Nesting Birds of Missouri – Black-and-White Warbler

The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) is another weirdo in the Parulidae family. It is the only extant member of the genus, Mniotilta, and it definitely stands out against the other wood warblers that we find in Missouri. Whereas other warblers flit about the leaves at ends of branches, through bush or along forest floors, gleaning for arthropods, the Black-and-white Warbler finds another niche. It forages by hugging tree trunks and inner branches, much like a nuthatch or creeper. The interesting genus name apparently comes from another of this bird’s behaviors. This name comes from the Ancient Greek mnion, meaning “seaweed”, and tillo, “to pluck”. Apparently, Black-and-white Warblers strip mosses and reindeer lichens to line their nests, which they make in mature forests across much of eastern and central North America.

The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) can be an easy target for the bird photographer, often being seen exposed along inner tree branches.
A Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) refueling in the trees at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis.

-OZB

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