New World warbler

The New World warblers or wood-warblers are a group of small, often colorful, passerine birds which make up the family Parulidae and are restricted to the New World. They are not closely related to Old World warblers or to Australian warblers. Most are arboreal, but some, like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are primarily terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.

It is likely that this group originated in northern Central America, where the greatest number of species and diversity between them is found. From there they spread north during the interglacial periods, mainly as migrants, returning to the ancestral region in winter. Two genera, Myioborus and Basileuterus, seem to have colonized South America early, perhaps before the two continents were linked, and together constitute most warbler species of that region.

The scientific name for the family, Parulidae, originates from the fact that Linnaeus in 1758 named the northern parula as a tit, Parus americanus, and, as taxonomy developed, the genus name was modified first to Parulus and then to Parula. The family name derives from the name for the genus.

New World warbler
Protonotaria-citrea-002 edit
Prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Parulidae
Wetmore et al., 1947
Species

See text

Synonyms

Mniotiltidae

Description

All the warblers are fairly small. The smallest species is the Lucy's warbler (Oreothlypis luciae), at about 6.5 g and 10.6 cm (4.2 in). Which species is the largest depends upon which are to be included in the family. Traditionally, this was considered to be the yellow-breasted chat, at 18.2 cm (7.2 in). Since this may not be a parulid, the Parkesia waterthrushes, the ovenbird, the russet-crowned warbler and Semper's warbler, all of which can exceed 15 cm (5.9 in) and 21 g, might be considered the largest.

The migratory species tend to lay larger clutches of eggs, typically up to six, since the hazards of their journeys mean that many individuals will have only one chance to breed. In contrast, the laying of two eggs is typical for many tropical species, since the chicks can be provided with better care, and the adults are likely to have further opportunities for reproduction.

Many migratory species, particularly those which breed further north, have distinctive male plumage at least in the breeding season, since males need to reclaim territory and advertise for mates each year. This tendency is particularly marked in the large genus Setophaga (formerly Dendroica). In contrast, resident tropical species, which pair for life, show little if any sexual dimorphism. There are of course exceptions. The Parkesia waterthrushes and ovenbird are strongly migratory, but have identical male and female plumage, whereas the mainly tropical and sedentary yellowthroats are dimorphic. The Granatellus chats also show sexual dimorphism, but due to recent genetic work have been moved into the family Cardinalidae (New World buntings and cardinals).

Systematics

There are a number of issues in the taxonomy and systematics of the Parulidae.

  • The New World warblers are closely related to the tanagers, and some species like the conebills Conirostrum and the bananaquit have been placed into either group by different authorities. Currently, the conebills are normally placed in Thraupidae and the bananaquit in its own family.
  • The green-tailed warbler, yellow-breasted chat, and white-winged warbler are other species about which there have been questions as to whether they should be considered as warblers or tanagers. Current data suggest they are neither, but rather, in their own families.
  • The pardusco, Nephelornis oneilli is also of uncertain affinities.

Genera and species

References

  • Curson, Quinn and Beadle, 1994. New World Warblers. 252 p. ISBN 0-7136-3932-6
  • Dunn, Jon. 1997. A field guide to warblers of North America. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., x, 656 p. : ill. (some col.), col. maps ; 19 cm.
  • Harrison, Hal H. 1984. Wood warblers’ world. New York : Simon and Schuster, 335 p., 24 p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.
  • Lovette, I. J. and E. Bermingham. 2002. What is a wood-warbler? Molecular characterization of a monophyletic Parulidae. The Auk. 119(3): 695–714. PDF fulltext
  • Morse, Douglass H. 1989. American warblers : an ecological and behavioral perspective. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, xii, 406 p. : ill., maps.

External links

American redstart

The American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is a New World warbler. It is unrelated to the Old World Old World redstart.

Black-throated green warbler

The black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

It is 12 cm (4.7 in) long and weighs 9 g (0.32 oz), and has an olive-green crown, a yellow face with olive markings, a thin pointed bill, white wing bars, an olive-green back and pale underparts with black streaks on the flanks. Adult males have a black throat and upper breast; females have a pale throat and black markings on their breast.

The breeding habitat of the black-throated green warbler is coniferous and mixed forests in eastern North America and western Canada and cypress swamps on the southern Atlantic coast. These birds' nests are open cups, which are usually situated close to the trunk of a tree.

These birds migrate to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and southern Florida. One destination is to the Petenes mangroves of the Yucatán. Some birds straggle as far as South America, with the southernmost couple of records coming from Ecuador.

Cape May warbler

The Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina) is a species of New World warbler. It breeds in northern North America. Its breeding range spans all but the westernmost parts of southern Canada, the Great Lakes region, and New England. It is migratory, wintering in the West Indies. This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with two records in Britain as of October 2013. The English name refers to Cape May, New Jersey, where George Ord collected the specimen later described by Alexander Wilson. This species was not recorded again in Cape May for another 100 years, although it is now known as an uncommon migrant there.

Golden-winged warbler

The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a New World warbler. It breeds in southeastern and south-central Canada and the Appalachian Mountains northeastern to north-central United States. The majority (~70%) of the global population breeds in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Manitoba. Golden-winged warbler populations are slowly expanding northwards, but are generally declining across its range, most likely as a result of habitat loss and competition/interbreeding with the very closely related blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera.

Hooded warbler

The hooded warbler (Setophaga citrina) is a New World warbler. It breeds in eastern North America and across the eastern United States and into southernmost Canada (Ontario). It is migratory, wintering in Central America and the West Indies. Hooded warblers are very rare vagrants to western Europe.

Recent genetic research has suggested that the type species of Wilsonia (hooded warbler W. citrina) and of Setophaga (American redstart S. ruticilla) are closely related and should be merged into the same genus. As the name Setophaga (published in 1827) takes priority over Wilsonia (published in 1838), hooded warbler would then be transferred as Setophaga citrina. This change has been accepted by the North American Classification Committee of the American Ornithologists' Union, and the IOC World Bird List. The South American Classification Committee continues to list the bird in the genus Wilsonia.

Kentucky warbler

The Kentucky warbler (Geothlypis formosa) is a small species of New World warbler. It is a sluggish and heavy warbler with a short tail, preferring to spend most of its time on or near the ground, except when singing.

Lucy's warbler

Lucy's warbler (Oreothlypis luciae) is a small New World warbler found in North America. This species ranges includes southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is one of only two warblers to nest in cavities.

Orange-crowned warbler

The orange-crowned warbler (Oreothlypis celata) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Palm warbler

The palm warbler (Setophaga palmarum) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Pine warbler

The pine warbler (Setophaga pinus) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Prothonotary warbler

The prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family. It is the only member of the genus Protonotaria.

Setophaga

Setophaga is a genus of birds of the New World warbler family Parulidae. It contains at least 33 species. The males in breeding plumage are often highly colorful. The Setophaga warblers are an example of adaptive radiation with the various species using different feeding techniques and often feeding in different parts of the same tree.

Most Setophaga species are long-range migrants, wintering in or near the New World tropics and seasonally migrating to breed in North America. In contrast, two Setophaga species, the palm warbler and yellow-rumped warbler, have winter ranges that extend along the Atlantic coast of North America as far north as Nova Scotia.

Supercilium

The supercilium is a plumage feature found on the heads of some bird species. It is a stripe which runs from the base of the bird's beak above its eye, finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird's head. Also known as an "eyebrow", it is distinct from the eyestripe, which is a line which runs across the lores, and continues behind the eye. Where a stripe is present only above the lores, and does not continue behind the eye, it is called a supraloral stripe or simply supraloral. On most species which display a supercilium, it is paler than the adjacent feather tracts.The colour, shape or other features of the supercilium can be useful in bird identification. For example, the supercilium of the dusky warbler, an Old World warbler species, can be used to distinguish it from the very similar Radde's warbler. The dusky warbler's supercilium is sharply demarcated, whitish and narrow in front of the eye, becoming broader and more buffy towards the rear, whereas that of the Radde's warbler is diffusely defined, yellowish and broadest in front of the eye, becoming narrower and more whitish toward the rear. The supercilium of the northern waterthrush, a New World warbler, differs subtly from that of the closely related (and similarly plumaged) Louisiana waterthrush. The Louisiana has a bicoloured supercilium which widens significantly behind the eye, while the northern has an evenly buffy eyebrow which is either the same width throughout or slightly narrower behind the eye.A split supercilium divides above the lores. In some species, such as the jack snipe, the divided stripes reconnect again behind the eye. In others, such as the broad-billed sandpiper, the divided stripes remain separate.A supercilium drop is a feature found on some pipits; it is a pale spot on the rear of the ear-coverts which, although separated from the supercilium by an eyestripe, can appear at some angles to be a downward continuation of the supercilium.

Swainson's warbler

Swainson's warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) is a small species of New World warbler. It is monotypic, the only member of the genus Limnothlypis. Swainson's warbler was named after William Swainson, an English ornithologist.

Tennessee warbler

The Tennessee warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina) is a New World warbler that breeds in eastern North America and winters in southern Central America and northern South America. The genus name Oreothlypis is from Ancient Greek oros, "mountain", and thlupis, an unidentified small bird; thlypis is often used in the scientific names of New World warblers. The specific peregrina is from Latin peregrinus "wanderer".

Townsend's warbler

Townsend's warbler (Setophaga townsendi) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Waterthrush

The waterthrushes are a genus of New World warbler, Parkesia. The genus was split from Seiurus, which previously contained both waterthrush species and the ovenbird. When the genera split, the ovenbird was the only member left in Seiurus (making it a monotypic genus).

Yellow-breasted chat

The yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird found in North America, and is the only member of the family Icteriidae. It was once a member of the New World warbler family, but in 2017 the AOS (American Ornithological Society) moved it to its own family. Its placement is not definitely resolved.

Yellow-throated warbler

The yellow-throated warbler (Setophaga dominica) is a small migratory songbird species breeding in temperate North America. It belongs to the New World warbler family (Parulidae).

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