Warbler FAQs

We're celebrating warblers this week! Today we're sharing a few FAQs about this family of birds.

What is a warbler?
The name warbler is used to describe several different, unrelated, families of birds. So far, for Warbler Week, we have been talking about New World warblers, a group of small, often colorful, songbirds native to the New World (the Americas and nearby islands). New World warblers are in the taxonomic family Parulidae and there are just over 100 recognized species (Birdorable has 28).

What is a warbler?

The term Old World generally refers to Africa, Asia, and Europe together. Old World warblers make up a very large group of songbirds with a complicated taxonomy. There are over 400 species of Old World warbler, and most of them have a fairly undistinguished, often drab or plain appearance. Among some groups, field identification is a challenge. Birdorable has two closely related species of Old World warbler: the Sardinian Warbler and the Cyprus Warbler.

Compare old and new world warblers

A third family of birds is known as the Australasian Warblers. There are over 60 species in this family, Acanthizidae, split into two subfamilies. Birds in this group include the Peep-warblers, the Mountain Mouse-warbler, and the Weebill, Australia's smallest bird.

What do warblers eat?
Most New World warblers are insectivores, meaning they eat insects. The different species have various hunting methods for catching prey. Many warblers glean insects from foliage. Some hunt by hovering or fly-catching on the wing. American Redstarts feed almost exclusively on the wing, flashing their tails to startle prey into flight. The Black-and-White Warbler hunts like a nuthatch, moving up and down trunks and branches of trees in search of food. While most warblers forage in trees, some species hunt for prey on the ground. Connecticut Warblers and Ovenbirds forage among dead leaves on the ground for insects and spiders to eat.

Many species of warbler will supplement their diet with vegetable matter, like berries, seeds, or nectar, especially on their wintering grounds. The Cape May Warbler has a tubular tongue that it uses to feed on berry juice and nectar.

Why are they called warblers?
A warbler is one who warbles. The word warble comes from werbler, an Old French word meaning "to sing with trills and quavers". The Old World family of birds was first called "warblers", the name being given sometime around 1773. Old World warblers may look a bit drab, but they sure can sing. The New World warblers were given their family name due to their resemblance in size and shape to the Old World family.

What is the collective noun for warblers?
Like a flock of birds or a murder of crows, collective nouns are used to name a group of birds. A group of warblers is called a bouquet, a confusion, a fall, or a wrench of warblers. We also say there is a cord of wood-warblers.

In addition, there are several collective nouns for specific warbler species:

Corsage of Magnolia Warblers

Comments

Anita F Coogan on June 4, 2022 at 11:10 PM wrote:
I really liked this site. Is the photo Mrs. Rosalie Edge the bird activist from the 1900's? If so I've never seen a young picture, if her she has a very pretty sweet face. The tilt of the hat made me think of her, there was an article about Mrs. Edge in the April 2021 Smithsonian Magazine.
Anita F Coogan on June 4, 2022 at 11:14 PM wrote:
Forgot to mention I am crazy about Warblers. A friend & I rescue songbirds that hit the glass skyscrapers in Newark NJ, TRT made a video named 'Window Strikes in the Business District' of us picking up injured Warblers. In Newark most of the birds that hit the glass skyscrapers perish on impact, or when fall to the cement pavement. We bring injured to TRT(The Raptor Trust) for a 2nd chance. If I had the strength of Mrs. Edge I would have had the building of any new Glass buildings stopped and the old ones retro-fitted with bird safety on the glass -- but do what I can t0 spread the word and walk the streets of Newark searching for injured during Migration 3 hours each day/
Spurwing Plover on July 22, 2022 at 6:32 AM wrote:
I have seen the Yellow Rumped(Audubon)Warbler

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