E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Setophaga pinus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Pine Warbler
Family: Parulidae
Photo of species

© Scott Streit  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11840)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Setophaga pinus in British Columbia
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Species Information

First Confirmed Record of Pine Warbler for British Columbia
(Revised: December 3, 2012)
by Rick Toochin

Read the full article with photos/figures here. Introduction and Distribution

The Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus) is a species that favours the pine-forested habitats found throughout southeastern North America. A non-migratory population of Pine Warblers are found as residents in woodlands from eastern Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana to North Carolina down to the Gulf Coast and throughout Florida (Dunn et al. 1997). This non-migratory population extends to the north along the coast from Virginia through Delaware (Dunn et al. 1997). A second population of Pine Warblers found in the east breed in the region but migrate south for the winter. This population is found from eastern Kentucky, Tennessee through southern regions of Illinois, southern Indiana, and southeastern Ohio (Dunn et al. 1997). Where habitat remains, Pine Warblers are a localized breeder in southeast Manitoba, eastern Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and across southern Ontario through southern Quebec (Dunn et al. 1997). On the Atlantic Coast this species is found in Pine Forests in the New England States and locally in New Brunswick (Dunn et al. 1997). Pine Warblers are a short distance migrant but show up out of range mostly in the fall in the Maritime Provinces usually being seen at feeders (Dunn et al. 1997). Across the rest of North America, the Pine Warbler is mostly a late fall vagrant occurring most frequently from October to November often in Pine habitats (Dunn et al. 1997). In Campbell et al. (2001) of Volume 4 of the Birds of British Columbia, the Pine Warbler does not appear anywhere in the text. Recently there have been two reports of this species in British Columbia. The first is a sight record of a probable immature female observed at Rocky Point Bird Observatory on September 26 and 29, 1999 (Toochin et al. 2013) and recently an immature male was photographed in Lillooet coming to a suet feeder on November 29 and December 2, 2005 (I. Routley pers. comm.). Having been photographed, the second report constitutes the first confirmed record of this species for British Columbia.

The similarity of Pine Warbler to fall plumaged Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata) and Bay-breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea) makes it possible that unaware observers could miss this species without carefully considering the subtle differences between the three species. Since Pine Warbler (like all eastern warblers) has a history of vagrancy in western North America it is likely this species will occur again in British Columbia.

Occurrence and Documentation

The timing of both British Columbia’s records of Pine Warbler was in the fall when vagrant birds are most likely to turn up. In both cases each Pine Warbler was found feeding and using Pine Woodland habitat. The Rocky Point bird was feeding with a large flock of Myrtle raced Yellow-rumped Warblers (Dendroica coronata coronata)(Toochin et al. 2013). The Lillooet bird was solitary and coming to a suet feeder (I. Routley Pers. Comm.). Although there are only two fall records for British Columbia it appears that observers should pay close attention to any odd looking fall plumaged Blackpoll Warbler as this species could easily go unnoticed by an unsuspecting observer.

Along the West Coast of North America, Pine Warbler is a rare vagrant. There is no record for the State of Washington (Wahl et al. 2005). The only accepted record for Oregon is an immature found on October 23, 1986 in the town of Harbour in Curry County (OFO 2012). In California there are 68 accepted records according to the California Rare Birds Committee with the majority of sightings coming from the months of September through till December (Hamilton et al. 2007).

Keen observers should investigate any late “Blackpoll or Bay-breasted Warbler” sightings seen in the middle of November into the winter months. It is highly likely that any late bird believed to be a “Blackpoll or Bay-breasted Warbler” will turn out to be a Pine Warbler since both Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers winter in South America. Another good clue indicating a Pine is if a reported “Blackpoll or Bay-breasted Warbler” is found in the winter months coming to a suet feeder. There is always a slim chance that this scenario could happen but it is far more likely that a Pine Warbler is actually involved. With more people watching birds and our knowledge of bird movements ever increasing it seems likely that Pine Warbler will occur in British Columbia again in the future.

Read the full article with photos/figures here.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeSNAAccidentalNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Notes

This common eastern North American warbler is only a short-distance migrant, wintering throughout the southeastern United States, and is thus less prone to long-distance vagrancy than some of the neotropical migrants.

Note Authors: Rick Toochin and Jamie Fenneman

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Dendroica pinus (A. Wilson, 1811)

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2023-10-02 1:59:21 PM]
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