Some warblers are poorly named, but the Black-and-white Warbler is not one of them. These warblers are black-and-white-striped in every plumage, which is one way to distinguish them from other warblers. They are the only North American warbler that regularly searches for food in bark, creeping along tree trunks and large limbs, much like a nuthatch. Like many warblers, they are often heard before they are seen: their distinctive song consists of high-pitched, two-syllable phrases repeated several times (weesa weesa weesa weesa weesa) and sounds like a squeaky wagon wheel. They migrate to Maine to breed in deciduous or mixed forests with plenty of large trees for foraging, and can be seen searching for insects in the bark of large oak, maple, and pine trees. If you have large trees in or around your backyard, keep an eye out for these unique warblers in the next couple of months as they begin their long journey back to wintering grounds in the Caribbean and Central America.
Backyard Bird of the Month is a feature by Maine Audubon created for the Maine Home Garden News, the newsletter of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard