While enjoying my morning tea on the deck I have been hearing a soft musical trill in the field behind my house. I have come to discover this to be the song of the Pine Warbler. Their song is similar to the Chipping Sparrow but not as long and slightly richer. I have also been fortunate to be able to observe this warbler. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a different bird enjoying the Mill Creek Insect and Nut suet that I put out for the regular attendees, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. After doing some research I have learned that Pine Warblers are the only warblers who will come to a feeder, seeking out suet or soft food. Lucky me!
The Pine Warbler is larger than most warblers measuring 5.5 inches. Not as striking in colour as other warblers, the male has a soft yellow belly and white underparts, an olive back, grey wings with two white wing bars, a pale stripe by its eye, and a long sharp beak. The females are similar but a little duller. Like other warblers, their colour changes in the fall to a brownish hue and, as a result, have been included in the UFO category… Unidentified Feathered Objects.
This warbler has been aptly named as it is seldom far from Pine Trees and rarely seen in other habitats except during migration. When migrating they can be seed in mixed woodlands, orchards and thickets. Pine Warblers are mostly found in the eastern pine forests of North America. Unlike other warblers, their winter range includes much of its breeding grounds. They don’t migrate further south from the US and have been known to over winter in southern Ontario. Pine Warblers will also sing all year except on extremely cold winter days.
As expected, Pine Warblers build their nest high in Pine trees, 30 to 50 feet above the ground. The nest is constructed at the tip of a horizontal branch hidden by pine needles. The female builds the nest with grasses, weed stems, pine needles, twigs and spider webs and lines it with feathers. Three to five of white eggs speckled with brown spots are incubated by both parents for 10 days. The nestlings are fed by both adults and will fledge 10 days later. Pine Warblers can have 2-3 broods per year. The oldest recorded Pine Warbler was 7 years, 10 months.
Pine Warblers are leisurely diners moving slowly through the trees or on the garden floor. Their diet consists mostly of insects and spiders, moths, beetles, grasshoppers and sometimes berries. When insects aren’t available they will eat seeds of grass, weeds and pine. Be sure to keep your eye on the suet feeders in your yard. You may be able to get a close up view of the Pine Warbler.
Author – Jane Paradis