Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Common; significant population declines in Idaho and the Dakotas, and numbers are declining in many other areas.
HABITAT: Prefers moist habitats such as willow- and alder-lined streams and ponds, brushy bogs, and the edges of marshes, swamps, or creeks. Also occurs in dry sites such as hedgerows, roadside thickets, orchards, farmlands, forest edges, and suburban yards and gardens. Generally occurs wherever patches of trees or shrubs grow, but avoids heavy forests. In the Florida Keys, only inhabits coastal mangroves.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Small scattered trees or dense shrubbery.
NEST: Usually builds nest in an upright fork or crotch of a tree or bush, typically 3 to 8 feet, occasionally up to 40 feet, above the ground. May nest colonially in ideal habitats. Frequently victimized by cowbirds; builds up the nest lining to cover the cowbird eggs.
FOOD: Forages for insects and spiders on the limbs of shrubs and trees by gleaning and hawking.
REFERENCES: Bent 1953a, Bigglestone 1913, DeGraff et al. 1980, Griscom and Sprunt 1979, Johnsgard 1979, Schrantz 1943, Tate and Tate 1982, Vickery in Farrand 1983c.