- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
Lucy’s Warbler nests in the driest habitat of any U.S. or Canada warbler: the mesquite bosques and riparian washes of the Desert Southwest. These scattered stands offer shade and insects, and Lucy’s Warbler pairs may nest almost on top of each other when they find good patches of habitat. The species’ gray plumage is highlighted with rich cinnamon on the crown and rump. Lucy’s Warblers nest in tree cavities—one of only two warbler species that do so (the other is the Prothonotary Warbler of the Southeast).More ID Info
Find This Bird
Lucy’s Warblers are most conspicuous in spring, when males sing ceaselessly in the morning in extensive stands of mesquite. They sing as they forage, moving restlessly and quickly, so it may take a few minutes to see one well. In late spring and summer, small family groups forage together but are quiet and can be difficult to detect. You may be able to attract Lucy’s Warblers by “pishing” or squeaking.
- Reinita de Lucy (Spanish)
- Paruline de Lucy (French)
Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages and our All About Birdhouses site. Members of Tucson Audubon have noticed that Lucy's Warblers tend to nest in places with two points of exit (unlike standard nest boxes), and have designed an innovative triangular nest box for this species.
- Cool Facts
- The Lucy's Warbler is one of only two warblers that breeds in cavities. (The Prothonotary Warbler is the other.) When using a woodpecker hole, the warbler may fill the cavity nearly to the top with debris and put the nest on top so it can see out.
- In 1861, ornithologist and surgeon James Graham Cooper found Lucy’s Warbler along the lower Colorado River near Fort Mojave, Arizona—the site where present-day Arizona, California, and Nevada come together. Although many naturalists had traversed this region in previous decades, they had overlooked the tiny Lucy’s Warbler.
- Lucy’s Warbler was named in honor of Lucy Hunter Baird, the daughter of ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird, the second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The species is sometimes also called “mesquite warbler” and “desert warbler” to indicate its preferred habitat.
- The oldest recorded Lucy's Warbler was a male, and at least 5 years, 10 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Arizona.