• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Worm-eating Warbler

Helmitheros vermivorum ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: PARULIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, drab, but elegantly marked bird of the eastern deciduous forests, the Worm-eating Warbler is often found on steep slopes with dense understory. True to its name, it feeds largely on caterpillars ("worms").

eBird, submit your observations
Thank you AmericaSponsored Ad

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.3–5.1 in
11–13 cm
Weight
0.4–0.5 oz
12–14 g
Other Names
  • Paruline vermivore (French)
  • Chipe gusanero (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Late in incubation the female Worm-eating Warbler sits so tight on her nest that only touching her will flush her. Her cryptic coloring makes immobility a safe strategy. If she is flushed, she will flutter across the ground with her wings and tail spread, acting helpless to lure predators away from the nest.
  • Young Worm-eating Warblers typically leave their nest 8-10 days after hatching. Chicks as young as five days old have been observed leaving the nest and surviving, although they cannot fly at that age.
  • Although the Worm-eating Warbler forages in the understory near the ground and nests on the ground, it does not spend much time on the forest floor. It does not forage there, and when on the ground it hops instead of walking.

Habitat


Forest

  • Breeds in mature deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forest with patches of dense understory, usually on steep hillside.
  • Winters in tropical forests.

Food


Insects

Arthropods, spiders, slugs, and especially caterpillars.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
White to pink, with brown speckles.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and naked.
Nest Description

Nest a cup of skeletonized leaves lined with moss, placed on ground.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Foliage Gleaner

Gleans in low shrubs, but only rarely on ground. Probes into hanging dead leaf clusters and foliage.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Dependence on large forests for nesting make it vulnerable to population decreases. Populations seem stable across United States. Listed on the Audubon Watchlist

Credits

  • Hanners, L. A., and S. R. Patton. 1998. Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus). In The Birds of North America, No. 367 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Worm-eating Warbler Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings