The Blackburnian warbler has a fiery orange throat, broad white wing patch, and a triangular ear patch—all quite vivid on adult males. Female and immature males have a more pale throat, and immature females even more pale. An orange or yellow forehead stripe is distinct in all males, less so in females.
The Blackburnian’s summer breeding range spreads from New England and maritime Canada west through the Great Lakes to Saskatchewan and south along the Appalachians. In autumn they head south, often getting started in late August.
By early October the majority of them have reached wintering grounds in Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and the northwestern corner of Brazil.
Migrants are generally found in hardwood, softwood, and mixed forests, with additional sightings along coasts and lakeshores in scrub and bayberry.
Breeding habitat varies widely. Generally it includes tall, mature trees—conifers such as eastern hemlock, white spruce, red spruce, and balsam fir and deciduous species such as American beech, sugar maple, and yellow birch. When scanning for Blackburnians, set your sights high—they generally stay in the higher branches.
Hear a Blackburnian Warbler:
Listen for two songs: a high, thin zip zip zip titi tseeeeee, ending on a high upslurred note, or a less musical teetsa teetsa teetsa teetsa zizizizizi, which drops at the end.