A Pine Warbler in my Toronto backyard

A Pine Warbler in my Toronto backyard

pine warbler in apple tree_toronto_ontario

One of the first migrating warblers to drop by our backyard one spring was a Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus), and it hung about our property for a good week and a half.  They are one of the earliest spring migrants having departed their wintering grounds in late February.  It was such a pleasure to see its little burst of colour amid all the bare branches of our trees and shrubs.  The leaves were so late emerging this year.

pine warbler on apple tree_toronto_ontario

Although Pine Warblers prefer a habitat with pine trees during nesting season, during migration, they are happy to forage in a variety of deciduous vegetation.  Insects are its favorite food, but it eats many pine seeds, wild fruits and berries if insects are in short supply.

pine warbler at birdfeeder in toronto_ontario

In our garden, the Warbler was also seen feeding at the nyjer feeder and the squirrel-proof feeder where we offer an assortment of nuts and seeds.  Pine Warblers are the only wood warbler known to eat large quantities of seeds.  With their sturdy bill, they are able to retrieve the seeds from pine cones and prod clumps of pine needles for insects.  Their breeding habitats always include some species of pine trees in areas across eastern North America.

pine warbler on deck_toronto_ontario

Pine Warblers are hefty warblers with long tails that appear to have a central notch.  The males have yellowish olive green backs, two white wing bars on grey wings, and a yellow throat, breast and upper abdomen all of which are faintly streaked with olive.  Their lower abdomen and under tail coverts are white.  When this Pine Warbler approached the patio door with a look of curiosity on its face, I thought the bird looked like it was wearing spectacles because of the pale yellow eye-rings.

pine warbler on deck_toronto_ontario 2

Pine Warblers, as their name suggests, spend most of their time in pine trees either in pine forests or mixed woodlands where pine are mixed in.  When these little yellow warblers move about pine trees, they usually keep to the upper branches so they are seldom seen while they forage for food .

pine warbler sits in apple tree_toronto_ontario

Bob and I had begun to get our hopes up that maybe, just maybe, the Pine Warbler was going to nest in the area.  We had seen what we thought was a female but could never get a photo or positive id.  The fact that there is a medium-sized pine tree next door in our neighbour’s yard meant that the warblers’ needs could be met.   But despite our babbling water fountain and feeding stations, it would seem that the Pine Warbler has moved on.  It was a treat while it stayed.

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