CANADA WARBLER(Cardellina canadensis)

The Canada warbler is also called ‘necklaced’ warbler owing to a band of black streaks extending down on its yellow breast. This feature is apparent in both sexes, although less in the female. The length of this warbler is around 14 cm (5 in.). The breeding male has grey upper parts and yellow under parts. There is also some black on each side of the throat, and a yellow band between the eye and the bill. There is a white ring around the eye. The bill is grey, and the legs pinkish. Females are similar, although with duller colors.

The Latin genus name for this warbler is different than for other warblers – ‘cardellina’, which means a ‘small cardella’, from Italian dialect that refers to the European goldfinch, but it’s not related to that finch. Warblers are thus called thanks to their generally melodious songs.

This species of warbler is one of the last to reach its breeding grounds in the spring, and one of the first to leave. It stays just long enough to raise one brood. The nest is built near or on the ground. This bird’s main diet includes flying insects and spiders, occasionally worms and snails. In the winter it also feeds on berries.

The Canada warbler prefers a moist or wet habitat in mixed forests, such as cedar swamps and beaver ponds. This preference covers both its’ breeding and wintering grounds. Its distribution, as the name implies, is found mainly in Canada (around 80%), in the southeast part. It also covers the northeast part of the USA, including the Great Lakes region. Its wintering range covers the southern part of Central America and the northern part of South America, including the Andes forest.

Conservation: although the Canada warbler does breed on PEI, it is listed as ‘threatened’ by COSEWIC since 2008, even if it can be fairly common on the island depending on the years. According to that source, one of the main causes of its population decline would be related to loss of habitat in its wintering range, as the forest there has sustained a 90% loss due to agriculture expansion, collection of fuel wood, and cultivation of illegal drugs (coca). Add to this mix the spraying of non-selective herbicides to eliminate those coca plants. Closer to home, the spraying of forests in the Maritimes against the spruce budworm would also be a contributing factor.

Canada warbler, male - photo by William H. Majoros
Canada warbler, male – photo by William H. Majoros
Canada warbler, female - photo by Emmett Hume
Canada warbler, female – photo by Emmett Hume