Birds – Black-throated Green Warbler

(Dendroica virens) Wood Warbler family

Length—5 inches. Over an inch smaller than the English sparrow.

Male—Back and crown of head bright yellowish olive-green. Forehead, band over eye, cheeks, and sides of neck rich yellow. Throat, upper breast, and stripe along sides black. Underneath yellowish white. Wings and tail brownish olive, the former with two white bars, the latter with much white in outer quills. In autumn, plumage resembling the female’s.

Female—Similar ; chin yellowish ; throat and breast dusky, the black being mixed with yellowish.

Range—Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Central America and Mexico. Nests north of Illinois and New York. Winters in tropics.

Migrations—May. October. Common summer resident north of New Jersey.

There can be little difficulty in naming a bird so brilliantly and distinctly marked as this green, gold, and black warbler, that lifts up a few pure, sweet, tender notes, loud enough to attract attention when he visits the garden. “See-see, see-saw,” he sings, but there is a tone of anxiety betrayed in the simple, sylvan strain that always seems as if the bird needed reassuring, possibly due to the rising inflection, like an interrogative, of the last notes.

However abundant about our homes during the migrations, this warbler, true to the family instinct, retreats to the woods to nest—not always so far away as Canada, the nesting ground of most warblers, for in many Northern States the bird is commonly found throughout the summer. Doubtless it prefers tall ever-green trees for its mossy, grassy nest; but it is not always particular, so that the tree be a tall one with a convenient fork in an upper branch.

Early in September increased numbers emerge from the woods, the plumage of the male being less brilliant than when we saw it last, as if the family cares of the summer had proved too taxing. For nearly a month longer they hunt incessantly, with much flitting about the leaves and twigs at the ends of branches in the shrubbery and evergreens, for the tiny insects that the warblers must devour by the million during their all too brief visit.