What attracts warblers?

vegangirl(z6 VA)July 30, 2003

I would like to attract more warblers and other insect-eating birds to our property. We have a variety of habitats-creek, meadow, wet meadow, woods, brushy areas, etc. We have nesting yellow warblers, Northern yellowthroats, American redstarts. Someone said that planting more flowering trees to attract more insects would work. Has anyone had experience with this or other method of attracting warblers?

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jabee

Here's a link to an article entitled "Attracting Warblers to your Backyard". The National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat program should have more information for you specific area. Your local Audubon Society may also have a list of native plants which will do the job.

Luckily for you the national headquarters of the federation is right there in Virginia. Try contacting;

Mid-Atlantic Region
Sandy Walter
National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190
Phone: 703-438-6000
Fax: 703-438-6035

Happy birding- Jane Brunclik, Texas Havbitat Steward NWF

Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Birds Forever

    Bookmark   July 30, 2003 at 10:09PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

You are already off to a better start than most with what you have! Planting flowering trees will definitely get more warblers to your yard during the spring migration - I don't know if it will also keep them, but if you have a well planted yard full of natives and a water source, you're going to attract them and maybe keep them. Remember though, that many warblers don't nest as far south as you are, but just pass through in spring and fall.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 10:06AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Thanks, txspice, for the interesting article link. The article had some good tips. I'm going to call the NWF too and see what information they have.

And jillmcm, I appreciate the encourageing words:) I would like to have more nesting species but would be happy with more migrants too!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 11:50AM
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water_daddy(VA)

Riparian habitat is key. Try to promote or reintroduce native plants.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 1:31PM
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john_mo(z5/6)

Migrating warblers use a wide range of mostly woodland habitats. In my expereince showy 'flowering' trees such as dogwood or viburnums do not necessarily attract more warblers. Remember, ALL broadleaf trees are flowering trees! High numbers and high species diversity of migrating warblers are likely to occur in whatever large trees that bloom at the time of peak migration, including (in my area) such non-showy bloomers as oaks, elms, and honey locusts.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 3:12PM
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Tern(z4 MN)

Water and brushy areas of native species are what has worked best to attract migrating warblers to my yard. I see almost all of them in the shrubs near the pond. I'm dubious of the Wild Birds Forever site's suggestion that suet will attract warblers; I have plenty of suet out and have never seen a warbler at it (though the woodpeckers and chickadees love it). But maybe other people have different experiences.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2003 at 8:42PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Another key for attracting migrants is to provide edge conditions, like that between forest and meadow or meadow and wetter areas. These are the hotbeds of activity during migration. If you don't think you're seeing a lot of warblers, remember to LOOK UP - a lot of these guys hang out way up high in the trees and are easily missed if you don't specifically scan the tree tops (obviously, harder to do once things leaf out). Also, try to learn some of the songs of the warblers you think should be coming through - you can often hear them more easily than see them.

We were just fortunate enough to have trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, where we saw the ubiquitous yellow-rumped warbler (yellow butts, in our birding vocabulary) and Wilson's warbler as well.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2003 at 8:58PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I have 2 flowering trees on my wish list--fringetree and Carolina silverbell. The trees along the creek are mostly sugar and red maples, black locust, wild black cherry, and ironwood. Understory includes spicebush, elderberry, wild roses, a wild dogwood with flat clusters of white flowers and blue berries, and saplings of the larger trees. We do have several edges--woods and meadow, meadow and lawn, lawn and creek bank (which has a fairly large buffer strip on each side then lawn on each side of the buffer strip). All the fence rows are full of stuff and one of the meadows has "islands" of brushy growth and small trees. It just seems to me that I should be seeing and hearing many more warblers than I do. I am familiar with many of the calls of migrating warblers because of having spent 9 springs and summers in Maine where they nested. And I do hear some but not as many as you'd think with such a varied habitat.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2003 at 7:25AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I forgot to mention that there are lots of wild grapevines along the creek and the edge of the woods too.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2003 at 7:28AM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Vegangirl -

When are you looking for the warblers? They may be coming through at a different time than you expect - late April through early June will be the peak time to see them, perhaps even earlier depending on where you are in VA. It is also possible that your yard, tempting though it is, just isn't near a major flyway. If the birds don't come through your area, you aren't going to be able to attract them. Try talking to some local expert birders - they can probably tell you what to expect in your area and when.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2003 at 9:11AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I'm looking for them during spring migration. Usually mid May is peak for most species in this area with some coming earlier and later of course. Maybe I'm not near a major flyway:( There is a wildlife reserve about an hour's drive away that we try to go to every spring around Mother's Day for warblers and other migrants. We've often been surrounded by dozens of warblers of many species at eye level and that's what I was hoping to have here at home by creating the proper habitat. It's an area of mt ridges and hollows with a creek similar to here. Maybe it's the flyway thing. Sigh!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2003 at 1:26PM
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roseunhip(z5b QC)

We live in a large city suburbs, with a little-below-average amount of green and abandonned spaces near our home. I attracted several "mid-height" tree warbler species during the May migrations with one large apple tree and also a mature Wild red Cherry (Prunus pensylvanicum), coinciding as it does here, often, with these trees' flowering. A well grown (tutored) specimen of this cherry tree in full blossom, on a sunny morning, when visited by various warblers (and also waxwings, that seem to enjoy eating the petals sometimes!) is pure enchantment! As for the apple tree, the warblers actually often hang around in it late after the flowering. Maybe the fact that we do absolutely nothing to control the aphids in it helps attracting them.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2003 at 4:13PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

We saw a black-and-white warbler foraging on the bark of a wild cherry tree a few days ago! I suppose that means there is a nesting pair nearby. We don't use pesticides either. I don't want to risk hurting the birds:) I'll keep improving the habitat and keep looking up:)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2003 at 8:07PM
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Bullnettle(z8b TX)

I can only tell you that yellow-rumped warblers and kinglets started wintering here after I planted wax myrtle. They love the berries. Wax myrtles have male and female plants; that needs to be kept in mind if you get them.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2003 at 12:21PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I wonder if wax myrtle is hardy in zone 6? I'll have to check on that. Thanks for the idea.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2003 at 8:11PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Not sure exactly what the Warblers like besides shruby areas to find insects and a water source. I have been noticing warblers in my yard for the past four days, after being absent most of the summer. I usually have lots of them in the Spring and Fall migrations.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2003 at 12:57PM
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roseunhip(z5b QC)

I believe some warblers species are not interested in shruby areas but stick mainly to the upper stories of average to larger trees, like some sp. of vireos too.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2003 at 2:03PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

This seems very early to me for the start of Fall migration. But I am seeing lots of yellowish Warblers the past week or so. They seem to hang out looking for bugs in the shrubs and taller flowers like my Joe Pye Weed.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2003 at 12:03PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I haven't seen any migrants here yet.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2003 at 7:49AM
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roseunhip(z5b QC)

Here in Quebec, I have started to see some of those yellowish warblers too as of Sept. 2nd, in my apple tree. One was some "hooded" sp. I just had a flash of.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2003 at 7:56AM
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well_drained(z6a MA)

Roseunhip makes an important point about warblers (and other insect eaters) -- they can be categorized by favored habitat (sort of like plants!), and the most common division is by elevation (also dry vs. wet, deciduous vs. evergreen). So the best scenario for attracting lots of warblers is to have a variety of trees and shrubs of different heights. Although they are not so picky about elevation during migration, they tend to lean toward their traditional pattern. A water source (particularly moving or dripping water) is a good way not only to attract them but to get them to eye level.

What would be ideal is for someone to invent a bird feeder that dispenses insects.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2003 at 9:47AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Well, I have the moving water source. Now for that insect dispenser.....:-)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2003 at 7:08AM
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Jules(6 Ont)

An insect dispenser...? Plant an Oak tree. They attract over 300 different species of insects which in turn attracts insect eating birds. Cannot imagine a better insect dispenser than that!
An added plus - in time (granted a long time), the oak will also provide nuts for other critters.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2003 at 9:23AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Why don't you all just make a trip here to my place and help me figure out which warblers are here? I have so many warblers that I have given up trying to figure out which is which by looking. I thought maybe going by song was a better way to id them but that has proven difficult as well. Right now there is one outside my window hanging upside down inspecting a hickory branch for edibles...well there it goes, too soon to grab the binocs.
I found--or maybe I should say 'heard'-- a blue-gray gnatcatcher's nest over the driveway last year...that was a treat seeing the parents come and go, and boy can they be sassy little birds when they spot a snake.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2003 at 2:24PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

We really didn't get much from Isobel here on the North Shore of Long Island, just some gusty winds and not much rain. But I haven't seen the Warblers since the storm. Maybe they all rushed thru ahead of it but really I think that they should be passing thru for weeks yet.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2003 at 12:32PM
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roseunhip(z5b QC)

Last night's 11:00 sky here was incredibly full of high-pitch bird calls, in a "collective pattern", which I assumed were warblers or vireos. I believe the thrushes' calls are more flute-like and eerie sounding, perhaps also appearing to be more distant apart.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2003 at 8:03AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Jules, good idea! We don't have many oaks here.

dirtgirl, wish I could!! Somewhere I read a funny saying about warblers and don't remember where.."At first I couldn't see it and then it disappeared!" How true:-)

roseunhip, Wouldn't it be neat to have some sort of night vision and see all those migrants? I only saw 3 migrating warblers in Sept., all different but I couldn't positivly ID either of them.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2003 at 2:12PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Saw lots of Warblers in the woods yesterday during my walk thru the County Nature preserve. My yard has been having lots of them come thru daily also, looking for bugs in every bush and weedy thicket for the past few days. Lots of Kinglets, Song Sparrows, White Throated Sparrows, Juncos and Goldfinches around my yard too in the same undergrowth. The Warblers seen in the woods were differt types than the ones seen in my yard but don't ask me for an ID on them because I am so bad at knowing the different types.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 3:23PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I just wanted to ditto the advice about wax myrtle. I get lots of overwintering warblers, mostly yellow-rumped, plus a LOT of them pass through here during spring migration. I have several different types of warblers and vireos that nest here in spring. I have lots of male wax myrtles, so I found a local female and have been trying to get some to root. Well, I think I've finally succeeded! When I lived in town, I had some female, berry-bearing wax myrtles, and the warblers were all over them all winter long. I read somewhere that the waxy coating is actually some type of vegetable fat - sort of like vegetable suet, so, it's invaluable in keeping warblers fed during the winter. I'll be planting as many along my road/driveway as I can get to root.
Sherry

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 8:57PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I definitly want some wax myrtles. We have had several hard frosts but no juncos yet. They usually come down the mountain just before the first killing frost. The past few days have been in the 70's though so maybe they just knew not to leave the mountaintops yet. If the warblers are still in NY maybe they just haven't arrived here yet.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 1:53PM
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sally2_gw

I believe the their love of wax myrtles is the reason that some of the Yellow Rumped Warblers are called the Myrtle Race, or Myrtle Warblers. I'm making an assumption, though. We, too, get lots of those warblers in our Wax Myrtles where I work.

Some cautions about Wax Myrtles, though. First, they are brittle branched, and don't cope well at all with ice. Also, they sucker considerably. They can be short lived trees, but in spite of these drawbacks, I think they are well worth planting.

Sally

    Bookmark   November 6, 2003 at 9:18AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Hmmm..you may be right about the Myrtle Warbler name. That's interesting. Can I buy and plant the wax myrtles now or do I have to wait until spring?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2003 at 3:25PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Now would probably be the best time to plant them, but the problem you'll have is getting a female. Many nurseries sell plants that were grown from seed - I don't know what the sex ratio is, but, based on my property, there must be many more males than females. That being the case, you'll not be likely to get a female. In addition, some nurseries only carry male clones.
Since you're in Virginia, the northern bayberry would probably grow well for you, and, as I remember, there are several on-line mail order nurseries that sell fruiting females. One such nursery is Pine Ridge Gardens in Arkansas. Unless you can find a nursery that sells the southern wax myrtle - myrica cerifera - and you can see with your own eyes that the shrub has berries on it, it'd be a lot easier to go with the northern form - myrican pensylvanica. I've had a lot of trouble rooting mine.
Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: Myrica pensylvanica 'Wildwood'

    Bookmark   November 6, 2003 at 6:45PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Sherry, thanks for the info and the link. I went to the page and bookmarked it so I can check it out when I have more time. Looks like a good site with lots of attracting bird information.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 8:05AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

In a previous post, I said that I had lots of male wax myrtles but no females - WRONG! I didn't start looking for berried wax myrtles until about March, and apparently the birds had eaten all the waxy berries by then. I found about 10 females, and I tagged them, so I can work some slow-release, non-burning fertilizer and maybe some manure into the soil around them next spring. The fact that the berries were completely gone by March shows just how popular they are with the birds!
Sherry

    Bookmark   November 27, 2003 at 9:47AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Looking forward to spring warbler season. I hope to have many more migrants than usual visit my yard as they pass thru because of the nice mixed shrub borders I have been working on.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2004 at 4:24PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

No warblers this Spring. Quite unusual as I see them at migration times every year.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 12:43PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I didn't see any migrants either. The only warblers I saw were the black-throated greens, redstarts, and chestnut-sided warblers that nest at my parents' place and the yellowthroats and yellow warblers at mine.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 8:04PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I have seen a redstart for several days, foraging in a wild cherry tree by the creek.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 5:42PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

For the past few days it's been full of passing Kinglets here everyday. They are so tiny and cute. When I see them, I know the fall migration is on for the Warblers and I should be seeing them around my yard anytime as they pass South for the Winter.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2004 at 12:12PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Thanks for the heads up! I'll be keeping my eyes open. I was seeing and hearing vireos a couple of weeks ago but haven't for the last two or three days.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2004 at 9:17AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I heard a blue-headed vireo today:-)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2004 at 6:39PM
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pankhi(z7Md)

I am trying to attract insect eaters too. I started growing mountain mint (not a mint but a native) and New Jersey tea. Next year hope to add sweet cicily. These plants are recommended in making an insectivary (attracts a lot of insects). THe plants were recommended for attracting beneficial insects but they should also attract hoards of bugs in general and hopefully bring in the warblers.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 10:32AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Mountain Mint attracts lots of pollinators, the white flowers are quite pretty and the plants are hardy and bloom for a long time.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 12:16PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I usually have the Warblers pass thru during spring migration. Haven't seen any yet and it can't be too early for them!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:37PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

No migrants here either. We are just now getting warm weather. April was cold, wet and windy. According to my returnning migrant journal I've kept since 1999, all the migrants were about a week late..rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, wood thrushes, catbirds, etc. Even now the house wren hasn't returned. I haven't heard the vireos yet either.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 9:04AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I've hardly seen any warblers this year. I just realized that I haven't even heard or seen the yellowthroats that always nest along the creek. That makes me sad. I need to get out and actively look for them. I also haven't seen or heard the yellow warblers.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 4:16AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I've "found" something that seems to attract fall warblers. Apple trees and wild black cherry trees. Apparently there are a lot of insects around the fruit because for the past two days the warblers and vireos ahve really been working these trees over.

Finally did hear some yellowthroats this summer.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 8:27PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Update for 2005-06 We had magnificant fall warbler migrations!! We saw at least 18 species and several vireo species, tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, cuckoos, etc. We had several species coming through this spring too. some of the warblers ate elderberries, and most of them were foraging for insects on the goldenrod and asters.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 8:35AM
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