Birds Vol 2 #2 – The Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus) ©USFWS

Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus) ©USFWS

The Kentucky Warbler

Although this bird is called the Kentucky Warbler, we must not think he visits that state alone.

We find him all over eastern North America. And a beautiful bird he is.

As his name tells you he is one of a family of Warblers.

I told you somewhere else that the Finches are the largest family of birds. Next to them come the Warblers.

Turn back now and see how many Warblers have been pictured so far.

See if you can tell what things group them as a family. Notice their bills and feet.

This bird is usually found in the dense woods, especially where there are streams of water.

He is a good singer, and his song is very different from that of any of the other Warblers.

I once watched one of these birds—olive-green above and yellow beneath. His mate was on a nest near by and he was entertaining her with his song.

He kept it up over two hours, stopping only a few seconds between his songs. When I reached the spot with my field-glass I was attracted by his peculiar song. I don’t know how long he had been singing. I stayed and spent two hours with him and he showed no signs of stopping. He may be singing yet. I hope he is.

You see him here perched on a granite cliff. I suppose his nest is near by.

He makes it of twigs and rootlets, with several thicknesses of leaves. It is neatly lined with fine rootlets and you will always find it on or near the ground.

In the September and October number of “Birds” you will find several Warblers and Finches. Try to keep track of them and may be you can do as many others have done—tell the names of new birds that come along by their pictures which you have seen in “Birds.”

From col. F. M. Woodruff.



ETWEEN sixty and seventy warblers are described by Davie in his “Nests and Eggs of North American Birds,” and the Kentucky Warbler is recognized as one of the most beautiful of the number, in its manners almost the counterpart of the Golden Crowned Thrush (soon to delight the eyes of the readers of Birds), though it is altogether a more conspicuous bird, both on account of its brilliant plumage and greater activity, the males being, during the season of nesting, very pugnacious, continually chasing one another about the woods. It lives near the ground, making its artfully concealed nest among the low herbage and feeding in the undergrowth, the male singing from some old log or low bush, his song recalling that of the Cardinal, though much weaker.

The ordinary note is a soft schip, somewhat like the common call of the Pewee. Considering its great abundance, says an observer, the nest of this charmer is very difficult to find; the female, he thought, must slyly leave the nest at the approach of an intruder, running beneath the herbage until a considerable distance from the nest, when, joined by her mate, the pair by their evident anxiety mislead the stranger as to its location.

It has been declared that no group of birds better deserves the epithet “pretty” than the Warblers. Tanagers are splendid, Humming Birds refulgent, others brilliant, gaudy, or magnificent, but Warblers alone are pretty.

The Warblers are migratory birds, the majority of them passing rapidly across the United States in spring on the way to their northern nesting grounds, and in autumn to their winter residence within the tropics. When the apple trees bloom they revel among the flowers, vieing in activity and numbers with the bees; “now probing the recesses of a blossom for an insect, then darting to another, where, poised daintily upon a slender twig, or suspended from it, they explore hastily but carefully for another morsel. Every movement is the personification of nervous activity, as if the time for their journey was short; as, indeed, appears to be the case, for two or three days at most suffice some species in a single locality.”

We recently saw a letter from a gentleman living at Lake Geneva, in which he referred with enthusiasm to Birds, because it had enabled him to identify a bird which he had often seen in the apple trees among the blossoms, particularly the present season, with which he was unacquainted by name. It was the Orchard Oriole, and he was glad to have a directory of nature which would enable him to add to his knowledge and correct errors of observation. The idea is a capitol one, and the beautiful Kentucky Warbler, unknown to many who see it often, may be recognized in the same way by residents of southern Indiana and Illinois, Kansas, some localities in Ohio, particularly in the southwestern portion, in parts of New York and New Jersey, in the District of Columbia, and in North Carolina. It has not heretofore been possible, even with the best painted specimens of birds in the hand, to satisfactorily identify the pretty creatures, but with Birds as a companion, which may readily be consulted, the student cannot be led into error.

Lee’s Addition:

I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. (Psalms 50:11 ESV)

The Kentucky Warbler is in the New World Warblers – Parulidae Family. At present their are 115 species that make up this family. Warblers are confusing for me to figure out at times. Number 1, I don’t see them often, and then they are passing through on their migration south. They are neat birds and I always enjoy seeing them. Mostly here I see the Yellow-rumps and the Black-and-white occasionally.

The Kentucky Warbler, is a sluggish and heavy warbler with a short tail, preferring to spend most of its time on or near the ground, except when singing.

Kentucky Warbler song by Chris Parrish and call by Andrew Spencer from

They are only about 5-6 inches long. They migrate to the Yucatan Peninsula and many of the Caribbean Islands. That is after they make a non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. The Lord has given them quite a flying ability to do that.


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Red Breasted Merganser

The Previous Article – The Sora Rail

Wordless Birds


Kentucky Warbler – Wikipedia

Kentucky Warbler – All About Birds

New World Warblers – Parulidae Family


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