#87 Cape May Warbler

25 May

Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)

On breeding grounds, Cape May Warblers are locally common in spruce-fir forests, where they spend most of the day foraging high in the trees. Listen for males singing their high-pitched songs (be aware it’s quite similar to Bay-breasted Warbler’s song). During migration, the species is relatively common in the East, in many wooded habitats. Cape May Warblers breed in forests of spruce and balsam fir, especially in areas where spruce budworms are abundant. Although red, black, and white spruce habitats are all acceptable, these warblers nest only in relatively mature forests, about 25–75 years old (trees usually over 35 feet tall). During migration, they turn up in just about any woods, scrub, or even thicket. Look for them toward the edges, where insects and their larvae are most abundant. Cape May tends to forage in the treetops, in the outer portion of the tree. As their delicate, slightly decurved bill shape might suggest, Cape May Warblers are adroit in probing blossoms for insects and for taking nectar from flowers, which they do aided by their long, curled tongues.

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