Status: Rare regular spring migrant east, rare casual elsewhere. Rare casual summer visitor east and central. Rare casual fall migrant east and central, accidental west.
Documentation: Specimen: UNSM ZM10813, 15 May 1888 Peru, Nemaha Co.
Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Pyle 1997).
For a discussion of hybridization of this species and Golden-winged Warbler, see that species.
Spring: Apr 25,25,26 <<<>>> Jun 1,3,4
Most reports are from the east during the period late Apr-early Jun, with later reports 11 Jun 1993 Sarpy Co (Grzybowski 1993) and 11 Jun 1999 Fontenelle Forest., Sarpy Co
There are four reports from the Panhandle, 6 May 2000 Carter Canyon, Scotts Bluff Co (Jorgensen 2002), two photographed on 8 May 2007 Scotts Bluff Co (the initial report of two birds was not accepted by NOURC, but a female photographed in the area the same day was (Brogie 2008)), 20 May 1982 Sioux Co, and 4 Jun 2005, a female, Gering Cemetery, Scotts Bluff Co. There are few reports away from the east, most westerly of these 19 May 1993, a female netted in Keith Co (Brown et al 1996), a singing male at Lake Ogallala, Keith Co 15 May 2004, 15 May 1982 Keya Paha Co (Brogie and Mossman 1983), 17-18 May 1980 Thomas Co (Bray 1994), and 22 May 1971 Brown Co.
Considered “possibly the best total for one season”, six were reported in Sarpy Co 5-24 May 1995. Other good counts were the four on 30 Apr-21 May 2011, four on 11-30 May 2014 in the east, and four in 2015. However, sightings have declined in recent years as Golden-winged Warbler sightings have increased; no Blue-winged Warblers were reported in spring 2020.
Summer: One singing in “perfect breeding habitat” four miles south of Verdigre, Knox Co along the Verdige Creek 8 Jun 2002 and found there again 24 May 2003 (Mark Brogie, pers. comm.) was notable. Singing birds were found in Keya Paha Co 18 Jun 1999 and 4-19 Jun 2000 (recorded, Jorgensen 2003). The only other Nebraska summer report is 6 Jul 1974 Douglas-Sarpy Cos.
The only evidence for breeding is a set of eggs ascribed to this species collected in Sarpy Co in 1901 (Ducey 1988). According to Bruner et al (1904), it was a “rather common summer resident and breeder in the wooded Missouri bottoms,” said to be “present about Omaha and Peru all summer.” There are no breeding reports since that time, suggesting a significant range contraction possibly resulting from clearing of preferred habitat. It was a regular breeder in the Kansas City area until the 1940s (Robbins and Easterla 1992), and there is a small breeding population in northwest Missouri at Weston Bend SP, Platte Co, where territorial males have been present each year since about 1996, although “vegetational succession” is threatening the small population (Robbins 2018). It breeds throughout most of the southeast half of Iowa (Kent and Dinsmore 1996).
Just to the north of Jackson Co., at Weston Bend, several pairs, including hybrids with the “Brewster’s” phenotype, were first noted breeding in 2000. However, with vegetational succession the species is on the verge of extirpation at that site
Fall: Aug 28, 28, 29 <<<>>> Sep 10, 15, 16
There are only 17 fall reports. Surprisingly, about half the reports are away from the Missouri River Valley, including one from the Panhandle: 28 Aug 2016 at Chadron SP, Dawes Co by a bander from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (not accepted by NOURC, Brogie 2017), 30 Aug 1970 Custer Co, 1 Sep 1994 Dakota Co, 1 Sep 2019 Lancaster Co, 7 Sep 2015 Lincoln, Lancaster Co, 9-10 Sep 1995 Dixon Co, 10 Sep 2018 Lancaster Co, 15 Sep 2011 Lancaster Co, and 16 Sep 1961 Webster Co.
NOURC: Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee
SP: State Park
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
Photograph (top) of a Blue-winged Warbler at Wilderness Park, Lancaster Co 1 Sep 2019 by Joel G. Jorgensen.
Bray, T.E., B.K. Padelford, and W.R. Silcock. 1986. The birds of Nebraska: A critically evaluated list. Published by the authors, Bellevue, Nebraska, USA.
Brogie, M.A. 2008. 2007 (19th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 76: 111-119.
Brogie, M.A., and M.J. Mossman. 1983. Spring and summer birds of the Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska: An annotated checklist. NBR 51: 44-51.
Brown, C.R., M.B. Brown, P.A. Johnsgard, J. Kren, and W.C. Scharf. 1996. Birds of the Cedar Point Biological Station area, Keith and Garden Counties, Nebraska: Seasonal occurrence and breeding data. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 23: 91-108.
Bruner, L., R.H. Wolcott, and M.H. Swenk. 1904. A preliminary review of the birds of Nebraska, with synopses. Klopp and Bartlett, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Ducey, J.E. 1988. Nebraska birds, breeding status and distribution. Simmons-Boardman Books, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Grzybowski, J.A. 1993. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 47: 1122-1124.
Jorgensen, J.G. 2002. 2002 (sic; =2000). (12th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 70: 84-90.
Jorgensen, J.G. 2003. 2001 (13th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 71: 97-102.
Kent, T.H., and J.J. Dinsmore. 1996. Birds in Iowa. Publshed by the authors, Iowa City and Ames, Iowa, USA.
Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.
Robbins, M.B. 2018. The Status and Distribution of Birds in Missouri. University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.
Robbins, M.B., and D.A. Easterla. 1992. Birds of Missouri, their distribution and abundance. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, USA.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2019. Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera), Version 1.0. In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org