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Number of species: 80

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Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia

While older male Black-and-white Warblers tend to be readily recognizable by their overall plumage, other age/sex classes often require more attention to differentiate.  The presence of a distinct pseudolimit between the greater and primary coverts of adults can reduce the reliability of molt limits in this species; tail and (in fall) skull pneumatization are more reliable for ageing

Quick Tips:

  • Consider the overall plumage - males are entirely black and white, while females are a slightly paler dusky-black and their flanks often have a buffy tinge
  • Look at the throat - only males have black markings, and in fall, only AHY males have more than a trace of black in the throat
  • Examine the shape of the rectrices - on AHY/ASY birds they tend to be more broad and rounded while on HY/SY birds they average more narrow and pointed; the extent of white on the rectrices does not vary enough to be helpful except in extreme cases
  • Look at the primary coverts - on HY/SY birds they are grayish (fall) to brownish (spring) and contrast moderately to strongly with the blackish greater coverts, but beware that a pseudolimit occurs at the same location on AHY/ASY birds

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Male
Grayish auricular and whitish throat; black greater coverts contrasting with duller primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed; flanks whitish with black streaks.
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16232-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2164.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16232-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2166.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16232-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2165.jpg
Date: Aug 6
Hatch year / Female
Grayish to buffy auricular and whitish throat; dark greater coverts contrasting with duller primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; flanks buffy with minimal streaking.
Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65568-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2170.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65568-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2172.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65568-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2171.jpg
Date: Aug 7
After hatch year / Male
Black auricular and partly to mostly black throat; entire wing black to blackish; rectrices broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24734-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2152.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24734-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2154.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24734-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2153.jpg
Date: Aug 23
After hatch year / Female
Grayish auricular and whitish throat; entire wing dark; rectrices broad and rounded; cheeks, throat, and flanks may show some buffy tones
Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65250-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2143.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65250-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2145.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65250-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2144.jpg
Date: May 8

Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65525-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2158.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65525-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2160.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65525-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2159.jpg
Date: Aug 1
Second year / Male
Blackish auricular and throat, both sometimes mottled with white; black greater coverts contrasting with primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed.
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43176-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2146.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43176-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2148.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43176-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2147.jpg
Date: May 25
Second year / Female
Grayish auricular and whitish throat; dark greater coverts contrasting with duller primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; may have buffy flanks; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed.
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16023-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2149.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16023-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2151.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16023-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2150.jpg
Date: May 18
After second year / Male
Black auricular and throat; entire wing black to blackish; rectrices broad and rounded.
Thumbnail - MG2-2400-71044-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2142.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2400-71044-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2140.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2400-71044-Mniotilta_varia_AOU_7_52-2141.jpg
Date: May 16

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
After second year / Female Grayish auricular and whitish throat; entire wing dark; rectrices broad and rounded.
Juvenile / Unknown Grayish to buffy auricular and whitish throat; dark greater coverts contrasting with duller primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; underparts buffy with minimal streaking; upperparts tinged brownish
Number of species: 80

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