National Geographic Magazine/Volume 31/Number 4/Friends of Our Forests/Kentucky Warbler

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The Warblers of North America[edit]

Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus)[edit]

KENTUCKY WARBLER
Male and Female

Range: Breeds in Carolinian and Austroriparian Zones from southeastern Nebraska, southern Wisconsin, southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Hudson Valley south to eastern Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and northern Georgia; winters from Tabasco, Campeche, and Chiapas through Central America to Colombia.

The Kentucky warbler, with its rich colors and symmetrical form, is to be classed among the elect of the warbler tribe. Moreover, while locally common it is never so abundant that it does not excite a thrill of interest in the breast of even the most blasé of bird observers. It loves the deep, dark forest and shaded ravine, where the foliage overhead casts heavy shadows on the plentiful undergrowth beneath and where even in midsummer it is moist and cool.

The bird is a persistent singer, and in its own chosen haunts its loud, sweet song may be heard all day long. There is a curious resemblance between its ditty and that of the Carolina wren, and while no one can mistake the two songs when heard close by, at a distance even the expert may be puzzled. This warbler finds most of its food on the ground, and the thick undergrowth in which it hunts makes it difficult to learn much of its habits by observation, since it is difficult to keep an individual in sight many minutes at a time.

It builds a rather loose, bulky nest, largely of leaves and grasses, which is placed either on or just above the ground, and although it may seem to have been rather artlessly located it is in reality well protected by the surrounding vegetation with which it blends, and hence generally escapes the observation of all but the most persistent and sharp-sighted of observers.

Source: Henry W. Henshaw (April 1917), “Friends of Our Forests”, The National Geographic Magazine 31(4): 314. (Illustration from p. 317.)