Lucy’s Warbler

Oreothlypis luciae
Range Map

This bird is one of only two warblers known to nest in cavities. It is also the smallest of all New World warblers. The breeding range for this bird centers on the state of Arizona, spilling over somewhat into neighboring states and northern Mexico.

Vermivora luciae is a name no longer in favor by ornithologists. Some literature addresses this bird as Leiothlypis luciae.

The habitat these birds prefer is riparian mesquite, cottonwood-willow, and sometimes sycamore-oak woodlands. They are at home in some of the driest and hottest areas in the American southwest and northwestern Mexico. We have reduced much of their breeding habitats by developing housing and commercial interests.

Researchers do not recognise any subspecies of Lucy’s Warbler (i.e. they are monotypic).

Most of my encounters with this species have come from southern Arizona. The rural region surrounding the small town of Arivaca has been a favorite location to meet these birds, but other Arizona locations have proved productive, such as Madera Canyon and Agua Caliente Park in northeastern Tucson.

My first meeting with a Lucy’s Warbler was my most unusual one. In February 2017, I accompanied researchers on a seagoing voyage to the Revillagigedo Islands 600 miles off the coast of Colima (Mexico). When we visited Isla Socorro, a Lucy’s Warbler was one of the bird species we met.

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