Palm Warbler: Migration Monday

Warblers are on the way! Yippee! I went on E-bird today to record some data from my weekend birding trips (I’ll tell you about those soon!) and noticed that there were 18 possible birds listed in the Wood Warbler category. I haven’t spotted any of them yet this spring, but I’m excited because they’re on the the way. I chose the Palm Warbler as my subject today because this was one of the first warblers I was able to check off on my life list.

Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum)


The Palm Warbler is a streaky songbird that is only 5 inches. It has a brownish back, yellow underparts, and is streaky on its sides and chest. When breeding, Palm Warblers have distinctive chestnut-colored caps. These birds have a habit of almost constantly pumping its tail to reveal its bright yellow underside.

Palm Warbler in breeding plumage (Image by Julia Flanagan via


Palm Warblers migrate in the early spring and late in the fall. Summer (Breeding): West-Central Canada all the way east and the extreme Northern parts of the United States. Winters: Southeastern United States and the Caribbean. A very small population may winter along the Pacific Coast. Migration: Midwest to Eastern United States


Bogs and open coniferous forests in the summer, open spaces such as the edge of marshes and in fields during migration

(Image by Wolfgang Wander via wikimedia commons)


Mainly insects, different kinds of berries, and seeds. In the winter they will usually forage on the ground. In the summer they are mainly foliage gleaners, meaning they will eat insects of the leaves in bushes and thickets. They may also catch insects in the air.


Palm Warbler males may be polygamous  and have more than one mate. The female will construct the nest on the ground near the trunk of a spruce tree. They usually build the nest on top of moss and will cover the nest cup with grasses. They may have two broods per year, with 4-5 eggs in a clutch. Both parents will help incubate the eggs for around 12 days and feed the chicks. 12 days after hatching the chicks will fledge and be able to take short flights 1-2 days after fledging.


A small, weak trill. They sound similar to Chipping Sparrows but their song is slower.

Fun Facts:

  • People may think that Palm Warblers spend time in palms treed because of their names. However when they are in the Southeastern United States for winter you are more likely to see them hanging around palm groves but not actually in the trees. These warbler spend more time walking around on the ground than in trees.
  • They live farther North than most other wood warblers.
  • Palm Warblers who live in the easternmost part of their range tend to be a brighter yellow than in other areas. The westernmost Palms are duller and drabber, with white bellies.
Western variety in non-breeding plumage (Image by Tomfriedel via wikimedia commons)

Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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