Wilson's Warbler

Scientific Name: Wilsonia pusilla

Pictures: (click for larger images)

A male Wilson's Warbler perches still for just a second in a tree in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/3/05.
Probably the same bird, on a different branch and catching more sunlight.  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/3/05.
A male Wilson's Warbler that was flitting around in a tree outside the Chemistry building (Charles Yound Drive side).  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/19/05. 

A Wilson's Warbler refuses to hold still for the camera!  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/15/05.

 A Wilson's Warbler from directly below.  A view you're likely to get as they can often be found in tree branches over your head.  Photo by Jason Finley, 9/11/05.
Wilson's Warbler illustration.

-Photos by Jason Finley
-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Small. 4.5" in length (beak to tail), smaller than a sparrow.  A little yellow nugget of a bird, with a small beak too.  Face and underparts are bright yellow, and back is grayish/olive-green.  The males have a distinctive black "cap" on top of their heads!  The females don't have the black spot.

Sound: Listen to a Wilson's Warbler singing and calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Uncommon, spring/summer only.  That said, they're probably present every summer, just in relatively small numbers.

Location: The UCLA Botanical Garden, for sure, as they seem to like being near water.  But they can also be seen elsewhere on campus.  They've been seen at the creek behind the Anderson School.  They've been spotted in the trees outside the east entrance to the Chemistry building (on Charles E Young Drive), and in the Math Science quad (in some bushes by the Geology building entrance).  I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up in the Bomb Shelter trees too, and there are probably places around North Campus too; I just don't get up there as much to find out.   Keep an ear out for their high-pitched chirps, then look for a small bright yellow bird, usually moving quickly. They'll usually be in the trees above you.

Notes: They fly/hover around crazily in trees, catching insects.  They're not a whole lot bigger than the Bushtits. One time I saw one chasing some bushtits who had infiltrated the tree he was trying to catch bugs in!


HistoricalDr. Loye Miller wrote about the "Pileolated Warbler " as it was known back then.  I think I may be confused regarding his statements on migration.  He has it listed as a Summer bird, which matches info from other, current, sources, but then talks about them leaving in April/May and returning in September.  Hmm.

During the spring migration this warbler moves across the campus in considerable numbers to local or to northern breeding grounds (April and May). It returns about the last of September.  These dates are however, much more variable than those of other migrants.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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