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Virginia's Warbler

Vermivora virginiae

Length: 4.75 inches Wingspan: 7.5 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Yellow chest, gray overall (darker on top, lighter on bottom), yellow undertail coverts

Virginia Warbler - Vermivora virginiaeVirginia's Warbler is a bird of dry, brushy canyons of the western U.S.  Virginia's Warbler was unknown in South Dakota until 1997, when many dozens of breeding pairs were found in extreme western Custer County (SDOU -- "Birds of South Dakota" -- 2002).  They can be difficult to observe even in known breeding locations, given the density of vegetation they prefer to nest in.

Habitat: Prefers low, dry, brushy habitats of the western U.S., including oak canyons, pinyon-juniper woods, and scrub oak.

Diet: Diet not known in detail, but nearly exclusively eats insects as with most warblers.

Behavior: Will feed from the ground up into the canopy, although usually stays low in trees and shrubs and close to the ground.  They glean insects from foliage and branches, or hunt for insects along the ground.  Virginia's Warblers will also occasionally fly out from a perch to capture flying insects in mid-air.

Nesting: Late May through July

Breeding Map: Breeds in southwestern South Dakota, but Breeding Bird Survey map unavailable. 

Song: Weak, poorly defined warbling, often consisting of two to three distinct parts.

Migration:  Summers throughout much of the inland western U.S.  Neotropical migrant, wintering in Central and South America.

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

Similar Species: Similar to Lucy's Warbler and the Colima Warbler, neither of which is normally found near South Dakota.

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range, with some evidence of range expansion, especially in California.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Virginia's Warbler

2) - Virginia's Warbler

Photo Information: May 24th, 2003 -- Flag Hill Spring, Custer County -- Doug Backlund


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Virginia's Warbler - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon and local summer breeding resident in western Custer County.

Additional Virginia's Warbler Photos (coming soon!)