Warblers are one of the most popular songbirds. Some backyard birdwatchers might be surprised to learn that there are two world orders when it comes to the world of warblers, that of the New World and Old World.
With several hundred species of warblers combined between the two worlds, it’s easier to just keep in mind the main differences between the two. Old world warblers tend to be drab with color varieties that include green, olive, buff, brown, and black predominantly. New World warblers are also small birds, but tend to be more brightly colored. With so many species found throughout North America, you might wonder if you’ve seen them in your own yard. Surprisingly, these small songbirds are some of the most challenging to attract to your yard.
See also: Warblers to Watch for in Winter
Where to Find Warblers
Warblers are a migratory bird species. When the weather becomes less than favorable, the warbler takes flight. They spend significant time traveling between North and South America, depending on whether it’s cold and which destination offers the best living conditions. Because these migratory birds are comfortable with traveling long distances, there is a chance to see them each year.
Since they are insect-eaters, warblers head south during the cold winter months where their source of food is more abundant. Though they winter in the southern part of the United States, the majority of the species spend the cold days in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Like most bird species, warblers follow the food source. Cold and snow make it harder to get the food they need to survive.
What Warblers Love Most
They say the way to a man’s heart is his stomach, and this is no different for warblers. These charming birds are insectivores, so the typical bird feeder won’t lure them to your backyard. Depending on where you live, you’re not likely to attract warblers with seeds, but warblers love water.
The lure of a bird bath might be enough to attract warblers to your backyard. Warblers are known for enjoying an abundance of water throughout their day. If you want to increase your chances of attracting warblers to your backyard, a moving water feature is your best bet.
Warblers are familiar with the sound of running water and will seek out what they are hearing. One of the easiest ways to introduce a running source of water to your backyard is by purchasing a solar powered fountain pump. The continuous supply of water is simple to hook up, powered by the sun, and attracts multiple bird species. For those in colder weather regions, consider a heated bird bath. Moving water in a heated bird bath does not freeze, and even minimal exposure from a solar powered source will keep the water liquid. The science behind it is simple: the gentle pulsing action of moving water keeps water molecules separate and moving, making it impossible for the water to solidify.
What Warblers WILL Eat
Aside from a water source, you can attract warblers with several food sources that they will enjoy when their insect selection is non-existent. Planting bushes that bear berries is a delicious attraction to the warbler. Some commonly recommended berry bushes are dogwood and blackberry. These petite birds love to pick their own berries when a fresh source presents itself. It’s a show in itself just watching their small bills pick berries off the branches.
While these birds will pass up seeds in favor of spiders and their favorite flying insects, when there’s none to be found, they will go for black oil sunflower seeds. The oil in the seeds is often enough to fuel them for an impending long-distance trip. Odd as it may sound, and disdained by most backyard gardeners, the poison ivy plant is a delectable treat for the warbler. For backyard birders who have pets that wander their yards, it might not be a good option. While poison ivy isn’t poisonous to cats and dogs, their coats can pick up the plant’s oils and transmit them to their family members when they go back inside. If you can find a safe way to offer this unusual delicacy to them, you’re sure to have warblers coming to your yard.
A Safe Place to Perch
Aside from a water source and some food substitutions for these delicate songbirds, you can also make it more likely they’ll come to your backyard by offering them a safe place to perch. Offering them a safe haven to hang out in will go a long way in bringing them to your yard. Warblers prefer to hang back and stay out of open view. Bushes and brush are one way to offer warblers a safe place to rest.
Besides bushes and brush, if you have some strong and secure trees in your yard, there’s a good chance you will attract warblers. Warblers are members of the passerine family, and as such, like a good perching spot. Not only do warblers look for sturdy trees to perch from, but they also seek them out for nesting. Have a tree in your yard you were contemplating taking down? This might be the very argument you need for keeping it up.
Like some other species, warblers tend to travel in large flocks. If you find you’re attracting a handful, there’s a good chance you’ll soon be attracting dozens. Keep this in mind when planning food and water sources in case you find yourself inundated with these charming, small birds.
These small, colorful, and energetic birds known for their acrobatic feats and range of vocal sounds are an enchanting addition to any backyard. If you’re interested in attracting them to yours, start planning now to be ready for an eye-catching show when spring migration begins.