Photo Credit: Dave Cagnolatti & Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Dendroica pinus
OTHER NAMES: Red Wing
DESCRIPTION: The pine warbler (Dendroicas pinus) belongs to the family of birds (Parulidae) that include ovenbirds, thrushes, chats, and 35 other warbler species. This family has been described as containing the “butterflies of the bird world” due to the bright coloration, small size and thin bills common to bird species in this family. Size of adult pine warblers ranges from 5 – 5 ½ inches. Adult males are olive green above with two white wing bars; under parts are lemon yellow with the brightest coloration on the throat and dimly streaked breasts. Females appear as a dull colored male and are described as “very non-descript” in comparison to males; yellow coloration on the breast is much duller in females. Immature birds and autumn females are described as very obscure; grayish or brownish above with two white wing bars; under parts dull whitish with a dull buff colored wash across the breast.
Species similar in appearance include the yellow-throated vireo, bay-breasted warbler, and black poll warbler.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds from New Brunswick, southern Quebec, northern Manitoba, and northern Michigan to southern Florida and Gulf States; winters from southern United States to southern Illinois and Virginia (occasionally to New England near the coast).
HABITAT: Breeds in open pine woods but will inhabit any trees or shrubs during migration. The pine warbler is a particular species of interest in many longleaf pine ecosystem restoration efforts.
FEEDING HABITS: Has been described as “rather tame”; often found creeping along branches much like a brown creeper. Will occasionally feed on the ground; primarily feeds upon insects in the air.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: An early spring and late fall migrant, the pine warbler is often found with palm warblers. Nests from 10-50 feet in pine trees; nests constructed of bark strips and pine needles. Clutch size is typically 4 whitish eggs with bold lilac and purple markings.
Harper and Row’s Complete Guide to North American Wildlife – Eastern Edition. 1981. Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. New York, NY. 714 pp
A Field Guide to the Birds – Eastern Land and Water Birds. 1934. Roger Tory Peterson Ed. Houton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. 230 pp
AUTHOR: Bill Gray, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, February, 2008