Magnolia Warbler

Setophaga magnolia

When they leave their winter homes in the tropics of southern Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, or the Caribbean, many Magnolia Warblers pass through southern Texas on their way north to raise the next generation. Their summer range stretches from northeast British Columbia and southwest Northwestern Territories through the Great Lakes region of Canada and the USA, and continues to Canada’s Maritime Provinces and northeastern USA.

They forage mostly in the upper canopy looking for caterpillars when they can find them and any bug, spider or arthropod when they can’t. They build their small nests (under 4″ in diameter) at about 10-15 feet up in fir trees.

I enjoyed meeting migrating Magnolia Warblers during both my 2020 and my 2021 spring visits to South Padre Island.

Around 2010 and 2011, the discipline of genetics began dominating the science of taxonomy. They shifted the Magnolia and many other warblers from Dendroica to Setophaga, and now the new genus has 34 members, the most of any genus in the family Parulidae. Today’s science recognises no subspecies of Magnolia Warblers (i.e. they are monotypic).

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