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

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The Warblers of North America[edit]

Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum palmarum)[edit]


Range: Breeds in Canadian Zone from southern Mackenzie (Fort Simpson) and central Keewatin south and southeast to northern Minnesota; winters from southern Florida and the Bahamas to the Greater Antilles and Yucatan.

The palm warbler, including under this name both the eastern and western, or yellow (Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea), representatives of the species, is for the most part an inhabitant of the Mississippi Valley and the region eastward, spending its nesting season chiefly north of our northern frontier. It is, therefore, as a spring and fall migrant that it is best known. Its somewhat subdued tints of olive and yellow streaked with brown class it among the less conspicuous members of the warbler group, but its motions and habits unmistakably distinguish it from its fellows. Though often associating with other warblers as they flit from tree to tree, the palm warbler keeps close to Mother Earth and not infrequently visits pastures and stubble far from cover of any sort. Favorite hunting grounds are old fences and even buildings.

Perhaps the most salient characteristic of this little warbler is the almost incessant tip-up motion of its tail, in which respect it recalls a bird in no wise related to it—the spotted sandpiper, or “tip-up,” of pond and stream. It nests on the ground. Its song is a low, faint trill, characteristically warblerlike, but in no way remarkable. It winters in great numbers in Florida, and in 1871 I found it wintering in loose flocks of considerable size near Lakes Borgne and Ponchartrain, Louisiana, where it fed chiefly on the ground and among low bushes.

Source: Henry W. Henshaw (April 1917), “Friends of Our Forests”, The National Geographic Magazine 31(4): 319. (Illustration from p. 317.)