How to Identify Palm Warblers

Learn what palm warblers look like, where birders can find these warblers in different seasons, and what foods these birds prefer to eat.

Palm warbler sitting in tree.Courtesy Sandra Castle

Question: I spotted this bird in my backyard near a warbler, but I couldn’t identify its species. What kind of bird is it? —Sandra Castle of Vero Beach, Florida

This bird is also a warbler. It’s a palm warbler, a type that spends the summer in the boreal spruce forests and bogs in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S., migrating south to spend the winter in the southeastern states and around the Caribbean. Look for them on islands and along the coasts. In Florida, it’s the second-most common warbler seen in winter, after the yellow-rumped warbler.

What Do Palm Warblers Look Like?

The keys to recognizing it in this photo (above) are the yellow under the tail and the reddish brown cap and a yellow eyebrow stripe. Palm warblers often spend time on the ground, hopping about and bobbing their tails up and down like a palm tree swaying in the wind. Male and female palm warblers both look similar. 

Check out 25 photos of warblers you should add to your life list.

palm warblerCourtesy Bill Klipp
Warbler on banana flower in Key West, Florida

In winter plumage (above), key field marks include the strong face pattern, with dark eyeline and pale eyebrow, and the touch of yellow under the base of the tail.

What Do Palm Warblers Eat?

Insects make up most of their diet, and they feed in short-to-medium vegetation rather than high in the treetops. But they also go for natural nectar sources, as this bird is demonstrating.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.