Living Bird Magazine
Pine WarblerSetophaga pinus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
A bird true to its name, the Pine Warbler is common in many eastern pine forests and is rarely seen away from pines. These yellowish warblers are hard to spot as they move along high branches to prod clumps of needles with their sturdy bills. If you don’t see them, listen for their steady, musical trill, which sounds very like a Chipping Sparrow or Dark-eyed Junco, which are also common piney-woods sounds through much of the year.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The best way to find Pine Warblers is to narrow them down by habitat and voice. Head for a pine forest in the eastern United States (check a range map for specifics), and then listen for a clear, steady, trilling song. Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos sound very similar and can occur in the same habitats, so be aware you might find these birds instead. Pine Warblers tend to stay high in pines and can be obscured by tufts of needles, but a bit of patience is likely to be rewarded.
- Chipe Pinero (Spanish)
- Paruline des pins (French)
The only warbler that regularly eats seeds, the Pine Warbler will eat millet, cracked corn, sunflower seed, peanuts, and suet from elevated feeders in winter. It may also eat fruits from bushes and vines, like bayberry, flowering dogwood, grape, sumac, persimmon, and Virginia creeper. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- Migrant Pine Warblers from the northern part of the range join resident Pine Warblers in the southern United States in winter. Sometimes they form large flocks of 50 to 100 or more.
- The Pine Warbler is the only warbler that eats large quantities of seeds, primarily those of pines. This seed-eating ability means Pine Warblers sometimes visit bird feeders, unlike almost all other warblers.
- Most warblers leave the continental U.S. for winter, but the Pine Warbler stays in the Southeast and is one of the first to return northward in spring. It arrives as early as February in areas just north of the wintering range and may begin breeding by late April.
- The Pine Warbler’s closest relative seems to be the Olive-capped Warbler, which lives in pine forests of the West Indies. One of its next closest relatives is the ubiquitous Yellow-rumped Warbler, even though the two don’t superficially look much alike.
- Individual Pine Warblers can show physical differences according to their diets: birds that were experimentally fed with mostly seeds developed larger gizzards (the organ that crushes food into pieces) and longer digestion times, while birds that ate fruit had longer intestines and shorter digestion times.
- The oldest recorded Pine Warbler was a female, and at least 7 years, 10 months old when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Florida in 2013.