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Black-and-white Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of the earliest-arriving migrant warblers, the Black-and-white Warbler’s thin, squeaky song is one of the first signs that spring birding has sprung. This crisply striped bundle of black and white feathers creeps along tree trunks and branches like a nimble nuthatch, probing the bark for insects with its slightly downcurved bill. Though you typically see these birds only in trees, they build their little cup-shaped nests in the leaf litter of forests across central and eastern North America.


Males sing a thin, high-pitched, repetitive weesy, weesy, weesy song that lasts about 3 seconds. On the breeding grounds, the song may be longer, faster and more varied in pitch. Males sing a softer version of the song when near females during courtship and nest building.


Both male and female Black-and-white Warblers give a sharp chit or pit call, with many variations. Females call to mates when away from the nest, and males may call to mates in order to maintain contact.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Black-and-white Warblers are fairly common and often intent on foraging along tree limbs, so they don’t tend to be shy. Watch for them creeping fairly rapidly on, around, and under larger branches of taller trees. Black-and-white Warblers are also quite vocal. Their song is thin, almost squeaky, but penetrating, so it’s a good way to find them. Watch for them during migration (especially early in the season): at least one or two are typically found in any reasonably good arrival of migrant warblers.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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