Bird Database

Magnolia Warbler

(Setophaga magnolia)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Predation, Collisions, Habitat Loss

Conservation Actions

Maintain large unfragmented forest blocks

Magnolia Warbler

(Setophaga magnolia)

Like so many of our warblers, the Magnolia was named by someone who first found it away from its breeding habitats. In this case the collector was none other than Alexander Wilson, the “Father of American Ornithology,” who shot one in a magnolia tree in Mississippi way back in 1810. If that bird had lived, it would have shortly arrived in the boreal forests around the Great Lakes and perhaps nested in a dense patch of young spruce or hemlock. Perhaps if Wilson had been working farther north we’d now be calling this stunning little bird the “Conifer Thicket Warbler,” which admittedly is a bit of a mouthful.

Because it relies on dense second growth, the Magnolia Warbler is more of an early successional species (e.g., Chestnut-sided Warbler) than a forest one (e.g., Black-throated Green Warbler), and its fortunes have probably waxed and waned with the clearing and regeneration of coniferous forests across its mostly northern range. In New Hampshire it was found mostly from the White Mountains north during the 1800s, with scattered records in the western highlands. As forest reclaimed old agricultural land in the early 1900s, especially at higher elevations, numbers in the southwest increased, and few have even nested in the southeastern third of the state.

Long-term trends in Magnolia Warbler populations appear generally stable, although with local ups and downs that probably reflect different histories of land use. They may decline in response to extensive forest clearing, but are likely to recolonize such areas quickly if conifers regenerate. In its winter range in Central America the species uses a wide range of habitats, from orchards and thickets to tall mature forests, so it’s unlikely that habitat change in the non-breeding season is affecting them.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Magnolia Warbler
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count