Bachman's Warbler Vermivora bachmanii Scientific name definitions

Paul B. Hamel
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated August 19, 2011

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Two recordings of the songs of Bachman's Warbler have been made: one by Arthur Allen and Peter Paul Kellogg near the present day site of Lorton, VA (Lebanon Estate, belonging to Dr. Paul Bartsch at the time in 1954; Barnes 1954); the other by Stuart Keith near Charleston, SC, in 1958. Copies of both recordings are in the collections of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics at Ohio State University and the Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. What little is known quantitatively of the vocalizations is based on these recordings.

Vocal Array

Structural and functional distinction between songs and calls in this species have not been investigated. Recordings of 2 individuals exist, both from the South Atlantic coastal plain; relating differences between 2 recordings to geographic or any other variation is fruitless. The songs nonetheless are different in form (see Figure 4). Stein (Stein 1968) examined song in this species, using the Virginia (Lebanon) recording. He related song to Type II songs of Golden-winged and Blue-winged warblers (see Confer 1992b). Hanes (Hanes 1958) presented diagram of songs of an additional bird not recorded, and the songs appear similar to those recorded at the same location 4 yr earlier (Barnes 1954). Call notes were not recorded; they are usually rendered as zeep or a buzzy zip; given by both sexes.


Probably typical of the genus. Males sing to advertise territory in the spring and quit when the breeding season is finished. Call notes are the primary means of vocal communication at other seasons. Among scanty data, Widmann (Widmann 1897) observed that males with large dark patches on the breast began singing earlier in the season than did males with smaller patches; he speculated that the birds with large dark patches were older, and those with smaller patches younger. His interpretation is consistent with evidence from specimens (Hamel and Gauthreaux 1982). Extended observations of single singing males indicate that singing frequency decreased, for presumably unmated males, over the course of the season (Hanes 1958). Apparently only the males sing, but both sexes give alarm and other calls.

Daily Pattern Of Vocalizing

Not investigated. Anecdotal information such as the statement in Scott (Scott 1981: 50) that “it sang almost all the time....I never heard a territorial male of any species sing so incessantly,” are perhaps descriptive of the activities of unmated birds and hence do not reflect the usual case among breeding birds.

Places Of Vocalizing

Territorial males apparently had preferred song perches from which they gave advertising songs. No quantitative data.

Nonvocal Sounds


Bachman's Warbler Figure 4. Song, South Carolina.
Figure 4. Song, South Carolina.

Song of Bachman’s Warbler, recorded in South Carolina, June 1959. Sonogram prepared by staff of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Ohio State University, BLB recording #C237.

Recommended Citation

Hamel, P. B. (2020). Bachman's Warbler (Vermivora bachmanii), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bacwar.01