worm, common name for various unrelated invertebrate animals with soft, often long and slender bodies. Members of the phylum Platyhelminthes, or the flatworms, are the most primitive; they are generally small and flat-bodied and include the free-living planarians (of the class Turbellaria) as well as the parasitic flukes (class Trematoda) and tapeworms (class Cestoda). The nemertines, or ribbon worms (phylum Nemertinea), are often colorful marine carnivores with an extensible proboscis. The smallest species are only a fraction of an inch (less than 2.5 cm) long, while giants of the group range up to 90 ft (27 m) and are the longest of all invertebrates. Pseuodcoelomate worms include those in the phyla Rotifera, Gastrotricha, Kinorhyncha, Nematoda, and Nematomorpha. Of these, the largest phylum is the nematodes, which are probably the most numerous multicellular animals. Also called roundworms and threadworms, the nematodes include widespread free-living species as well as parasites, such as the hookworm. Other parasitic nematodes include Filaria, the cause of filariasis, which may result in elephantiasis; Trichinella, the cause of trichinosis; Ascaris, an intestinal parasite of humans, horses, and pigs; the pinworm, a parasite common in children; the Guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis, which is now restricted to a few N sub-Saharan African nations and is ingested as a larva in water and slowly emerges when full grown (up to 3 ft/91 cm) through a painful sore in the skin; and various other species that are agricultural pests. Like the nematodes, the hairworms, or horsehair worms, are unsegmented, but they are grouped separately in the phylum Nematomorpha. The larvae are parasitic, first in the bodies of aquatic insects and then within grasshoppers or beetles. The adult is about 6 in. (15 cm) long and covered with brown chitin, giving it a stiff appearance; since the worms were frequently found in watering troughs, superstition had it that they developed from horsehairs. The annelid worms (phylum Annelida) have segmented bodies, distinct heads, digestive tubes, circulatory systems, and brains. Appendages on each segment are used for walking or swimming. They include the earthworm, of the class Oligochaeta, the leech (class Hirudinea), and the marine annelids of the class Polychaeta. The sea mouse, the clam worm, and the feather duster worm belong to the latter group. The shipworm is a type of clam. The larvae of many insects are popularly called worms. Moth and butterfly larvae can be distinguished from adult animals called worms by the presence of several pairs of fleshy appendages at the rear end of the body (see caterpillar). However, other insect larvae are completely legless, while still others are equipped with six pairs of legs, as in adult insects (see larva). Insect larvae known as worms include the armyworm, bagworm, cutworm, and inchworm.
The Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) is a small New World warbler. It is the only species classified in the genus Helmitheros.

It is 13 cm long and weighs 13 g. It is relatively plain with olive-brown upperparts and light-coloured underparts, but has black and light brown stripes on its head. It has a slim pointed bill and pink legs. In immature birds, the head stripes are brownish.

This bird breeds in dense deciduous forests in the eastern United States, usually on wooded slopes. The nest is an open cup placed on the ground, hidden among dead leaves. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs. Both parents feed the young; they may try to distract predators near the nest by pretending to be injured.

In winter, these birds migrate to southern Mexico and Central America.

Worm-eating Warblers eat insects, usually searching in dead leaves or bark on trees and shrubs, also picking through dead leaves on the forest floor. Despite their name, they rarely if ever eat earthworms.

The male's song is a short high-pitched trill. This bird's call is a chip or tseet.

Worm-eating Warblers have disappeared from some parts of their range due to habitat loss. They are vulnerable to nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird where forests are fragmented.


  • Curson, Quinn and Beadle,New World Warblers ISBN 0-7136-3932-6
  • Stiles and Skutch, ''A guide to the birds of Costa Rica’’ ISBN 0-8014-9600-4

External links

Further reading


  • Hanners, L. A., and S. R. Patton. 1998. Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus). In The Birds of North America, No. 367 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


  • Artman VL. Ph.D. (2000). Effects of prescribed burning on forest bird populations in southern Ohio. The Ohio State University, United States -- Ohio.
  • Gale GA. Ph.D. (1995). Habitat selection in the worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus): Testing on different spatial scales. The University of Connecticut, United States -- Connecticut.
  • McIntyre BM. Ph.D. (2001). The role of spatial scale in breeding habitat selection of neotropical migrant birds in Albemarle County, Virginia. University of Virginia, United States -- Virginia.
  • Petit DR. Ph.D. (1991). Habitat associations of migratory birds wintering in Belize, Central America: Implications for theory and conservation. University of Arkansas, United States -- Arkansas.
  • Stratford JA. Ph.D. (2005). Avian species richness and abundance in a rapidly urbanizing landscape in the Southern Piedmont region of Georgia, United States of America. Auburn University, United States -- Alabama.


  • Artman VL, Sutherland EK & Downhower JF. (2001). Prescribed burning to restore mixed-oak communities in southern Ohio: Effects on breeding-bird populations. Conservation Biology. vol 15, no 5. p. 1423-1434.
  • Blake JG. (2005). Effects of prescribed burning on distribution and abundance of birds in a closed-canopy oak-dominated forest, Missouri, USA. Biological Conservation. vol 121, no 4. p. 519-531.
  • Conner RN & Dickson JG. (1997). Relationships between bird communities and forest age, structure, species composition and fragmentation in the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Texas Journal of Science. vol 49, no 3 SUPPL. p. 123-138.
  • Cooper RJ, Dodge KM, Martinat PJ, Donahoe SB & Whitmore RC. (1990). Effect of Diflubenzuron Application on Eastern Deciduous Forest Birds. Journal of Wildlife Management. vol 54, no 3. p. 486-493.
  • Dececco JA, Marshall MR, Williams AB, Gale GA & Cooper RJ. (2000). Comparative seasonal fecundity of four neotropical migrants in middle appalachia. Condor. vol 102, no 3. p. 653-663.
  • Donovan TM & Flather CH. (2002). Relationships among north American songbird trends, habitat fragmentation, and landscape occupancy. Ecological Applications. vol 12, no 2. p. 364-374.
  • Gobris NM & Yong W. (1993). Breeding records of worm-eating Warbler and scarlet tanager from Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Oriole. vol 58, no 1-4. p. 4-6.
  • Gram WK, Porneluzi PA, Clawson RL, Faaborg J & Richter SC. (2003). Effects of experimental forest management on density and nesting success of bird species in Missouri Ozark Forests. Conservation Biology. vol 17, no 5. p. 1324-1337.
  • Greenberg R. (1987). Development of Dead Leaf Foraging in a Tropical Migrant Warbler. Ecology. vol 68, no 1. p. 130-141.
  • Greenberg R. (1987). SEASONAL FORAGING SPECIALIZATION IN THE WORM-EATING WARBLER. Condor. vol 89, no 1. p. 158-168.
  • Heckscher CM. (2000). Forest-dependent birds of the Great Cypress (North Pocomoke) Swamp: Species composition and implications for conservation. Northeastern Naturalist. vol 7, no 2. p. 113-130.
  • Hobson KA & Wassenaar LI. (1997). Linking breeding and wintering grounds of neotropical migrant songbirds using stable hydrogen isotopic analysis of feathers. Oecologia. vol 109, no 1. p. 142-148.
  • Howell CA, Porneluzi PA, Clawson RL & Faaborg J. (2004). Breeding density affects point-count accuracy in Missouri forest birds. Journal of Field Ornithology. vol 75, no 2. p. 123-133.
  • Kellner CJ & Cooper RJ. (1998). Two instances of kleptoparasitism in passerines. Journal of Field Ornithology. vol 69, no 1. p. 55-57.
  • Marshall MR, DeCecco JA, Williams AB, Gale GA & Cooper RJ. (2003). Use of regenerating clearcuts by late-successional bird species and their young during the post-fledging period. Forest Ecology and Management. vol 183, no 1-3. p. 127-135.
  • Maul JD & Farris JL. (2003). Unusual occurrence of worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) in intensive agricultural landscape in northeastern Arkansas. Southwestern Naturalist. vol 48, no 2. p. 297-299.
  • Pashley DN. (1988). Warblers of the West Indies Ii. the Western Caribbean. Caribbean Journal of Science. vol 24, no 3-4. p. 112-126.
  • Patten MA & Marantz CA. (1996). Implications of vagrant southeastern vireos and warblers in California. Auk. vol 113, no 4. p. 911-923.
  • Rodewald PG & Smith KG. (1998). Short-term effects of understory and overstory management on breeding birds in Arkansas oak-hickory forests. Journal of Wildlife Management. vol 62, no 4. p. 1411-1417.
  • Wenny DG, Clawson RL, Faaborg J & Sheriff SL. (1993). Population density, habitat selection and minimum area requirements of three forest-interior warblers in central Missouri. The Condor. vol 95, no 4. p. 968.

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