Townsends Warbler

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Townsends Warbler, Vancouver Island, BC
Townsends Warbler, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

The Townsend’s Warbler is quite common in the Pacific Northwest including Vancouver Island. You should look high up in conifer trees where they can be seen feeding on insects. They are quite hard to see in the foliage and they tend to move around quickly. Look for the dark eye patch.

The male has a black and yellow patterned head with a black eye patch, crown, throat, and nape. He is olive-green above with a yellow breast, white belly, and has yellow sides streaked with black. he has two white wing bars and he has white outer tail feathers. The female has an olive green eye patch and crown.

Juveniles are olive-brown above with dull white throats and dull streaks on its flanks.

Townsend Warblers are mostly found in the Pacific Northwest, from Alaska to Oregon. They are found in moist, dark, conifer forests. Some of these warblers winter in California, but most travel to Mexico and Central America.

The colors of the Townsend warbler help them remain unseen in the coastal forests of Vancouver Island.

Townsend warblers feed high up in the trees by picking off insects and moth larvae from the twigs and leaves. They are able to hover and often will fly out to catch insects. They also eat spiders, invertebrates, spruce budworms and honeydew secreted by scale insects. They eat a lot of problem insects making them good for the forest.

They breed in the spring. The males arrive at the breeding grounds first and claim their territories, they will defend their territories from others by singing. Pairs are formed when the females arrive. He will approach a potential mate with his head down and displays to her by spreading his wings and tail., a gentleman bird. After forming a bond, the female builds a nest of moss, grass, twigs and bark strips. She will lay up to 5 eggs. The male feeds the female while she is incubating the eggs and will remain close to their mates singing softly to her as she sits on the nest. After hatching, the young will leave the nest about 11 days later. Both parents feed and care for the young until they can fend for themselves.

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