "spectacles" surrounded by black on the crown and below on the face.

Kentucky Warbler - Geothlypis formosa The Kentucky Warbler is primarily found in deciduous forests of the southeastern United States, usually near a water source.  They spend most of their time foraging on the forest floor, where they can be difficult to spot because of their shyness, despite their bright coloring.  While the core of the breeding range is to the south and east of South Dakota, summer specimens have been sighted in the extreme southeastern part of the state, although no confirmed breeding records exist (see SDOU's "Birds of South Dakota"). 

Habitat: During the summer breeding season, prefers deciduous forests near creeks, rivers, and swamps.  Found in lowland forests and second-growth forests in the tropics during the winter.

Diet: Primarily feed on insects and spiders, and occasionally berries.

Behavior: Nearly always forages along the forest floor, moving through the leaf litter, turning over leaves and other debris in search of insects. 

Breeding: Possible breeder in extreme southeastern South Dakota, but no confirmed records exist.

Song: Loud rich churry-churry-churry-churry-churry, consisting of between 5 and 8 notes.  Click here to listen to the Kentucky Warbler's song.  Also, click to listen to the Kentucky Warbler's call.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the Eastern United States south of the Great Lakes and New England.  Winters in southern Mexico, Central America, and extreme northern South America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Kentucky Warbler sightings

Similar Species: Common Yellowthroat

Conservation Status: Has declined in recent decades due to habitat loss.

South Dakota "Hotspot": Most South Dakota sightings of this species have been either at Newton Hills State Park or Union Grove State Park in the extreme southeastern edge of the state.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Kentucky Warbler

2) WhatBird - Kentucky Warbler

3) Audubon Guide - Kentucky Warbler

Photo Information: Photo from Ohio, courtesy of Lana Hays


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Kentucky Warbler - Range map
South Dakota Status: Casual migrant and summer resident in the extreme southeastern corner of the state.  Summer records in suitable habitat suggest possible breeding, but no breeding has been confirmed in South Dakota.

Additional Kentucky Warbler Photos (Coming soon...)