Warblers are some of the coolest yet little-known species in the birding world. Spring is the perfect time to be on the lookout for these birds as they migrate north for nesting season.
Here are 12 warblers to look for this season, most of which are common throughout the Eastern United States. One thing to know that applies to all the species below is the males are generally brighter and more colorful than females.
Even though warbler isn’t part of its name, the American
redstart is still part of the family. This is one of the most common warblers —
you can find it throughout most of the Eastern U.S., part of the West and north into
Canada. You can pick out the males with bright flashes of red-orange on the
breasts and wings.
Black-throated blue warbler
When you see this bird in the wild, it can look all black at first glance because of its deep black throat and dark blue coloring. It spends the summer in the Northeast.
Black-throated green warbler
Look for the dark black throat on this warbler, along with a
bright yellow head and greenish sheen on its back. It might be hard to see this
one, as it likes to stay high in the trees.
This bird acts a lot like a nuthatch because of the way it
climbs up the trunk of a tree — not typical warbler behavior. If you know to
look for this, though, you can pick it out because of its bold black and white
This is one of the most striking and easy-to-spot warblers.
It has a bright orange head and a black-and-white striped body. The only bird
with brighter orange than this one is the oriole.
Cape May warbler
The first thing you’ll probably notice with this warbler is
the beautiful black stripes on its breast. Next, you’ll notice the chestnut
patch around its ear. While females don’t have this patch, it does make it easy
to pick out the males.
Another blue warbler, this one is streaked on its underside.
You can pick out this bird because it has a black “necklace” that goes across
Take one look at the males of this bird with the dark black
surrounding their face, and you’ll know how they got their name. Females lack
this color, but they still have a shadow of a hood.
Some birders call this bird “Maggie,” and it’s probably one
of the easiest warblers to spot because it stays low in the trees. It has a
very distinct pattern with a yellow throat, black stripes, and white on its
head and on the outside feathers.
This bird is well-known for its song. In fact, you’ll often
hear it before you see it because it hides so well in the trees. The parula is
blue-gray on the top and yellow underneath.
At first, this warbler seems pretty plain, but there are two
distinguishing things to look for. First is the chestnut cap on the very top of
its head. Next, look for it bobbing its tail up and down when it’s perched on a
One of the coolest things about this warbler is that it
nests in a cavity, so it will seek out a tree hole or even a birdhouse. They
will travel to parts of the North and Midwest, but they are much more common in
One of the best places to see these birds is during a
festival called The Biggest Week in American Birding. This event is held in northwest Ohio in
early May, and this area is considered “the warbler capital of the world.” If
you have the chance to go, it’s definitely worth your while.