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Kirtland's Warbler Setophaga kirtlandii


The Kirtland's Warbler is a large North American breeding warbler which winters in the Bahamas. Though the winter distribution is not yet fully understood, this bird has been extensively studied on Eleuthera Island, and confirmed in recent years from Long Island and other islands in the Bahamas. In the Neotropics, this species associates closely with low fruiting vegetation in recently disturbed areas, and is thought to be nomadic in the winter in search of its preferred berries, especially Black Torch, Wild Sage, and Snowberry. This large and distinctive species is almost unmistakable, though confusion has occurred on Grand Bahama with the local race of Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica flavescens). Behavior is a key element in quick identification of this species in the winter. Kirtland's feeds in low shrubs and on the ground, actively pumping its tail. Unlike Yellow-throated Warbler, it is mostly fruigivorous in winter and Kirtland's will not probe into bark or under leaves. This species is globally very rare, but recovery efforts on the breeding grounds have greatly increased the population of Kirtland's Warbler in recent years. This species gives a thick, guttural chip, which can be recognized with familiarity. The Kirtland's Warbler will also occasionally sing on its wintering grounds, especially towards March and April.

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© Robert C. Stein

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Recommended Citation

Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: