Warblers are Going Where?


Magnolia Warbler

Boreal birds. Where do they go when they migrate?


Black-throated Green Warbler

They go to a large forest at the top of North America, from interior Alaska all the way across the vast lands of Canada. They are off to breed and pass through our area in the blink of an eye.


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Each day for less than two weeks, birders all across the area are in search of the boreal forest birds. The boreal forest represents one-quarter of the world’s remaining untouched forests with about 80% free of industrial development. The forest has lots of lakes and 25% of the world’s wetlands which are home to 80% of the waterfowl species in the US and Canada. The map below shows the forest and the routes the birds travel. The website of the map used with permission for educational and media use, has great information.


The forests are home to 325 different bird species which is almost half of the species commonly found in the U.S. and Canada.


Yellow warbler

The bird species birders are looking for right now is the colorful warblers. One of the early warblers I saw is 98% reliant on these forests – the Palm Warbler.


Palm warbler

These little warblers are some of the hardest songbirds to photograph. They are small and always moving. Each species has a particular place on the trees to feed, some at the top, some in the middle and some near the lower canopy.


“Some species feed at low and mid levels (Myrtle Warbler), some on the trunk and branches (Black-and-white Warbler), some feed at mid levels near the outside (Black-throated Green Warbler), some at mid level on the inside (Blackburnian Warbler), and others feeding at the uppermost portion of the tree (Cape May and Cerulean Warbler).” Birds Unlimited

Northern Parula-4

Northern Parula

They also prefer brushy areas making seeing the whole bird at one time difficult as they skulk through underbrush. Even though the boreal forest is mostly intact, it is not without mentioning its importance. A few of the birds that live in this forest habitat are in serious decline, so protecting the forest is an important endeavor.


Black and White warbler

Many people think these are feeder or backyard birds, but they don’t generally visit garden feeders in spring. They will eat seed and berries come fall migration though, and may eat suet in spring if offered if insect populations are not plentiful.

I did have a pine warbler visit my flowering pear for insects last year. Warblers are fond of poison ivy too and a huge one grows on my neighbors property. The warblers move about from branch to branch eating many insects.


If you want warblers to visit, your garden must be one they find attractive. If you want warblers on your property, plant willow, oak, cypress, sycamore, pine and even magnolia. They are fond of flowering cherry and crabapple as well.

Plants for fall migration include, honeysuckle, sumac, blackberries, dogwoods, wild grapes, junipers, mulberries and bayberry.


The warblers are not a common backyard visitor but may show up during the migration periods if you have some of their favorite bug-filled plants in the garden.


Blackburnian warbler

Happy May gardening. If you have a large property, add a few plants for those colorful warblers.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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22 Responses to Warblers are Going Where?

  1. aussiebirder says:

    Thanks Donna for a very interesting insight into your Warblers, they appear to behave like many of our small birds, which likewise are a challenge to photograph.

  2. lifehelps says:

    Go birdies! I am not able to look at a map: How far west can these creatures be found?

  3. Your photos of the warblers are gorgeous! Wow!
    I read an article today about the forest in Fort McMurray, Canada is a boreal forest and most likely the fire had to do with climate change. Hopefully we will not lose our boreal forests to climate change because I can’t imagine the impact that that would have on our birds and other wildlife.

    • That is a terrible fire. I have seen it on the net. The birds use these large forests in Canada now, so I imagine the western flyway through Alberta is quite impacted. Since people have been evacuated, I too wonder of all the land creatures. It must be devastating.

  4. alesiablogs says:

    They are such beautiful birds.

  5. swo8 says:

    We do love our birds in the garden. My son can talk to the Turtle Doves. He will call to them then they call back and fly over to him.

  6. I didn’t know about these migrating birds. Your photos are gorgeous!

  7. just love your bed pics!

  8. Good post with great photos and useful information. We occasionally will see a warbler (a black and white and some others I couldn’t ID), usually in the Serviceberry or Crabapples.

  9. I would love for warblers to stop by, but I think they stop by at the lake across the street and by-pass our young woods…I always look forward to your warbler pictures.

    • They mostly are found in forests, so that does not surprise me. A garden needs many flowering trees to get their attention. Once in a while, I will get them here in the crabapple and pear.

  10. debsgarden says:

    Wonderful photos! I have a lot to learn about birding. We see a variety of warblers in our area , including the pine warbler and the cerulean warbler.

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