Living Bird Magazine
Magnolia WarblerSetophaga magnolia
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
Many male warblers are black and yellow, but Magnolia Warblers take it up a notch, sporting a bold black necklace complete with long tassels, a black mask, and a standout white wing patch. The female lacks the male's bold accoutrements, instead wearing an elegant white eyering on her gray head, 2 thin white wingbars, and yellow underparts with moderate streaking. These boreal warblers breed in dense stands of conifers and stop off in all types of forests during migration, where they forage at the tips of branches.More ID Info
Find This Bird
For most of the United States spring and fall is the time to see a Magnolia Warbler as they migrate to and from the breeding grounds in the boreal forest. Even more than the male’s telltale streaky black necklace, it pays to learn the unique undertail pattern—half white, half black—that identifies all plumages of this species. Within trees and shrubs watch for a warbler foraging on the outer edges of the tree, plucking insects from the undersides of leaves.
- Reinita de Magnolia (Spanish)
- Paruline à tête cendrée (French)
Magnolia Warblers do not visit feeders and may only stop off in your yard during migration, but you can still provide habitat for them by landscaping with native trees and shrubs. A bird-friendly backyard full of native trees and shrubs provides an excellent food-rich place for warblers and other migrants to stop and refuel. Head on over to Habitat Network to learn about which native species are good matches for your yard and read more about growing native plants for warblers.
- Cool Facts
- Though it has very specific habitat preferences in the breeding season, the Magnolia Warbler occupies a very broad range of habitats in winter: from sea level to 5,000 feet in cacao plantations, orchards, forests, and thickets.
- In 1810, Alexander Wilson collected a warbler from a magnolia tree in Mississippi, giving it the English name "Black-and-yellow Warbler" and "magnolia" for the scientific species name, which became the common name over time.
- The male Magnolia Warbler has two songs. The first song, issued in courtship and around the nest, consists of three short phrases with an accented ending. The second song, possibly issued in territory defense against other males, is similar to the first but is sweeter and less accented.
- The oldest recorded Magnolia Warbler was a male and at least 8 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Ontario. He had been banded in the same area.