Kentucky Warbler

Common Name - Kentucky Warbler

Category - Birds

ScientificName - Oporornis formosus

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Aves

Order - Passeriformes

Family - Parulidae

Genus - Oporornis

Species - formosus


Description - Olive green head, back, and wings; bright yellow belly, chest, and chin; bold yellow spectacles with dark crown, undereyes, and sides of neck, forming a dark mask; black bill; short tail; long legs; female similar in coloration but mask not as dark

Size - 5.25 in. (13.3 cm) long

Ecological Role - The Kentucky warbler is primarily a ground-feeding insectivore, feeding mainly on insects. Feral cats, raccoons, skunks and possums prey upon young warblers and the eggs. Nests are frequently parasitized by the brown-headed cowbird by tossing out the warbler eggs and leaving their own to be raised by the warbler.

Fun Facts - The Kentucky warbler is named for the state where it was discovered. They usually stay in dense vegetation, making them difficult to see. This warbler is usually heard before being seen. Because Kentucky warblers need both mature deciduous forests and tropical habitats, loss of these habitats are of special concern to conservationists.

Food - Insects, such as moths, bugs, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, grubs; spiders; occasionally berries


Nest - Made of leaves, lined with grasses and weed stems; built under a log or in a bush and near the ground; nest built by both male and female

Breeding - April – May; males and females chase each other for short distances while both chirp; female may respond with a short song; male defends breeding territory singing as often as every 12 seconds; male guards female, keeping her in view during breeding and nesting season; male feeds female while she sits on nest; males may use same breeding site year after year

Eggs - 3 – 6 per nest; white with brown spots toward larger end of egg; female sits on eggs (incubates); hatch in 12 – 13 days

Habitat - Deciduous forests, mixed, moist woodlands with dense ground vegetation

Kentucky Distribution - Statewide

Life Cycle

Life Span

Life Stage


Seasonal Changes - Neotropical migratory songbird; arrives in Kentucky middle of April; winters south of the United States border, from Mexico to Venezuela


Status - Not listed by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Voice - Song usually two syllables “churree, churree, churree”; call a low “chuck”

Young - Born without feathers and helpless (altricial); female and male feed young; leave nest in 9 – 10 days

What We Can Do - Keep house cats indoors from late March through early September when the warblers are in Kentucky – cats are predators by nature and may attack songbirds. Use bird feeders such as thistle feeders that do not attract cowbirds. Buy products, such as shade grown coffee, that do not require destruction of tropical habitat required by the Kentucky warbler.


Diagnosis and Control

Interesting Facts

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