Living Bird Magazine
Connecticut WarblerOporornis agilis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
The Connecticut Warbler is an infamously hard-to-find bird that forages on the ground in remote muskeg, spruce bogs, and poplar forests. Simply plumaged, with a gray hood, yellow belly, and olive back, the Connecticut Warbler has a large bill and a large pale eyering—often the first field mark that stands out. Although males sing from trees, this species forages by walking slowly through underbrush, where it is difficult to see. Probably owing to its retiring habits and remote habitats, Connecticut is among the least studied of American songbirds.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Most birders happen upon Connecticut Warblers during migration, barring a trip to the species’ remote northern breeding grounds. Look for Connecticut Warblers close to the ground in dense undergrowth. If you do visit their breeding grounds from late May through June, look and listen for males singing consistently from song perches in trees. These perches can be well concealed within the foliage near the crown, but males tend to sing for long periods at a stretch and typically return to precisely the same set of perches in the territory daily.
- Reinita de Connecticut (Spanish)
- Paruline à gorge grise (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Connecticut Warbler was named after the state where the first specimen was collected. However the species does not breed in Connecticut, nor is it an especially common migrant there.
- Connecticut Warblers are such skulkers that ornithologists did not discover the first nest until 1883, and only one study of a nesting pair has been published, in 1961.
- John James Audubon once watched two Connecticut Warblers taking spiders from the water’s surface by swooping over the water like Barn Swallows—a behavior never reported since.
- The Connecticut Warbler used to be placed in the same genus as MacGillivray’s Warbler and Mourning Warbler. Despite their similarities, these other two species are now considered close relatives of the yellowthroats, in genus Geothlypis. And like yellowthroats, MacGillivray’s and Mourning both hop when on the ground, whereas Connecticut Warbler walks, more like an Ovenbird.
- Normally, seeing more than one Connecticut Warbler in fall migration is very unusual. But after Hurricane Emily hit Bermuda in September 1987, ornithologist David Wingate found 75 Connecticut Warblers in one spot. These birds were on their migration route from New England to South America over the ocean but had been grounded by the strong winds.
- The oldest recorded Connecticut Warbler was at least 4 years, 3 months old when it was found in Pennsylvania in 1964. It had been banded in New Jersey in 1960.