This visual knockout is the only member of its species. The name Mniotilta means “moss plucking,” which describes this bird’s foraging technique, unique among warblers: it creeps over the bark of a tree, using its curved bill to probe for insects. The black-and-white warbler has extended hind toes and claws which allow it to move up, down, and all around on tree bark, behavior which led to the bird’s original name, “black-and-white creeper.”
This warbler prefers a habitat that includes large trees, as this type of environment offers dead leaves and plant growth low to the ground for foraging and nesting. It especially likes hillsides and swampy areas, both of which exist in the area around the banding station. Overall populations are steady, but local declines have occurred in areas where forest fragmentation is evident.
The distinctive variegation of the feathers is present in both the male and female year-round, providing for an exciting show during breeding season, when courtship rituals include vibrant displays of plumage.
Photo: David Speiser, lilibirds.com