Once, the Audubon’s Warbler was mistaken for the Yellow-rumped Warbler and Myrtle Warbler. And while they are mostly the same bird species, for the most part, they do have some differences scientists didn’t manage to decipher until around 1973. For one, Myrtle Warbler is thought to reside in the east of the U.S. while Audubon’s Warblers stay to the west. The species might also have hybrids in places where their breeding ranges meet like in Western Canada.
It is in a 2011 study that it was known for certain that Audubon’s Warblers are actually the result of the mixing of Myrtle Warbler with Black-fronted Warbler. Let’s find out about this species of warbler that has been denied its individual identity for so long.
Today, we’ll learn about:
- Audubon’s Warbler color patterns, songs, and size
- Audubon’s Warbler behavior, habitat, and diet
- Audubon’s Warbler lifecycle, nesting, and migration range
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Audubon’s Warblers Color Pattern
In spring, the adult male Audubon’s Warblers have a black back. Their head is also black while their throat happens to be a bright shade of yellow. Compared to the adult male, the adult female the yellow present in the throat and shoulder is more faded. More difference is seen in the rather brown back and wing bars, which are white. Comparatively, the male has white wing panels.
The color patterns on the juvenile male are similar for the most part. However, the tail has more black in it. The wing panel is also incomplete and doesn’t have the same shade of white. The juvenile female also has more brown shades compared to their adult version and the shoulders are more white. The throat happens to be yellow.
In fall, that is during their non-breeding season, they take on a more grey and black color for their back. The breast area has streaks of blacks on them. The adult female and male look similar for the most part and the only way you can differentiate them from one another at this point is if the extensive streaks of black are present on the breasts and back. It is virtually an impossible task to distinguish between an adult female and juvenile male Audubon’s Warblers. They are browner compared to adult males and there are lighter streaks across their breasts.
The juvenile female happens to have a dull color overall and there is a slight tint of yellow on their throat. Juvenile females and adult females appear the same for the most part during this season. The only times they can be distinguished is when the throat of juvenile females is white.
Description And Identification
If there is one thing none of us need to worry about, for now, it is the conservation status of Audubon’s Warblers. In the west, they are in abundance and spread nicely throughout the U.S. What we do need to worry about is whether the warbler we are spotting can be termed Audubon’s Warblers for certain. Considering scientists were unable to identify them properly until 1973 for a different species, even for experienced birdwatchers, it is a hard task. As a birder, you might have already spotted one and mistaken it for a Yellow-rumped Warbler even.
Well, there is not much that can be done. We will recommend listening to their song recordings a lot before finding them. Their song is distinguished and despite similarity with Myrtle’s songs, can be easily different. The same applies to their calls. Another way to recognize them is dependent on their color patterns. While they do share similar patterns with Yellow-rumped Warblers, the details we have shared of their color pattern should help you identify them to a greater degree.
This is a bird species whose plumage color changes depending on the season. There are also interesting differences between the juvenile ones and adult ones in colors. If you memorize all these details, you should be able to identify Audubon’s Warblers for what it is with certainty rather than as a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Audubon’s Warbler Song
Compared to Myrtle Warbler, the call of Audubon’s Warblers’ is softer. It has a sweetness to it and does not seem that harsh to your ear. There are two main calls that Yellow-rumped warblers have and when you hear them, you can understand the difference between Myrtle and Audubon’s Warblers if you listen for the presence or absence of sharpness in the harsh notes. Both the calls can be memorized and if you want to be successful in differentiating between all these species of warblers, you need to learn all kinds of calls. There is also the soft “psit” sound from Audubon’s Warblers when they are flying.
Then, there is the song of Audubon’s Warblers. They begin with a stable pitch which rises considerably with each note. The pace also fastens towards the end. The songs happen to be about 3 seconds long and have a total of 21 notes. The male Audubon’s Warblers sing whistle, soft trill that will please your ears from far.
Audubon’s Warbler Size
As far as warbler species go, Audubon’s Warblers are certainly large. They are about the size of Black-capped Chickadees. In length, they might be anywhere from 12 to 14 cm. Their weight can amount to 12 to 13 g, which is not much for bird species but generous for warblers. Then, their wingspan is good, desired 19 cm to 23 cm, which is wonderful for their body size.
They have a large heads compared to their body. Their body is more narrow, oval-shaped than round. They have long but narrow tails. Their legs are thin and they have a thick bill.
Audubon’s Warbler Behavior
The Audubon’s Warblers are an active bunch. Typically, during the summer months, they are much more exuberant. They are seen hopping around as they catch one insect after another, their food for the day.
During the colder season, they migrate with other mixed flocks of birds. They eat berries around this time of the year as insects tend to hide from view and they need to find nutrition in whatever form they can.
What Audubon’s Warblers Eat
By nature, all Warblers are insect feeders. Insects will always be their main source of food. Audubon’s Warblers do not seem to have any plans of divulging from that trend. Beetles, caterpillars, bugs, and spiders are among the many living insects they feed on. However, in winter, when insects are uncommon and hiding away in the winter climate, they will turn to berries. The small flock of birds migrating around will share berries amongst them.
Where Audubon’s Warblers Live And Habitat
For breeding, Audubon’s Warblers prefer mixed wood areas and coniferous forests. They are similar to Myrtle warblers in their choice of habitat in this regard. The most common habitat of Audubon’s Warblers is coniferous forests. In summer and spring, they might make their way to deciduous forests if coniferous forests are not present in the area. Then, during winter and fall, migration takes them out from the thick forest habitats to open, shrubby lands. Their eating habits have a lot to do with where they end up traveling during migration.
Range and Migration
Despite not having an identity of their own until the recent decades, among the subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Audubon’s Warblers are undoubtedly the most familiar ones. The birdwatchers in the west of the US are especially acquainted with this bird species. During winter, they don’t migrate a huge distance. Instead, the winter is spent in the west of the U.S., from Mexico to Honduras.
In a zone in Canada, where the two forms of the birds meet, interbreeding is seen. This happens at the northern side of the range of the Audubon’s Warblers. This is interesting considering Audubon’s Warblers have been thought to be the result of interbreeding between Black-front Warbler and Myrtle Warblers.
Check out the migration of the Robin!
Audubon’s Warbler Lifecycle
In a brood, about 4 to 5 eggs are born from a female Audubon’s Warbler. The eggs are a creamy white color with gray or brown spots at the end. Usually, the female warbler incubates the egg. From time to time, the male parent will help cover it. In about 12 to 13 days, the eggs are hatched.
The nestlings are fed by both sets of parents. After about 10 to 12 days, the young Audubon’s Warblers are ready to leave the nest. They can’t fly until about 2 to 3 days later from when they leave their nest. During that time, they hover from one branch to another or on the ground. It is assumed that the first brood in a year is fed by the male parent while the second brood is taken care of by the female parent after they turn into fledglings.
For nesting, Audubon’s Warblers usually prefer trees. In a coniferous tree, on the branch close to the edge, the female Audubon’s Warblers gives birth to about 4 to 5 eggs. Sometimes, they will place the nest in the forked area where the branch and the trunk meets. The nests are open cup ones built solely by the female warbler. Twigs, roots, bark, and fiber are used to make the nest. To line, the nest, feathers, hair, etc is used. They line it in such a way that some of the material forms a shade so that the nest is covered. The ideal tree for the nest is a coniferous tree where the nest can be placed anywhere from 4’ to 50’ above ground. They are similar to Yellow-rumped warblers in every way when it comes to their nesting habits.
The courtship season sees a male Warbler that refuses to leave the side of female Audubon’s Warblers. They are seen fluffing their feathers, showing off their crown, fluttering and calling about as they show off their wings.
Anatomy of an Audubon’s Warbler
Truthfully, if you see an Audubon’s Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler, there is a low possibility you would be able to differentiate between them. There is not anything that exactly makes them anatomically stand out. They have the same, short but thick and curved bill. The legs are thin as that of all Warblers, even thinner with thin feet. They have a large head for an otherwise small body. The body is not chunky like a lot of warblers but rather slender and oval belly. The neck area is not much to write about and they have large, round eyes for their head size. Overall, Audubon’s Warblers present a small, but adorable view like most warblers.
The thing about Audubon’s Warblers is that their breeding range overlaps with Yellow-rumped warblers a lot. This is a given, considering they are basically subspecies of the same warbler family. It is also because of this reason along with similar feeding behavior, lifecycle span, and even songs and color patterns that scientists did not have any idea they were different species until recently. It is only after certain DNA tests that it was confirmed for certain that Audubon’s Warblers are actually the result of hybridization between Myrtle and Black-front Warblers. Further, this species of warbler ends up breeding with Myrtle where their ranges meet.
So, the advice you have to follow while on a birdwatcher’s quest to find and identify Audubon’s Warblers is the same as Yellow-rumped Warblers. Keep your eyes trained to the branches of coniferous trees, and you might see the one which is creeping about for insects along with the leaves. The chance of developing a Warbler’s neck while on the hunt for Audubon’s Warblers is real, so keep your cameras and binoculars handy. A map to guide you through the thick forests should also be appreciated.
Now, if you do see an Audubon’s Warblers, how can you be sure it is not the Yellow-rumped one? Well, you can check whether they have a softer, check call. You can also pay attention to the color patterns we have stated and see if it matches according to the season. Otherwise, it is anyone’s guess which species of Warblers you have spotted.
If you lived learning about this bird check out a national park that has even cooler things to learn.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation. Here’s another subscription to check out.
- Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription with 10×42 Binoculars$10.00 / month and a $58.00 sign-up fee
- 12 Month Prepaid Bird Watching Subscription – 1 patch a month$84.00
- 12 Month Prepaid Bird Watching Subscription – 3 patches a month$120.00
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Audubon’s Warblers
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Audubon’s Warblers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here. Here are some kid Binoculars to check out. Also, learn about birds with interactive lesson plans.
Audubon’s Warblers Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Audubon’s Warblers. Here is the sticker pack we sell with an Audubon’s Warblers sticker.
Also look into buying a mug to alwasy remember where you can learn more about birds.
Bird Feeders For Audubon’s Warblers
There are many types of bird feeders. Bird feeders are a great addition to your backyard. Bird feeders will increase the chances of attracting birds drastically. Both kids and adults will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. There are a wide variety of bird feeders on the market and it is important to find the best fit for you and your backyard. Here are some bird seeds that you can put inside your bird feeder.
Best Bird Houses For Audubon’s Warblers
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great. Look at this Finch birdhouse for example. Also, consider buying a birdbath it goes well with a birdhouse.