Tell me where did you sleep last night? In the pines, in the pines…
Story by Lucy Elam + Photo Courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited
Pine warblers have sturdy bills, yellow-green plumage and a love for Eastern pine forests that gives them their well-deserved name. From the pine barrens of New Jersey to the long-leaf pine forests of the Southeast, these songbirds are rarely found far from the pines. This makes the pine ecosystems of the Lowcountry a perfect year-round habitat to many pine warblers, while others prefer to just visit for the winter before returning to their breeding grounds in Northeastern pinewood regions by early February. When the two migratory and residential groups combine here in the winter, they can form flocks of 100 or more. These birds build cup-shaped nests bound with silk from caterpillars or spider-webs. They typically nest at the end of horizontal branches high above the ground in (you guessed it) pine trees. Unlike almost all other warblers, the pine warbler is one that you might be able to spy at your backyard feeder. They are the only warbler that will eat large amounts of seeds (primarily pine seeds, of course), and this dietary preference will draw them to an elevated feeder stocked with millet, peanuts and suet. Their preference for the lofty branches of longleaf or loblolly pines can sometimes make them difficult to spot, but listen for their loud musical trilling, also known as a pine warbler call.
- A group of pine warblers is collectively known as a “cone” of warblers.
- The pine warbler’s closest relatives seem to be the olive-capped warbler and yellow-rumped (butter butt) warbler.
- The oldest recorded pine warbler was a female and at least 7 years, 10 months old when she was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Florida in 2013.
Where to see them
- New River Linear Trail
- Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Find a full line of feeders, seeds and accessories for backyard bird feeding at Wild Birds Unlimited in Festival Centre at Indigo Park on Hilton Head Island.
- EcoTough Tail Prop Suet Feeder
- EcoClean Dinner Bell Feeder