Living Bird Magazine
Chestnut-sided WarblerSetophaga pensylvanica
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
The crisply plumaged Chestnut-sided Warbler is not your average warbler of the deep forest. These slender, yellow-capped and chestnut-flanked songsters thrive in young, regrowing forests, thickets, and other disturbed areas. Look for them foraging among the fine branches of slender saplings, tail cocked, and listen for males singing an excitable pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha! In fall, this bird molts into lime-green and grayish white plumage with a distinctive white eyering, and heads to thickets, shade-coffee plantations, and second growth forest in Central America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Stay around clearings, road edges, or other disturbed sites with young deciduous trees to find Chestnut-sided Warblers. Listen out for their sweetly sung pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha!, more emphatic than Yellow Warbler and more musical than American Redstart. Look for this bird foraging, often with its tail raised and wings drooped, among the outer branches of shrubs and small trees, often lower than other warblers. They often come closer to investigate quiet pishing sounds.
- Reinita de Pensilvania (Spanish)
- Paruline à flancs marron (French)
- Cool Facts
- In 2018, a beautiful but puzzling hybrid warbler turned up in Pennsylvania. After much observation and study, Cornell Lab researcher David Toews and colleagues determined it was the first known “triple hybrid” warbler: the offspring of a male Chestnut-sided Warbler and a female “Brewster’s Warbler,” which is itself a hybrid of Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. Toews christened the individual “Burket’s Warbler,” in honor of the citizen scientist who documented it carefully on his family property.
- On the wintering grounds in Central America the Chestnut-sided Warbler joins in mixed-species foraging flocks with the resident antwrens and tropical warblers. Individual warblers return to the same areas year after year, joining back up with the same foraging flock it associated with the year before.
- The Chestnut-sided Warbler sings two basic songs: one is accented at the end (the pleased-to-meetcha song), and the other is not. Males sing the accented songs primarily to attract a female; once nesting is well underway they switch over to the unaccented songs, which are used mostly in territory defense and aggressive encounters with other males. Some males sing only unaccented songs, and they are less successful at securing mates than males that sing both songs.
- The oldest recorded Chestnut-sided Warbler was at least 6 years, 11 months old when it was found in Rhode Island in 1980. It had been banded in the same state in 1973.