Canada Warbler
Wilsonia canadensis

 by John Severino

Wilsonia canadensis, also known as the Canada Warbler is a member of the Parulidae (Wood-warbler) Family.  Wood-warblers are active and often brightly colored songbirds that range in size from small to medium.  There are about 116 species in 26 genera world-wide.  The Canada Warbler lives mostly in Canada, however it can be found in temperate regions of the northeastern United States as well.  The Canada Warbler’s habitat consists of old, cool, moist woodlands with a lot of undergrowth.

The Canada Warbler averages about 4.75 inches in length from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail.  The male has a moderately long tail and distinctive black streaks across a yellow throat and breast.  Upperparts are slate gray with a blacker crown and cheek.  The eye is surrounded by a bold yellow ring followed by a black triangular patch.  Wing bars are absent in the Canada Warbler.  The female shares the same characteristics, however her upperparts are a little less distinct. 

The Canada Warbler is very active.  It hops along the branches while moving through thick vegetation.  Their diet consists of flying insects such as flies, mosquitoes, moths and beetles.  They eat small caterpillars and spiders as well.  Canada Warblers feed on nectar and small fruits both during winter and during migration because insects are scarce during these times.  They tend to stay close to the ground except when migrating.  This makes it easy for catching and eating food. 

The Canada Warbler prefers wet, mossy areas within forests, among ferns, stumps, and fallen logs, for nests.  They are typically built within a recessed hole of an upturned tree root mass or a rotting tree stump.  A dense nest site cover appears to be an important habitat requirement for the protection of their young.  The nest is usually built on or just above the ground from dead leaves and grass.  Only the female incubates, however, both parents feed their young.

Canada Warblers migrate long distances leaving their North American breeding range.  They travel to northern South America, east of the Andes, to Venezuela, Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, and northern Brazil.  They take specific routes to get to their destinations, and rarely retrace the same routes on their way back.  Most travel in flocks during migration. 

Written spring 2004, as a service learning project for Dr. Gary Coté's Biology 102 class at Radford University.  Copyright Pathways for Radford.

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