Kentucky Warbler: Usually Heard but Not Seen

June 19, 2017  •  1 Comment

On my quest of photographing warblers this spring I did have the opportunity to photograph a few seldom seen, or rare birds.  I decided to single out a few species because of their rarity and/or their beauty.  The first photo blog, published on June 4th, was about the Golden-winged Warbler.  Today's photo blog is about the Kentucky Warbler.

The Kentucky Warbler is a small, brightly colored warbler whose loud song can be heard in the undergrowth of eastern deciduous forests.  They spend most of their time on the ground in moist, leafy woodlands searching for insects.  Despite its bright colors, the dark shadows of the forest keeps them well hidden. Kentucky WarblerKentucky WarblerMale


I was so fortunate to find a male Kentucky Warbler on a few occasions and photograph them in the middle of their song.  You can see in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's range map below, northern Pennsylvania nears the end of the Kentucky Warbler's breeding range.  Prior to 1940, the Kentucky Warbler's breeding range ended in southern Pennsylvania but the creation of breeding habitats expanded their range.

Kentucky WarblerKentucky WarblerMale KentuckyWarblerRangeMapKentuckyWarblerRangeMap

The main diet of the Kentucky Warbler consists of various insects including moths, bugs, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, grubs, and spiders, plus a few berries. Kentucky WarblerKentucky WarblerMale


I was able to get some images of this beauty on the edge of some pretty thick shrubs along a large tract of deciduous forest. Kentucky WarblerKentucky WarblerMale


We in Pennsylvania get to enjoy the presence of the Kentucky Warbler for another two months.  They begin to leave their breeding ground in August.

Kentucky WarblerKentucky WarblerMale


The Kentucky Warbler sings a loud springtime song but he usually sings from a secluded perch.  When you hear him sing, it's hard to believe they are such a shy and elusive bird.

Kentucky WarblerKentucky Warbler


Their survival story isn't much different from other beautiful warblers on this planet.  This species is declining and one reason is the clearing of forests.  Loss of habitat is also happening on their wintering grounds.  As forests are broken up into smaller patches, they become vulnerable to cowbird parasitism.  Brown-headed Cowbirds do not raise their own young.  Instead, they lay their eggs in other species' nests allowing them to be raised by the other species.  There are several reasons parasitism hurts the survival of the other species of birds like the Kentucky Warbler.

If you would like to see more photo of Kentucky Warblers, check out my Kentucky Warbler gallery here.

Thanks for looking,



The are so beautiful
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