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Lucy's Warbler

Oreothlypis luciae

Length: 4.25 inches Wingspan: 7 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Light gray overall with rusty "cap" upper part of the base of the tail

Lucy's Warbler - Oreothlypis luciaeThe Lucy's Warbler is a rather plain looking but unusual warbler of the deserts of the American Southwest.  They are the only warbler that summers and nests in the Sonoran Desert region.  They are the smallest of the North American Warblers.  The species was named for the daughter of well-known ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird. 

Habitat: Lucy's Warblers are most often found in and around streamside vegetation or in vegetation near usually dry drainage areas such as desert washes.

Diet: Feeds almost entirely on insects.

Behavior: Most foraging is done by clambering through the foliage of desert trees and shrubs, searching for insects. On occasion they will also fly out to capture insects in mid-air.

Nesting: The nest of a Lucy's Warbler is in usually in a tree cavity such as an old woodpecker hole, or in the crevices of loose bark.  The nest is made of fine grasses and weeds, strips of bark, and the leaf stems of mesquite trees.  The female is thought to do the majority of the incubation of the eggs, but both parents forage for food and help to raise the young.

Song: The song of a Lucy's Warbler is a constant trill with period changes in pitch.

Migration: Lucy's Warblers summer in parts of the southwestern U.S. and far northwestern Mexico.  They move a relatively short distance into western Mexico for the winter.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Lucy's Warbler sightings

Similar Species: Unlikely to be mistaken for another warbler species.  Most confusion would likely be with other small plain gray birds, such as Bell's Vireo, or Gnatcatcher species.

Conservation Status: The IUCN currently lists the Lucy's Warbler as a species of "Least Concern".  Populations appear to be relatively stable, although local declines have been noted in areas of habitat loss. 

Further Information: 1) Cornell's All About Birds - Lucy's Warbler

2) Audubon Field Guide - Lucy's Warbler

3) California Partners in Flight - Lucy's Warbler

Photo Information: May 2008 - Near Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Lucy's Warbler - Oreothlypis luciae - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Lucy's Warbler Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Lucy's Warbler - Vermivora luciaeLucy's Warbler - Vermivora luciaeLucy's Warbler - Oreothlypis luciae