Cerulean Warblers

The Cerulean Warbler, Dendroica cerulea, is a small songbird of the New World warbler family.

Distribution / Range

Their breeding habitats are mature deciduous forests in eastern North America.

These birds migrate to forested mountain areas in South America.


Adult males have pale cerulean blue upperparts and white underparts with a black necklace across the breast; they also have black streaks on the back and flanks.

Females and immature birds have greyer or greenish upperparts, a pale stripe over the eye, and no streaking on the back and no necklace. All of theses birds, regardless of their age, have wing bars and a thin pointed bill.

Cerulean Warbler
Cerulean Warbler

Nesting / Breeding

Their nests are cup-shaped and are placed on a horizontal branch high in a hardwood tree.

Diet / Feeding

They forage actively high in trees, sometimes catching insects in flight. These birds mainly eat insects.

Calls / Vocalizations

The song of this bird is a buzzed zray zray zray zray zeeee. The call is a slurred chip.


In fragmented forest areas, this bird is vulnerable to nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird. This bird’s numbers are declining faster than any other warbler species in the USA; its population nowadays is less than one-fifth of what it was 40 years ago.

In Art

John James Audubon illustrates the Cerulean Warbler in Birds of America (published, London 1827-38) as Plate 48 where two birds are shown perched in a Bear Berry bush. The image was engraved and colored by Robert Havell’s, London workshops. The original watercolor by Audubon was purchased by the New York History Society where it remains to this day (March 2009).

Photo of author

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