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Pine Warblers of the Forests

Updated on September 26, 2018
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Since the mid-1980s Yvonne has maintained a registered NWF backyard wildlife habitat where a variety of birds, insects and frogs abound.

Male Pine Warbler perching in a Taiwan cherry tree, waiting for a turn at the suet feeder in late winter.
Male Pine Warbler perching in a Taiwan cherry tree, waiting for a turn at the suet feeder in late winter. | Source

Seed Eating Warbler

The Pine Warbler is a beautiful yellow and olive green bird that inhabits Pine forests all over the United States. In the south, these birds are permanent residents, but in the north, they migrate south in winter. Because they are the only Warbler that eats large amounts of (primarily) Pine seeds, they will visit seed and suet feeders, especially in winter. Come and learn more about the lovely and interesting Pine Warbler.

Pine Warblers

brighten a winter day with their yellow breasts, cheery attitude and their amusing antics.

Pine Warblers are Unique Warblers

Pine Warblers are unique among Warblers. It is the only Warbler that eats large quantities of pine seeds. Like the Brown-headed Nuthatch, its habitat is Pine Forests. It eats many insects and can be seen visiting sunflower seed and suet feeders as well. Meal worms are a special treat.

Northern Pine Warblers migrate to the south to join the resident southern birds here in Louisiana. Sometimes they will form large mixed flocks of 50 or more. They are also the first warbler to return north in the spring and breed the earliest of any warbler in the north. These warblers forage for insects and seeds among the leaves and branches of trees.

Their nest is built high in pine trees and consists of a deep cup of grass, pine needles, twigs, and plant fibers bound together with spider web or caterpillar silk, lined with fine plant parts, hair and feathers. In the south, they start nest building in late February and March.

Pine Warbler Range Map

yellow indicates summer-only range, blue indicates winter-only range, and green indicates  year-round range of the species. They are year-round residents in Covington, LA where we live.
yellow indicates summer-only range, blue indicates winter-only range, and green indicates year-round range of the species. They are year-round residents in Covington, LA where we live. | Source

A male singing loudly from high in the trees. Most of the time you hear them before you see them.

Description and Song

Size: 13-14 cm (5-6 in) Wingspan: 19-23 cm (7-9 in) Weight: 9-15 g (0.32-0.53 ounces) Small songbird but large for a warbler. Yellow throat and chest with dark streaks on the sides.Two white wingbars.White belly and under tail.Olive green upper parts. Plain back with no streaking. Inconspicuous eye crescents. Yellow lores; may give impression of yellow spectacles. Small dark bill, but large for a warbler. Dark legs. White spots on the outer three tail feathers. Occasionally pumps its tail.

Males are more colorful that females. Immature birds look like females, but are duller in color.

Reference: All About Birds

Song

Listen to the song of the Pine Warbler (from the PWRC.USGS).

A Field Guide to Warblers of North America (Peterson Field Guides)
A Field Guide to Warblers of North America (Peterson Field Guides)

You can't go wrong with Peterson field Guides. Warbler identification can be confusing, but this guide helps to clear things up. I use mine a lot during migration when unusual species stop by.

 

Pine Warbler in Cherry

During winter the warblers come down out of the pine trees to search for food.
During winter the warblers come down out of the pine trees to search for food. | Source

Male Pine Warblers brighten up a winter day as the visit the suet and seed feeders. Their favorite type of suet in our habitat is the no-melt peanut butter suet. If you have a problem with raccoons, squirrels or other mammals which devour or carry off the suet, as they do here on Hummingbird Hill, one of the box style wire suet feeders hung under the eaves of the house will usually keep the suet safe from troublesome mammals.

Stokes Select Suet Bird Feeder, One Suet Capacity
Stokes Select Suet Bird Feeder, One Suet Capacity

This is the type of feeder that we use. Hang it under the eaves of a house near a window so you can observe the variety of birds which will visit. This location should keep raccoons, squirrels and opossums from getting to it.

 

Male Pine Warbler

The males are a bright golden color, while the females are a drab yellow-gray.
The males are a bright golden color, while the females are a drab yellow-gray. | Source

Many bird species (including pine warblers, woodpeckers and cardinals) will eat suet from a feeder, especially in winter.

Watch this bird eat meal worms out of this man's hand. What fun!

Warble Out a Note to Us

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    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 

      9 years ago

      What a pretty little bird. I've never seen a Pine Warbler. All the warblers are awesome songsters.

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 

      9 years ago from Upstate, NY

      What a beautiful bright bird!

    • profile image

      rio1 

      9 years ago

      Pine Warblers like to eat suet during the winter. The males are striking.

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