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Mourning Warbler

Geothlypis philadelphia

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8.25 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Olive upperparts, yellow below.  gray hood.  Black upper breast  on male.

Mourning Warbler - Geothlypis philadelphiaNamed after the black patch on the male's upper breast, giving the impression of being dressed in mourning.  The Mourning Warbler is a bird of shrubby areas and forest undergrowth, and is often difficult to spot.  Unlike many migrants, Mourning Warblers avoid flying over the Gulf of Mexico during the spring and fall, instead preferring to migrate overland through Mexico and the interior of the U.S.

Habitat: Prefers shrubby undergrowth and second-growth forest.  Can often be found in forest areas that are regenerating after fire disturbance or clear-cutting.

Diet: Primarily insects, especially caterpillars and beetles.  Also spiders. 

Behavior: Moves through low shrubs and forest undergrowth, gleaning insects and spiders from the foliage.  Will also fly out to capture flying insects in mid-air, and will forage while hopping along the ground.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.

Song: 2-part song, with 2nd part lower than the first part, jirry-jirry, jorry-jorry.

Migration: Summers through southern Canada, the northern Midwest, and the northeastern U.S.   Neotropical migrant, wintering in Central and South America.

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

Similar Species: Connecticut Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler

Conservation Status: Generally stable.  Its preference for second-growth forest makes it less susceptible to habitat loss than many species.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Mourning Warbler

2) WhatBird - Mourning Warbler

3) Audubon Guide - Mourning Warbler

Photo Information: Painting by Louis Agassiz Fuertes - 1910 - Appeared in "Birds of New York" by Elon Howard Eaton - Copyright expired, public domain in the United States.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Mourning Warbler - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant in the eastern part of the state, accidental in the west.

Additional Mourning Warbler Photos (coming soon!)