Funny song keeps Blue-winged Warbler on the move

-A A +A

The Blue-winged Warbler perches for minutes at a time when uttering its song.

The reason could be because the song is so unusual and sounds like a loud insect-like “fuzzzz buzzzzzz” or somewhat like a deep sigh.

It is fairly common in overgrown fields, deciduous second growth woodlands, regenerating forest clear-cuts, reclaimed strip mine sites and similar habitat that could be commonly found along power lines. However, it will not occupy these areas unless there are small trees, shrubs and dense growth or if the ground cover is reduced by grazing or shading from a closed tree canopy.

It is definitely not a forest bird, like so many of the other warblers. The Blue-winged Warbler hangs-out much lower than most of the other warblers, usually about head high and in the densest tangles and leaf clusters. It is very agile and may hang upside down, similar to a chickadee, as if looking more closely for insect food, than other birds. You will be delighted, when you are able to see this small 4-and-three-quarter-inch long bird with a 7-and-a-half-inch wide wingspan, because of its attractive coloration.

Look at the yellow throat, breast and forehead with a black dark eye line that extends on through to its dagger like sharp beak. It also has grayish-blue wings with poorly defined whitish wing bars and the grayish-blue color extends through to its square-ended tail. However the under tail is white and this warbler frequently flicks its tail and in doing so, you will notice a flash of white on the outer edges.

The Blue-winged Warbler breeds from southern Massachusetts, western New York, southern Michigan and southeast Minnesota on South to northern Maryland, the North Georgia mountains, Kentucky, central Missouri and northeast Kansas. It winters from Southern Mexico to Guatemala.

This warbler arrives in Kentucky around the last two weeks of April, but has been known to get here as early as April 8.

Most clutches are completed during the last half of May with family groups being found during late June. It is more concentrated in Eastern Kentucky, but can occur across the state. It has been known to migrate south as late as Oct. 14 and usually migrates all the way across the Gulf non-stop, which may take 12 to 24 hours, depending on the prevailing winds.

The Blue-winged Warbler nest is always close to or on the ground and is built among and attached to upright stems of weeds or grass clumps. It is often very narrow and deep and supported on a sturdy foundation of dead leaves. It is made of coarse grasses, dead leaves, bark shreds and quite often grapevines.

The lining is made of fine bark shreds, grass stems and horsehair and built by the female with the male helping out in a small way, sometimes.

She also lays four to five, rarely six, smooth shelled white eggs with a slight gloss. They are dotted sparingly and spotted with shades of brown with the heaviest coloring at the large end. Incubation is by the female alone, for 10 to 11 days.

So enjoy bird watching as do 1.3 million other Kentuckians and especially get out with nature in the spring and summer, when you just might be fortunate enough to see the beautiful Blue-winged Warbler, in the great outdoors.


To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation. Horace Brown is a civil/sanitary engineer, land surveyor and nature photographer and writer. To contact him or order a copy of Brown’s 2014 Eagles, Falcons, Hawks & Vultures Calendar, E-mail whbrownpelpls@aol.com, call 502-682-7711 or write 527 Main St., Shelbyville 40065.