Magnolia WarblerDendroica magnolia (Wilson)
Status Common in summer. Breeds. This is one of our commonest warblers. It generally appears before mid-May (average 10 May, earliest 26 April), but the main arrival is later. In summer it is seldom seen about towns and villages or far from wooded areas, its favourite habitat being regions of second growth or bushy pasturelands with conifers. Peak movements are evident through September, but stragglers are routine (average 18 October, latest 5 November). An individual on the Halifax West Christmas Bird Count on 23 December 1973 (D. Welsh) is our only early winter record.
Description Length: 12.5-13 cm. Adult male: Crown bluish gray; line over eye, two wing bars, and prominent patches across middle of tail white; cheek, nape, and end of tail black; rump yellow; back black, feathers bordered with olive-green; throat yellow; rest of underparts yellow, boldly striped with black. Adult female: Similar but colours subdued and stripes on underparts greatly reduced.
Breeding Nest: Made of fine twigs and weed stems, with a lining of delicate grasses or fine black rootlets; it is not compact and has a rough exterior but is well built and exceedingly artistic. It is saddled on the limb of a small conifer and usually well out from the trunk, effectively concealed by a bough immediately above it. Favoured locations are in woodland pastures studded with new-growth evergreens and bordered by heavier woods, rather than in well-shaded woods. Eggs: 4-5, usually 4; white, beautifully marked with large blotches of various shades and densities of cinnamon, chiefly around the larger end. Nest construction begins about the first week of June and fresh sets have been found as early as 8 June. Of nine nests examined, six contained four eggs, and three held five; all were built at heights of 1-2 m. Harry Brennan, writing from Springville, Pictou County, tells of a fully constructed nest found on 8 June in a small spruce about half a metre from the ground that held five eggs seven days later.
Range Breeds from west-central Mackenzie Valley, central Manitoba, central Quebec, and Newfoundland, south to Virginia in the mountains, central Michigan, central Saskatchewan and central British Columbia. Winters from southern Mexico to Panama.
Remarks The Magnolia Warbler is a sluggish, slow-moving warbler usually found moving about at low heights rather than among the treetops. Though beautifully coloured and a delight to the eye, its song is mediocre: a pleasing little melody translated as wisha-wisha-wisha, with the accent on the first syllable.
It is one of three Nova Scotia warblers with a bright yellow rump conspicuous in both sexes and in all plumages. Only the Yellow-rumped and Cape May Warblers share this characteristic. From these it is distinguished by the black band on the end of its otherwise chiefly white tail.
It is called "Magnolia" because the bird from which the species was first described happened to be collected from a magnolia tree.
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