PALM WARBLER – (Setophaga palmarum)
The Palm Warbler has a rusty crown and a yellow eyebrow. The upper parts are mostly brown. They are around 13 cm (5 in.) long. The under parts are yellow with rusty brown streaks on the sides. Sexes are similar.
In spite of its name, this species is actually one that breeds almost the furthest north in Canada’s boreal forests for a warbler. It was given the name ‘Palm’ because the first specimen was found in its wintering area in the Caribbean. Warblers are thus called thanks to their generally melodious songs. The Latin genus name ‘Setophaga’ is from Greek and means ‘to eat moths’.
As opposed to most warblers, the palm warbler spends most of its time on the ground foraging for insects. During migration and on its wintering grounds, it will also eat seeds and berries. It is easy to distinguish because it’s one of the few warblers constantly bobbing its tail.
The palm warbler breeds on PEI, and its occurrence on the island varies from rare to uncommon to fairly common in spring, summer and fall, depending on the years. There has also been a hypothetical sighting of this bird species on PEI in the winter. It is not present in the western parts of Canada or the USA.
Conservation: numbers of this species appear to be stable, although since all its breeding population inhabits Canada’s boreal forests, it is vulnerable to pollution from natural resources extraction industries. During migration it is one of the most often killed at lighted buildings.