Blue-Winged Warbler

Blue-Winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera)

blue-winged warbler

Blue-winged warbler./R. Royse

General: Blue-winged warblers are small, active birds with yellow heads and underparts, a black eye-line, and blue-gray wings with white wing-bars. They live in young forest and mid-successional habitats where the dense undergrowth may be partially shaded by overstory trees. Biologists consider blue-winged warblers to be "habitat generalists" because they use fields with dense herbaceous vegetation as well as open woods with a dense, shrubby understory. These birds do not generally inhabit mature forests, where trees' leafy canopies have knit together, cutting off sunlight to the forest floor. Blue-winged warblers interbreed with closely related golden-winged warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera) and produce hybrids known as Brewster’s and Lawrence’s warblers.

Status: In recent years, blue-winged warblers have been expanding their range northward. Some surveys indicate an annual population decline across the breeding range (although not a significant one). The fact that blue-winged and golden-winged warblers interbreed may be contributing to both species' decline in numbers. As of 2015, the blue-winged warbler was classified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in 18 eastern and Midwestern states, because it largely depends on a type of habitat – young forest and shrubland – that is decreasing as forests mature, wildfires are suppressed, and clearcuts are created infrequently in areas suitable for colonization by blue-winged warblers.

How to Help Blue-Winged Warblers: Populations increase following clearcuts that provide forest-canopy openings and spur the low dense growth of shrubs and young trees.
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 the blue-winged warbler, 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 blue-winged warblers and other wildlife that use young forest.