Living Bird Magazine
Living Bird Magazine
Cerulean WarblerSetophaga cerulea
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
A warbler the color of the clear blue sky hops sky high through the upper canopy of eastern forests. That’s the male Cerulean Warbler, a brilliant blue songbird with a cerulean neck band and streaks down the sides. Females are equally well-dressed, wearing a dusky hue of blue-green. These long-distance migrants breed in mature eastern deciduous forests and spend the winters in the Andes in South America. Their populations have declined dramatically due to habitat loss.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Cerulean Warblers forage at the top of the canopy, often 50 feet above the ground, which means you'll have to do a bit of neck craning to see them. But the reward of seeing a sky-blue warbler is worth a bit of a sore neck. They tend to forage near gaps in the canopy, which also offer a better vantage point from which to see them. Males frequently sing their buzzy, ascending songs while foraging. Focus on the sound and look for movement in the canopy without your binoculars first before trying to scan the canopy. They have a habitat of foraging at the closest part of a twig and hopping toward the end, veering slight upward through the canopy as they go. Brushing up on your tree ID might help you spot them too, as they often use white oaks, cucumber magnolias, bitternut hickories, and sugar maples more than other species.
- Reinita Cerúlea (Spanish)
- Paruline azurée (French)
- Cool Facts
- On the wintering grounds in South America the Cerulean Warbler is usually found in mixed-species canopy flocks, associating with tropical tanagers and other resident species.
- When renesting after a failed nest, the female often uses spiderweb from the old nest to start construction on the new nest. Fresh lining is gathered for the new nest, but spiderweb may be too valuable and hard to find to waste.
- The female Cerulean Warbler has an unusual way of leaving a nest after sitting on it a while. Some people call it "bungee-jumping." She drops from the side of the nest, keeping her wings folded to her sides, and opens her wings to fly only when she is well below the nest.