BIRD OF THE WEEK: 6/6/2014
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Setophaga magnolia
POPULATION: 40 million
HABITAT: Breeds in coniferous and mixed forests; winters in a wide variety of habitats
Despite its name, this bird is rarely seen in a magnolia tree. Ornithologist Alexander Wilson, who named the bird in 1810, had collected a specimen from a magnolia in Mississippi. He used "Black-and-yellow Warbler" for the bird's English name and "magnolia" for the Latin species name, but “magnolia” was the name that stuck.
"Maggies" head south for the winter, where they can be found on shade coffee farms, which provide habitat absent from the sun coffee farms that are rapidly replacing them. One of those places is Gaia Estate in Nicaragua, where Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Western Tanager are also found.
Males sing two different songs: one for courtship and the other to mark their territories.
The Magnolia Warbler is sometimes also referred to as the “Spruce Warbler” after its preferred nesting habitat. This would have been a better name, since—like the Bay-breasted, Canada, Blackpoll, and Blackburnian warblers—the Magnolia Warbler exploits periodic outbreaks of spruce budworms on its breeding grounds.
Although the population of Magnolia Warblers is thought to be increasing slightly, the birds are often victims of collisions with towers and other man-made structures, especially during migration. Deforestation on their nesting and wintering habitats is also a threat.
One way to help Magnolia Warblers is to buy Bird Friendly coffee—and spread the word. At ABC, we like Birds and Beans for superior flavor, easy ordering, and of course, its Bird Friendly certification, which signifies the best benefits for birds.
The Magnolia Warbler is also benefiting from ABC's efforts to "bring back the birds," with our focus on conserving geographically linked habitats: boreal woods in the United States, where these birds breed, and places where they overwinter. ABC is working with partners to help manage these lands for both birds and people.