CAPE MAY WARBLER(Setophaga tigrina) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Cape May Warbler adult male has a rufous patch under the eye.The throat is yellow, and this color extends on each side of the neck. The head and back are brown. The rump and most of the under parts are yellow. There is also a yellow band between the eye and the base of the bill. The wings are brown with a white band. Females have duller colors and no rufous patch under the eye. The bill and legs are dark grey.
NAME: The English name ‘Cape May’ refers to the location in New Jersey, USA, where the first specimen of this warbler species was found. The name remained even though no other bird was seen in that location for some 100 years (Choate). Warblers are thus called thanks to their generally melodious songs. The Latin genus name ‘Setophaga’ means ‘moth eating’, and ‘tigrina’ means ‘tiger striped’, in reference to the black streaks on the breast of both sexes.
HABITAT: Coniferous forest.
DIET: Spruce budworm and other insects, nectar in the winter.
NESTING: The nest is usually built in black spruce, near the top. During years of spruce budworm infestations, this warbler can lay up to nine (white) eggs, a very large amount for this genus. Its numbers fluctuate in tandem with that pest’s cycle.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in boreal forests of Canada east of the Rockes. Found in the eastern half of the USA during migration. Winters in the Caribbean and coastal Central America.
ON PEI: Known to breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings ‘fairly common’ in spring and summer.
CONSERVATION: Because the Cape May warbler life cycle is so dependent on the spruce budworm, spraying against that pest has contributed to a decline in its population. In spite of this trend, the species is still listed as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN.
NOTES: According to the Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas (see reference below) this warbler species is the one mainly responsible for ‘warbler neck’ in birders, due to its habit of foraging and perching at the top of the tallest conifers.
A unique feature of this warbler is its partially tubular tongue, which allows it to sip nectar and berry juice on its wintering grounds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler
REFERENCES: (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
American Bird Conservancy (Cape May Warbler)

Cape May Warbler – Fort Clinch Park, FL – Apr. 7, 2018- Roberta Palmer
Cape May warbler, FL, Roberta Palmer
Cape May Warbler, female – Lime Tree Farm, Jamaica – Dick Daniels
Cape May warbler female, Dick Daniels
Cape May Warbler – Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, QC – photo by Cephas
Cape May warbler, Quebec, by Cephas