Prairie warbler

Prairie warbler
Dendroica discolor

Photo by William Hull (Mango Verde)

Common name:
prairie warbler (en); mariquita-da-pradaria (pt); paruline des prés (fr); chipe galán (es); rostscheitel-waldsänger (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae

This species is found breeding in southern Ontario, Canada, and across the eastern United States from Maine to Michigan and Iowa, and south to the Gulf coast from eastern Texas to Florida. The population in Florida is resident, but all others migrate south to winter in the northern Caribbean, as far south as Montserrat, and along the Atlantic coast of southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and northern Nicaragua.

These birds are 10-12 cm long and have a wingspan of 18-19 cm. they weigh 6-9 g.

They are mostly found in dry scrublands and along forest edges, but also in rural gardens. The resident population in Florida prefers mangroves. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

They mainly feed on insects, including caterpillars, moths, tree crickets, lacewings, bugs, beetles, aphids, leafhoppers and grasshoppers, and also spiders and millipedes. Sometimes they also take berries and tree sap.

Prairie warblers nest in loose colonies and males can mate with several females. They breed in May-July  and the nest is an open cup made of plant down and lined hairs. It is placed low in a tree or scrub, usually less than 3 m above the ground. The female lays 2-5 pale brownish or grey eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 11-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 8-11 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 4-5 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least  Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1,4 million individuals. The overall population seems to be stable or only slightly decreasing, but significant declines were reported along the western parts of their breeding range, mostly due to habitat loss caused by human development and afforestation.

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