Blackpoll Warbler

Setophaga striata
Range Map

Similar in appearance to Black-and-White and Black-throated Gray Warblers, the Blackpoll Warbler breeds nearer to the Arctic tundra than any other warbler, while they spend winters in northern South America, from the Caribbean coast to the upper Amazon Basin.

The old genus used for this bird and many of its warbler cousins was a casualty of sweeping renaming done in 2011. Setophaga replaced Dendroica in the scientific literature.

Blackpoll Warblers enjoy similar summer habitats and diets as Cape May, Blackburnian, and Bay-Breasted Warblers. One strategy employed by these birds is how they locate their nests to minimize conflicts. Blackpoll Warblers nest very low (about 5 feet) in the tree, and Bay-Breasted higher (about 16 feet), while Cape May and Blackburnian Warblers nest at 40 to 80 feet.

I met my first Blackpoll Warbler in 2005, while on a 12,000 mile drive (round trip) from Southern California. I didn’t see another one until 2020 on South Padre Island. My trip to south Texas in spring of 2021 rewarded me with even more meetings.

Modern science does not recognise any subspecies of the Blackpoll Warbler (i.e. they are monotypic).

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