Black-and-White Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler (Mniotilta varia)

black-and-white warbler

Black-and-white warbler./J.D. Mays

General: These handsome black-and-white forest birds have long hind toes and claws that let them creep along tree trunks and branches when searching for insect food. They breed in deciduous and mixed woodlands that are both young and in older growth stages. They site their nests on the forest floor at the base of a tree, stump, or rock, or partly hidden under a log or fallen tree branch. Some biologists consider black-and-white warblers to be habitat generalists. However, studies have shown that they need a dense understory of shrubs or young trees during the breeding season and right after the young have left the nest. If there is a thick understory of shrubs and other plants, black-and-white warblers can use both closed- and open-canopy forests, though they prefer young forests, especially those in the sapling stage up to pole stage.

Status: Population trends for this species vary across their breeding range. A number of states in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest classify the black-and-white warbler as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

How to Help Black-and-White Warblers: Local populations increase following timber harvests, as they readily use newly regenerating and young forest habitats.

Both public and private landowners can make young forest habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing black-and-white warblers and other wildlife that use young forest.