Cape May Warbler

Setophaga tigrina
Range Map

Cape May Warblers spend their winters in the West Indies, the Caribbean, and Central America, north as far as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. When spring rolls around, they pack up and head north for the summer breeding season to Canada and northeastern USA. Their range in Canada extends from northern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories to the Maritime provinces and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

These birds enjoy similar summer habitats and diets as Blackburnian, Bay-Breasted, and Blackpoll 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. This quartet of warblers play an important role in the war on the Spruce Budworm, that devastates millions of acres of forest.

I enjoyed meeting these birds during my 2021 spring migration vigil on South Padre Island. I met many warblers for the first time during this visit, and hence, all were special to me. Some visiting warblers seemed to have a rock star status among the more experienced local birders. The Cape May Warbler seemed to be one such bird.

Today science considers the Cape May Warbler as monotypic (there are no recognised subspecies).

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