Living Bird Magazine
Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.Try Merlin Bird ID
A grayish warbler highlighted with rich red-brown and creamy buff in the summer, the Bay-breasted transforms itself in the fall into a mostly green and white warbler with a hint of bay on the flanks. Uncommon during migration, these birds are numerous in the forests of northern Canada, where they specialize on spruce budworms. They nest in low-elevation coniferous forests and forage fairly low in dense foliage on the inner part of the tree. In autumn they closely resemble Blackpoll Warblers, despite looking so unlike them in summer.More ID Info
Most bird watchers’ best chance to see Bay-breasted Warblers will be during spring or fall migration. In spring, listen for the male’s song, which is similar to songs of Cape May and Black-and-white Warblers. The species forages at medium heights on the nesting grounds, but migrants frequent smaller trees and shrubs. In May, migrants may be numerous at hotspots in the eastern Great Lakes. In September, checking warbler flocks from Appalachia to the Atlantic should produce a few, but they are generally uncommon.