Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Palm Warbler - Setophaga palmarum
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General Comments The Palm Warbler might be associated with saw-palmetto stands in Florida, but this is still a bad name for this tail-wagging species. It nests across most of the boreal forest/bog/muskeg zone of Canada, south barely into the northeastern United States. It is a rather hardy species, as it winters in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, and sparingly in the Piedmont. It migrates through all parts of the state. Unlike most migrating warblers, Palms are often found in weedy fields, wooded margins, and other shorter vegetation (and often on the ground), as opposed to forest canopy, though they can be seen in the canopy. In winter, they occur in brushy open country in a variety of habitats -- farmyards with brush piles and hedgerows, cattle feed lots, stubble fields, weedy fields with many composites, marsh edges, and various shrub thickets. They often gather into small flocks with Eastern Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows, Pine Warblers, and other species. The species has two well marked subspecies -- the "Eastern Palm", which is quite yellow below, and the "Western Palm", which is much paler below and is the more often seen in North Carolina.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S3N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter resident, with strong migratory movements. In winter, fairly common along and near the coast in Dec, but becomes uncommon by Jan, and can be scarce after severe weather; farther inland, uncommon throughout, becoming scarce after severe weather. In spring, uncommon to fairly common; however, in fall, it is fairly common in most inland areas but is common to abundant along the coast. Generally most numerous in late Sep and Oct. Mainly early Sep to mid-Apr. Peak counts: 3,000, Salvo (Dare), 10 Oct 1988; 1,000, Bald Head Island, 22 Sep 1988.
Piedmont Transient, and scarce winter resident. Uncommon to fairly common in spring and fall, generally over the region. More numerous in fall, but seldom common. In winter, uncommon in early winter in the eastern and southern portions, but rare in midwinter. Farther inland, generally rare in winter, with few overwintering. Mainly late Mar to early May, and early or mid-Sep into Nov. Peak counts:
Mountains Transient, and very scarce in winter. In spring, generally uncommon, mainly at low to middle elevations; in fall, somewhat more numerous, and can be fairly common at times, even at higher elevations. Very rare to rare in early winter at low elevations, but essentially absent by mid-winter. Mainly early Apr to early May, and early Sep to late Oct. Peak counts: 8, Henderson CBC, 28 Dec 2003.
Finding Tips Generally easily found along the immediate coast in late Sep and most of Oct.
Attribution LeGrand[2012-10-02], LeGrand[2011-12-17], LeGrand[2011-09-04]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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