[order] Passeriformes | [family] Parulidae | [latin] Dendroica striata | [UK] Blackpoll Warbler | [FR] Paruline rayée | [DE] Kappenwaldsänger | [ES] Chipe Estriado | [IT] Dendroica striata | [NL] Witwangzanger

Witwangzanger determination

copyright: Alexander Grimwade

Medium-sized, quite robust but graceful, usually arboreal Nearctic wood warbler; commonest passerine vagrant from Nearctic and hence epitome of genus in west Palearctic. In all plumages, shows double white wing-bar, white tail-spots, and diagnostic yellow feet. Breeding male has striking black cap, white cheeks and black malar stripe and flank spots; breeding female lacks black and white contrasts, showing streaked greenish crown and ear-coverts. Immature resembles female but most buffier above face and below, where less strongly streaked.

Breeds in northern and north-east Nearctic to near treeline, in mountains as well as lowlands, in coniferous woods, especially spruce, frequently stunted. Also inhabits mixed-wood edges, logged and burned areas, and alder thickets, favouring moist ground. While migrating may be found wherever trees grow, and often also along fences and stone walls in fields and pasture; in autumn even along weedy roadsides. On spring migration, common in orchards and shade trees. Winters in South America in deciduous, rain, and cloud forests up to 3000 m, and in lowlands in gallery forest, second growth, grassy fields with scattered vegetation, and coastal mangroves, foraging also on ground.

Breeds in Alaska and across coniferous forests of northern and central Canada southward in east to eastern New York and Massachusetts. Accidental. Iceland, Britain, Channel Islands, Ireland, France (Ouessant).

They birds are insectivorous, but will opt for berries in winter. They often forage high in trees, and sometimes catch insects while in flight.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 6,300,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 21,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

The nest is made from twigs, bark, weeds, moss and dried grasses and lined with feathers, hair, and roots arranged in a circular direction. The nest is concealed in forks of spruces or dwarf pines and is located anywhere from 1-5 meter above ground. Throughout the months of June and July, 4-5 cream or white eggs, spotted with brown, are laid. Incubation is performed by the female and lasts 11-12 days. Both parents feed the young which leave the nest 11-12 days after hatching. The fully grown young will obtain their full plumage during the next spring migration.

Migrant, with longest average migration among paruline warblers. Winters in north-west South America, south to Guianas, north-west Brazil, and western Bolivia (mostly east of Andes). There is a long-standing dispute whether autumn route continues mainly south across ocean from New England and eastern Canada, or mainly through south-east states and Lesser Antilles; both routes may be important. Route in spring is more westerly than in autumn, passing through southern states on broad front west to Louisiana and eastern Texas, with highest numbers in Florida; direct over-water movements between South America and New England (as in autumn) do not occur. Rare autumn vagrant to Atlantic seaboard of west Pale-arctic. 34 records from Britain and Ireland up to 1995, especially south-west England and southern Ireland, mainly from late September to October.