Black-throated Blue Warbler

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a small species of songbird inhabiting Eastern North America extending north to Canada and south to Florida. They migrate at night to the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and occasionally the Caribbean coast of Mexico and Central America.

The sexual dimorphism in Black-throated Blue Warblers is strikingly apparent. Males and females look so different and were originally described as two different species. The males, who are the namesake of the species, have a midnight blue back, a sharp white belly, and black throat. The females resemble an olive-brown color and have a unique white square on the wings separating them from other females. Oftentimes, they nest and forage in shrubbery and the lower canopy of large forests. Their diet consists of a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, moths, crane flies, and spiders. In the winter, they’ll also consume seeds, berries, small fruits, and nectar.


On April 20th, an adult male Black-throated Blue Warbler (#22-1696) was admitted to CROW from Fort Myers after being found unable to fly and lethargic. Upon further examination, the patient was missing two rectrices (larger feathers used for flight) and was neurologically inappropriate with no fear of humans. The vets readied the patient for a flight test and monitored his neurological responses. After passing flight and neurologic tests, the warbler was able to be released! Songbirds come into CROW for a myriad of reasons, including car strikes, falling from the nest, being abducted, systemic disease, or other unknown trauma.

Climate change has caused a shift in songbird migration patterns. Although unclear how changes in migration affect whole populations or species, it is important to track these birds as they begin to migrate earlier in the spring and later in the fall than previously observed. This could potentially disrupt or affect their range and distribution, their feeding and reproduction habits, and their movements and migrations. According to Cornell’s Bird Cast information, it is estimated that on the nights of April 22-24, an estimated 246 million birds will be nocturnally migrating throughout the eastern side of the United States. Reasons for migration for bird species can include weather changes, breeding, and food availability. At CROW, migratory species such as songbirds and White Pelicans are frequent patients to our clinic during their migratory schedule in Florida. If a patient must stay at the facility for a longer period, CROW will transfer them back up north if the animal ends up missing their migration route. Sometimes CROW even utilizes Delta Airlines! For Black-throated Blue Warblers, they will often be seen in mixed flocks with other species during their migration and in winter. After traveling, they will establish winter feeding territories chasing away others of its own kind.

To be a friend to wildlife and especially songbirds, one could put up birdhouses, baths, and feeders. This will attract many species of songbirds, especially during warmer summer months when water sources can be more difficult to access for these birds. In addition, be observant when driving to avoid vehicle collisions, educate yourself and others about what to do in the case of a baby bird falling from its nest, and be sure not to use non-discriminate pest control devices such as glue traps that can rip a songbird’s feathers if trapped.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (4/17-4/22):
There were over 30 new patients admitted to CROW this week, including a Burrowing Owl, 4 Common Grackles, 7 Eastern Cottontails, an Eastern Gray Squirrel, 3 Eastern Screech Owls, a European Starling, a Gopher Tortoise, , a Mottled Duck, 2 Mourning Doves, 8 Northern Mockingbirds, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Yellow-bellied Slider. Recent releases include a Florida Red-bellied Cooter and a Black-throated Blue Warbler. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases.

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance. Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year. Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

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