A Black-and-white Warbler visits our Toronto backyard

A Black-and-white Warbler visits our Toronto backyard


My husband, Bob, while in the process of putting bird food into the feeders,  happened to notice a new visitor to our backyard…a Black-and-White Warbler (Mniotilta varia), a type of Wood Warbler.


With camera in hand, I had a hard time locating the little bird on the trunk of our neighbour’s spruce tree as it was foraging for insects in behind some short sprouts of new growth.


The warbler moved quite quickly from one location to another, searching for tidbits in our birch trees, amongst the branches of our apple trees, and in crevices of our fence.  It behaved, for all the world, like a nuthatch in its movements and foraging efforts, creeping up and down the tree trunks, hence its old name, Black-and-white Creeper.


No other warblers creep along tree trunks and branches in search of food, but the distinctive white stripe down the middle of the black crown is a definitive way of distinguishing this bird from other black-and-white warblers such as the Black-throated Grey and Blackpoll.


As the warbler crept round the base of the birch tree, it afforded an excellent view of the delicate colouring on the underside of the tail and abdomen.  It certainly aids its camouflage on the black and white bark of the tree.


The Black-and-white Warbler seemed to recognize an old chair in my garden as the piece of garden art that it is given the network of cobwebs glistening in the sun.  Perhaps it snatched up some insect before it became ensnared in the sticky web.


I believe this Black-and-white Warbler is an adult female given that the white sides show signs of buff-coloured feathers.  A male would be more boldly striped above and below, except for the plain white belly.


The Black-and-white Warbler is the only member of the genus Mniotilta, which means “moss plucking”.  On each of their feet, these warblers have an unusually long hind toe and claw that enables them to move securely on the surface of tree bark.


We were graced with the presence of this small warbler in our garden for close to a half hour, and it didn’t seem at all to mind the hubbub of activity going on in neighbouring yards.  I’m sure from Toronto, it will be making its way south, but I wonder just how far it will have to travel.  Black-and-white Warblers winter anywhere between northern Mexico to as far south as Northern Venezuela and Colombia.  Travel safe little one!

You May Also Like:


Yellow-Crowned Night Heron At Colonel Samuel Smith Park


Least Bittern Juvenile At Colonel Samuel Smith Park


A Flutter of Monarch Butterflies At Toronto Shoreline


Black-Crowned Night Herons At Tommy Thompson Park


Great Blue Heron Chicks in their nest at Oxtongue Lake


A Long-eared Owl at Tommy Thompson Park


Glossy Ibis sighted in Whitby, Ontario


A Black-backed woodpecker in Algonquin Provincial Park


Among the Winged Magic at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Mexico


Our South African Journey to Kruger National Park


Visiting Machu Picchu, Our Long Time Dream


Our Visit To The Floating Islands On Lake Titicaca


Exploring The Cliff Dwellings At Mesa Verde National Park


Drombeg Stone Circle,  Our Visit To The Druid’s Altar


Red foxes wintering in Algonquin Provincial Park


Black Bear Mom And Cubs Eat Blueberries In Algonquin Park


Eastern Screech Owl: A Master of Disguise In Burlington, Ontario


Cow Moose and Calf in Algonquin Provincial Park

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

One comment

feedback welcome