Living Bird Magazine
Swainson's WarblerLimnothlypis swainsonii
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
One of the most secretive and least observed of all North American birds, the Swainson's Warbler is a skulking bird of the southern canebrakes and rhododendron thickets. If it weren't for its loud, ringing song, the presence of the species in many areas would go completely undetected.More ID Info
- Reinita de Swainson (Spanish)
- Paruline de Swainson (French)
- Cool Facts
- One of the Swainson's Warbler wintering grounds is in the dry limestone forests of Jamaica. During the dry season some birds have trouble finding food there. Because the Swainson's Warbler digs under the leaf litter for insects, it is less affected by the dryness than birds foraging in the forest canopy or on the surface of the ground.
- The Swainson's Warbler holds a large territory for such a small bird, defending between 3 to 18 ha (7.4-44.5 acres). Measuring exact territory size is difficult, however, because of the extremely dense and vine-entangled habitat used for breeding.
- The Swainson's Warbler flies directly from perch to perch instead of hopping through the branches like most warblers. It often flies directly across its territory, from one side to the other without stopping in between. On the ground it walks rapidly and rarely hops.
- The Swainson's Warbler is commonly found in thickets of giant cane, and some researchers have suggested that the plant is essential for the species to nest. Recent work shows, however, that the warbler nests in lowland areas where cane is rare or absent. More important than the exact type of understory plants present is the presence of a thick understory with vine "tents" and tangles, and small shaded glades carpeted with leaf litter.
- The oldest recorded Swainson's Warbler was a male, and at least 9 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in South Carolina.