During migration, this little sunrise-colored bird is fond of the wet lowlands in the area surrounding the banding station. The Blackburnian warbler is partial to tall spruce trees, and may be hard to glimpse as it actively flits around in the forest canopy. Once spotted, though, it is easily identified as the only North American warbler with the distinctive flame-orange throat.
This warbler is one of many species who are dependent upon populations of the spruce budworm, an insect pest of northern forests. The warbler’s numbers fluctuate in the same cycles as outbreaks of the budworm, a favorite food. Warblers who depend on this insect as their major food source have better nesting success when budworm outbreaks are on the rise, and may disappear entirely from an area when no budworms are present. Attempts to eradicate the budworm through logging and use of insecticides have a direct negative impact on warbler populations.
The Blackburnian warbler was named in honor of Anna Blackburne, an 18-century naturalist whose highly regarded collection formed the basis for her own small museum—quite an accomplishment for a woman of science at that time.
Photo: Robert Royse