Prairie Warbler – Accepted

1. 06 Sep 1972


Pt. Reyes MRN



2. 26 Sep 1973


Pt. Loma SD



3. 07 Oct 1973


Carmel R. mouth MTY










Figure 277. The Committee reviewed records of the Prairie Warbler for only a short time. This first-fall male—photographed on 26 October 2002 at Pt. Loma in San Diego County—is typical of the state’s records, which are concentrated along the coast in September and October (David Furseth).



Figure 407. Most California records of the Prairie Warbler are of fall migrants along the northern coast, but in October 2004 this first-fall male was photographed at China Lake in Kern County. The bird’s side-streaks are relatively bold, and the color version of this image showed that the split eye-ring was whitish, not yellow as on an adult female (Bob Steele).






Prairie Warbler

PRAIRIE WARBLER Dendroica discolor (Vieillot, 1809)

Accepted: 3 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: 1972 and 1973 records

Not submitted/reviewed: NA

Color image: see Figures

This warbler’s northern breeding limit extends from eastern Oklahoma, western Michigan, and southern Ontario east to southern Maine. The southern limit reaches from eastern Texas east to the Florida Keys, and the weakly differentiated D. d. paludicola is resident in mangroves of peninsular Florida. The widespread nominate subspecies migrates mainly through Florida to its main wintering grounds, which extend from Florida through the northern West Indies. The species winters casually elsewhere in the Southeast and rarely to uncommonly in the Lesser Antilles, western Caribbean, and Bermuda, and on the Atlantic slope of Middle America from the eastern Yucatan Peninsula to northern Honduras. Migrants and wintering birds are casual to rare elsewhere in southern Canada, across the West (including the Baja California Peninsula), and on the Pacific slope of Middle America south to El Salvador. A remarkable winter record far north on the Pacific coast involves a “probable adult” on the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia, 18 December 1993–25 January 1994 (NAB 48:242). Extralimital records extend to northern Ontario, southern coastal Alaska, Clipperton Atoll, Colombia, and Trinidad.

California’s first Prairie Warbler was a first-fall bird collected on 23 September 1962 in the Tijuana River valley, San Diego County (SDNHM 30296; McCaskie and Banks 1964). The state has since accumulated more than 350 records, about two-thirds of which are from northern California. The great majority of California records involve fall vagrants along the coast between 13 August and 6 December, with a peak in September and early October; only about 5% of the state’s records are from inland sites. The species is casual in winter, and spring vagrants (29 May–1 July) are even scarcer. Outliers on the species’ calendar involve a bird reported on 19 July 1973 at Pt. Pinos, Monterey County (Roberson 2002), and a singing male present from 7 June to 8 July 2005 at Mono Lake County Park, Mono County (NAB 59:652).