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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Swainson's Warbler -- Limnothylpis swainsonii

RANGE: Breeds locally from northeastern Oklahoma, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana, southwestern and eastern Kentucky, southern Ohio, western West Virginia, western and southern Virginia, and southern Delaware south to east-central Texas, the Gulf Coast, and northern Florida. Winters on the Caribbean islands and in southeast Mexico.

STATUS: Uncommon.

HABITAT: Generally inhabits rich, damp woodlands with deep shade and dense undergrowth, including wooded swamps and canebrakes of lowlands and, locally, rhododendron thickets of the mountains.


NEST: Builds a large bulky nest, usually 2 to 6 feet above the ground. In coastal lowlands, commonly nests in cane or palmetto; in highlands, nests in shrubs, small trees, vines, briars, rhododendron, or laurel. Sometimes parasitized by cowbirds.

FOOD: Consumes primarily insects and spiders found in leaves on the ground, but occasionally searches for food in low shrubs.

REFERENCES: Harrison 1975, Meanley 1966, 1971.

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