This striking resident of North American forests is a “signature” species of eastern hardwood forests, meaning that it is a characteristic bird to be found in Pennsylvania’s woodlands. During the breeding season the hooded warbler prefers dense, brushy growth in mature forests, a habitat that is abundant around the banding station.
The song of the male hooded warbler is unique to each bird, and the birds are able to remember their neighbors’ songs from year to year. They also use the songs to associate each other with a specific location. It is thought that the ability to identify potential rivals in this way may help the birds reduce the number of battles for territory during the breeding season; if they can recognize a neighbor who has his own territory, the males can conserve their energy for driving off other males whose songs they don't recognize.
Color and markings play a big part in this bird's story. The hooded warbler has the characteristic behavior of flicking or fanning the tail to display white spots on the outer tail feathers. The impressive "hood" frames the big eyes, which are among the largest in the warbler world. And, of course, the word citrina in its scientific name is Latin for “yellow.”.