Virginia’s Warblers

Virginia’s Warbler, Vermivora virginiae, is a species of New World warbler.

Despite what its name may suggest, Virginia’s warbler is not actually named after the American State of Virginia, which makes sense as the birds range only reaches as far east as the state of Texas. The bird’s common eastern range is central and southern mountains of Colorado, central Wyoming, and central and western New Mexico. The bird was named for Virginia Anderson, the wife of an army surgeon who discovered the bird at Fort Burgwyn, New Mexico, in 1858. When Spencer Fullerton Baird of the Smithsonian Institute fully described the bird for science in 1860 he honored the wishes of the warbler’s discoverer and designated Virginia to be both the birds common and scientific name.

Virginia's Warbler

Virginia’s warbler is a small bird, only 4 to 4½ inches in length. It is mainly gray in color, with a lighter colored under-belly and a white eye ring. The rump and undertail coverts are yellow. Male’s also have a yellow patch on their breast and a red cap, both of which are lacking in female and immature birds. Virginia’s warbler can be easily mistaken for the Colima Warbler, but it is smaller and has a more yellow rump.

Life history

Virginia’s warbler is common in dense oak and pinyon woodlands and brushy streamside hills at altitudes ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 feet. It summers in the south-western United States and will migrate as far south as Belize during the winter, as well as stopping in several Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Nests are built on the ground, hidden among dead leaves and tufts of grass at the base of a shrub or young tree. The nest is cup-shaped and constructed from moss, grass, strips of bark, and roots. The female will lay between 3 to 5 eggs, which are white in color and dotted with fine brown speckles. Young are attended to by both sexes, but incubation period and other nesting habits are mostly unknown.

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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