SPECIES

Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata Scientific name definitions

William DeLuca, Rebecca Holberton, Pamela D. Hunt, and Bonita C. Eliason
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated June 4, 2013

Photos from this Account

Breeding male

Small songbird with a short tail and a small thin bill. Breeding males have a black cap, a white cheek, and black streaking on the back and flanks. Note orangish legs.

Breeding female

Breeding females look similar to males, but have a finely streaked cap. Note broken eyering, dark eyeline, and orangish legs.

Breeding female

Some breeding females have a yellow wash on the breast and head. Note finely streaked cap, broken eyering, dark eyeline, and orangish legs.

Nonbreeding female/immature

Nonbreeding females/immatures are washed in pale yellow with blurry streaking on the flanks. Note bold white wingbars.

Nonbreeding female/immature

Nonbreeding females/immatures are washed in pale yellow with blurry streaking on the flanks. Picks insects and larvae from leaves and twigs.

Nonbreeding female/immature

Nonbreeding females/immatures are washed in pale yellow with blurry streaking on the flanks. Note bold white wingbars and orangish legs.

Breeding male

Uses evergreen and deciduous forests during migration. Breeding males have a distinctive black cap and white cheeks.

Breeding male

Breeding males have dark streaking down the back.

Breeding male

Breeds mainly in spruce and tamarack forests in Canada's boreal forests.

Breeding adult male Blackpoll Warbler, Petty Harbor, NL, 29 May.

Adult male Blackpoll Warbler in breeding plumage is difficult to confuse with any other North American bird. Black-and-white Warbler and Black-throated Gray Warbler are superficially similar, but neither has the combination of field marks shown by male Blackpoll. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oceanites/.

Breeding adult male Blackpoll Warbler, Seward Peninsula, AK, June.

Note white cheek contrasting with solid black cap and black malar stripe.; photographer Gerrit Vyn

Breeding male Blackpoll Warbler, Churchill, MB, 19 June.

Note this bird's rather faded brownish flight feathers and primary coverts, likely indicating that it is a first-spring male. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glennbartley/.

Female Blackpoll Warbler, Chambers Co., TX, April.

Breeding female Blackpolls are variable, though most are similar to this bird. Note the streaked underparts and back, pale yellowish legs, and bold white wing bars.; photographer Brian E. Small

Basic plumage Blackpoll Warbler, off the Maine coast, 5 October.

It is difficult to age and sex Blackpoll Warblers with certainty in fall in the field. Fall adult males generally show more streaking below and a dark lateral throat stripe. This bird is aged as an adult based on its broad truncate primary coverts, and is thus likely an adult female. This bird landed on a ship off the coast of Maine during migration. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonxie88/.

First-fall Blackpoll Warbler, Chester Co., PA, 4 November.

Fall Blackpolls are often confused with Bay-breasted Warblers. While the two are strikingly different in breeding plumage, in basic plumage they are very similar. Blackpolls usually show blurry streaks on the breast sides, have white undertail coverts, and have yellow soles to the feet, which often extend to some page on the rear portion of the legs. Bay-breasted usually shows some hint of bay or buff on the flanks, has yellowish undertail coverts, and dark legs. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/puttefin/.

Blackpoll Warbler with fat reserves, Powdermill, PA, 11 October.

Blackpoll Warblers migrate from the northeastern North America mostly over the open Atlantic Ocean to reach wintering areas in South America. This journey requires that they pack on fat reserves. In the photo on top, the visible subcutaneous (i.e., beneath the skin) fat is extensive along the sides, appearing as an orangish mass below the skin. At just 17.1g, however, this Blackpoll was far from Powdermill's record heavy weight for this species of 23.2g (imagine all traces of the breast musculature rendered invisible by fat!)

Blackpoll Warbler breeding habitat, Terra Nove NP, NL, 1 June.

Blackpoll Warbler breeds across an extensive range from Newfoundland to western Alaska. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oceanites/.

Blackpoll Warbler nest, Quebec.

Magdalen Is., Quebec. 8 July. Ruler is in cm.; photographer Rene Corado

Blackpoll Warbler clutch; Grand Lake, Newfoundland.

Collected 24 June. Ruler is in cm.; photographer Rene Corado


Macaulay Library Photos for Blackpoll Warbler

Top-rated photos submitted to the Macaulay Library via eBird. Note: Our content editors have not confirmed the species identification for these photos.

Recommended Citation

DeLuca, W., R. Holberton, P. D. Hunt, and B. C. Eliason (2020). Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata), 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.bkpwar.01