WatchList Species Account for Virginia’s Warbler
(Vermivora virginiae)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: © Bill Schmoker
Photo: Bill Schmoker

Virginia’s Warbler, a small, gray bird which breeds in drought-tolerant xeric pinyon-juniper and oak woodland, often on steep slopes of the southwestern Rocky Mountains, is retiring and not easy to observe.


Found primarily at elevations of 6,500-9,843 feet, it breeds from south-central Idaho, Nevada, Utah anc Colorado, south into New Mexico and Arizona, with outlier populations in South Dakota’s Black Hills and in Texas in the Guadalupe and Davis Mountains. It winters in southwestern Mexico. Basic information on its distribution, population, and natural history is lacking.


Where the Virginia's Warbler is most abundant, it is one of the commonest breeding birds in the avian community. However, in breeding areas where the Brown-headed Cowbird is present, this warbler’s nests are heavily parasitized, severely reducing its reproductive success.


Its limited breeding habitat, vulnerability to human disturbance, and limited abundance in much of its range makes the Virginia's Warbler a species of conservation concern. Since it is a ground-nester, controlled burning to remove combustible understory has a significantly negative effect on this bird. The potential of human alteration of habitat on its Mexican wintering grounds needs investigation.