WORM-EATING WARBLER

WORM-EATING WARBLER(Helmitheros vermivorum) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Worm-eating Warbler adult has a dark brown and white striped head with one dark stripe across the eyes, which are dark. Upper parts are brown-olive and under parts light grey. Pointed bill is grey, legs and feet are pink. Sexes are similar, as well as juveniles. Bird length is around 13 cm (5 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Helmitheros-vermivorum
NAME: ‘Warbler’ means ‘to sing with trills and quavers’. Latin genus name ‘Helmitheros’ stems from a misspelling of ‘helminthos’, a ‘bug’, and ‘theran’, ‘to hunt’, i.e. a ‘bug-hunter’ (Choate). Latin species name repeats the error as it means ‘to eat worms’ (although this warbler does eat caterpillars).
HABITAT: Deciduous forests.
DIET: Insects. Does not feed on earthworms as name would imply.
NESTING: Nest is placed on the ground in a well-hidden location. Three to five white eggs are laid, incubated by female. Nestlings fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeding range located in eastern half of USA south of the Great Lakes region (except Florida). Winters in southern Mexico, the Caribbean and along the coasts of Central America.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worm-eating_warbler – /media/File:Helmitheros_vermivorum_map.s
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ (in the spring) so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Population stable, not at risk.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Swainson’s Warbler
REFERENCES: https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/worm-eating-warbler/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/forest-birds/worm-eating-warbler.html (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/worm-eating-warbler
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worm-eating_warbler
Worm-eating Warbler – Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (.pdf document)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Worm-eating_Warbler/lifehistory
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/319/overview/Worm-eating_Warbler.aspx

Worm-eating Warbler - Belleplain State Forest, NJ - June 2016 - photo by Aaron Maizlich
Worm-eating Warbler – Belleplain State Forest, NJ – June 2016 – photo by Aaron Maizlich
Worm-eating Warbler - Los Angeles, CA - Dec. 2014 - photo by Tom Benson
Worm-eating Warbler – Los Angeles, CA – Dec. 2014 – photo by Tom Benson

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