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Blackpoll Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The sharply marked Blackpoll Warbler is nature’s hearing test, with a high-pitched, almost inaudible song that floats through the boreal forests of Canada. This long-distance athlete weighs less than half an ounce yet makes the longest overwater journey of any songbird—nearly 1,800 miles nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean to its wintering grounds. In the fall, this black-and-white warbler molts into yellow-green plumage and loses its black cap. Although still numerous, it has lost an estimated 88% of its population in the last 40 years.


Male Blackpoll Warblers sing a short, high-pitched song made up of a series of staccato notes. The 3-second song gently fades in, increases in volume, and then fades back out. They sound almost like a tiny helicopter approaching and slowly passing, tsit tsit TSIT TSIT tsit tsit. Males sing 5–12 notes per second and frequently sing at all hours of the day on the breeding grounds. They also sing a rapid trill song, in which each note blends into the next with less of a staccato sound.


Male and females give a loud squeaking chip note.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Create a bird friendly backyard to provide foraging habitat for migrating Blackpoll Warblers and other birds. Head on over to Habitat Network to learn more about birdscaping your backyard.

Find This Bird

These birds breed so far north that the best times for most people to see them are in spring and fall, as they migrate through North America. Spring is arguably the best time—males' colors and patterns are crisp and sharp, and the birds will be traveling overland and singing as they move north. Despite their affinity for evergreen trees on the breeding grounds they tend to forage in deciduous trees and shrubs during migration. Listen intently for their high-pitched song, as it is sometimes easy to overlook. You can also spot Blackpoll Warblers during fall migration, but they take a different route than in spring and are unlikely to be seen south of North Carolina. They look much different in fall and rarely sing—but they are much more numerous since all the young of the year are on their way south in addition to the adults. Look for them in mixed flocks of migrating warblers.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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