Wilson’s Warbler

Cardellina pusilla

The Wilson’s Warbler breeds across Canada and south through the western Montana and northern Idaho, and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and winters from Mexico south through much of Central America. A few of these smallest of North America warblers may winter near the Texas and Louisiana gulf coasts.

These birds like to breed in open woods with dense understory. Sometimes they forage high in the canopy, but more often they look for insect prey in the lower parts of the trees and in shrubs nearer the ground.

Current taxonomist classify three subspecies of Wilson’s Warbler, but recent genetic studies may soon change this view to include as many as six subspecies. The three subspecies presently on the books are: C. p. pileolata breeds in Alaska, Yukon Territory (Canada), the Rocky Mountains, northeastern California, Nevada, Utah and northern New Mexico; C. p. pusilla breeds in central and eastern Canada; and C. p. chryseola breeds on the lowlands of the Pacific coast of southern British Columbia (Canada), south to southern California, and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

These birds are always a joy to see. I’ve met them in Alaska, the Yukon, northern and southern California, and migrating through south Texas.

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