Prairie Warbler Portrait

It’s rainy, windy, and cool here on April 26 at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky. So I’ve been holed-up at the local public library, busying myself with editing and posting videos and sound recordings.

I”ve just pulled together some nice clips of a Prairie Warbler that I gathered a few days ago. This male’s buzzy, up-slurred song has a very fast pulse rate. He was quite cooperative, allowing me to get some terrific views:

placeholder image for Prairie Warbler clip

Prairie Warblers are common over much of the East, preferring to breed in shrubby, overgrown fields and similar areas. The most familiar song pattern is a series of buzzy notes that rise in pitch from beginning to end. There is a lot of variation—sometimes the buzzes within a song are given slow enough to count and at other times (such as with the individual in the video) they are delivered too rapidly to discern.

Males may also sing complex songs composed of two parts. In the following example, which I recorded at Land Between the Lakes during my first visit in 1988 (holy smoke, that was a long time ago), the song begins with a series of clear musical notes that transform into higher buzzy notes at the end:

Songs of a Prairie Warbler – recorded 17 May 1988 by Lang Elliott at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky.


  1. Excellent videos and recording! I didn’t know Prairie Warblers could make songs like the one in the recording. In Michigan, the Prairie Warbler is a rare migrant and very rare breeder, with scattered breeding populations throughout the state. The closest one to my house is a colony at Warren Dunes State Park. I was there on May 26 this year, and I thought I saw one! It was bright yellow and seen for a glimpse in a pine tree, where, on the top of the tree, an Eastern Towhee was calling.

  2. Makes me remember our time last spring with Bob in the Arnot Forest. Sweet Prairie warbler morning. That was also the morning I almost ran into a coyote who set off the red squirrel I recorded…
    Can’t wait to join you soon!!!!

  3. Man you are cleaning up. This is wonderful. I always though that Prairie warblers looked as though they were up all night and had bags under their eyes.
    Terrific video! I can’t wait to watch this in HD.

  4. Hey Lang
    I’m hearing prairie warblers across the South, too. All I’ve heard so far are the buzzy songs. They’re the songs I think of as being the first songs males use when they come back, as they’re more the female advertising songs. When lots of males are back, most males start the morning dawn chorus with the more tonal songs. I had a student (Peter Houlihan) do a thesis on them. Very nice birds, nice songs.
    Just finished 925 miles of biking today, flying home tomorrow from Baton Rouge. . .
    Looking forward to hearing the northern spring.
    hugs to you . . . don

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