Male. Note: thin dark eye line, yellow crown, and blue-gray wings.
  • Male. Note: thin dark eye line, yellow crown, and blue-gray wings.

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Blue-winged Warbler

Vermivora pinus
Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. Most are small. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. Passerine birds are divided into two suborders, the suboscines and the oscines. Oscines are capable of more complex song, and are considered the true songbirds. In Washington, the tyrant flycatchers are the only suboscines; the remaining 27 families are oscines.
This large group of small, brightly colored songbirds is a favorite of many birdwatchers. Wood-warblers, usually called “warblers” for short by Americans, are strictly a New World family. Most of the North American members of this group are migratory, returning in the winter to the tropics where the family originated. Warblers that nest in the understory tend to have pink legs and feet, while those that inhabit the treetops usually have black legs and feet. North American males are typically brightly colored, many with patches of yellow. Most North American warblers do not molt into a drab fall/winter plumage; the challenge posed to those trying to identify warblers in the fall results from looking at mostly juvenile birds. Their songs are generally dry, unmusical, often complex whistles (“warbles”). Warblers that live high in the treetops generally have higher-pitched songs than those that live in the understory. Warblers eat insects gleaned from foliage or captured in the air. Many supplement their insect diet with some seeds and fruit, primarily in fall and winter, and some also eat nectar. Most are monogamous. The female usually builds the nest and incubates four to five eggs for up to two weeks. Both members of the pair feed the young.

    General Description

    Distinctive in all plumages, the Blue-winged Warbler is mostly bright yellow with a greenish-tinged back, blue-gray wings with two white wingbars, and a dark line through the eye on an otherwise plain face. It breeds in the Midwest and Northeast, from the Great Lakes south to northern Alabama, and winters on the Atlantic slope of Mexico and in northern Central America. Migration takes place mostly across the Gulf of Mexico; hence the Blue-winged is one of the rarest vagrant “eastern” warblers in the West. Oregon has three records and Idaho one or two; there are none for British Columbia. Washington’s single accepted record occurred at the Anacortes ferry dock (Skagit County) on 17 September 1990.

    Revised August 2007

    North American Range Map

    North America map legend

    Federal Endangered Species ListAudubon/American Bird Conservancy Watch ListState Endangered Species ListAudubon Washington Vulnerable Birds List

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