Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor)

Prairie Warbler

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Parulidae | [latin] Dendroica discolor | [UK] Prairie Warbler | [FR] Sylvette des pres | [DE] Rostscheitel-Waldsanger | [ES] Reinita Galana | [NL] Prairiezanger


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Dendroica discolor NA e, se USA West Indies
Dendroica discolor discolor
Dendroica discolor paludicola

Physical charateristics

This warbler bobs its tail (so does Palm Warbler); underparts yellow; black stripes confined to sides. Two black face marks,
one through the eye, one below. At close range, chestnut marks may be seen on back of male (reduced in female).

Listen to the sound of Prairie Warbler

[audio: Warbler.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 19 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 11 cm
incubation min.: 9 days incubation max.: 10 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : East, Southeast USA


Brushy slashings, bushy pastures, low pines.
Breeds in dry old clearings, edges of forest, and sandy pine barrens with undergrowth of scrub oaks, especially on slopes and ridges. Likes thick second growth of hickory, dogwood, or laurel with blackberry vines. In Florida, breeds in mangrove swamps. F
ound in flat, grassy lands among scattered trees in the South in winter.


Some males have more than one mate. Often breeds in loose colonies. Males return year after year to the same breeding territory, but females often do not. During courtship, male performs slow butterfly-like display flights; also chases female.
Nest: Placed usually in a tree (such as pine, cedar, sweet gum, oak, elm), 1-
45′ above the ground. In coastal Florida, usually in mangroves. Nest (built by female) an open cup, made of densely felted plant materials such as plant down and lined with animal hair.
Eggs: 4, sometimes 3-5. Off-white, with brown spots concentrated at larger end. Incubated by female for usually 12 (11-14) days. Commonly parasitized by cowbirds.
Young: Fed by both parents; leave the nest at 8-11 days. Fledglings may be divided by parents, each adult caring for part of brood for 40-50 days until young are independent. Often 2 broods per season.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. Feeds on many insects including caterpillars, moths, tree crickets,
lacewings, true bugs, beetles, aphids, leafhoppers, grasshoppers; also spiders and millipedes. Also eats a few berries, and occasionally oozing sap. Nestlings are fed mostly caterpillars.
Forages mainly by gleaning insects while hopping on twigs. Also catches flying insects in midair, and takes insects from undersides of leaves (and spiders from their webs) while hovering. Will also feed occasionally by hanging upside down from branch tips
or by flying down to take insects from ground.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Prairie Warbler status Least Concern


Eastern North America. Winters Florida to Nicaragua. In West, a very rare but regular fall vagrant in California. Accidental in Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico. Migration:
Some Florida birds may be permanent residents. In much of range, southward migration begins by late summer, but a few birds may linger quite late in fall.

Distribution map

Prairie Warbler distribution range map

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