WILSON’S WARBLER – (Cardellina pusilla)
The Wilson’s warbler is one of the smallest warblers at around 10 cm (4 in.) long, including a long tail which they often twitch. They are bright yellow with a black cap (or crown) in the breeding male, which distinguishes it from the slightly larger yellow warbler. The female looks similar except for the black cap, which is either faded or absent.
The English name ‘Wilson’s’ refers to the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson, who first described this bird. After being moved into various classifications over the decades, the bird’s identity ended up in the Cardellina genus as opposed to the Setophaga genus for other warblers. Warblers are thus called thanks to their generally melodious songs. The Latin word ‘Cardellina’ refers to the European goldfinch, which warblers are not related to. The Latin species name ‘pusilla’ means ‘very small’.
This warbler will nest on or near the ground in a well camouflaged small depression. Its diet is made of insects that it catches on the fly by hovering or picks on the leaves. This behavior translates into a high amount of activity in the under story from that bird.
The Wilson’s warbler doesn’t breed in PEI. The bird is actually a rare occurrence on the island, as the Maritimes are situated at the southernmost end of its summer range. It breeds throughout Canada and Alaska near streams where thickets of willows and alders grow, or near lakes in open woodlands. This bird migrates mainly to Mexico and Central America for the winter.