The Santa Marta warbler feeds mainly on small invertebrates (6), although it also consumes berries, seeds, nectar and the juice of various fruits. The sharp, slender bill enables the Santa Marta warbler to extract insects from minute cracks in tree bark and the gaps between blades of grass. Species of the Basileuterus genus are known to rapidly flap their wings and tail to flush insects out from their hiding places. Foraging takes place mostly on the ground and a diet mainly comprising of insects means that the Santa Marta warbler faces some competition with lizards over food sources (3) (4) (5).
Although little specific information is known about the Santa Marta warbler’s breeding habits, tropical warblers of the New World are all believed to have similar reproductive cycles. Juveniles moult into colourful adult plumage in the late summer and pairs are formed at an early age. Interestingly, the male and female remain pair-bonded throughout the year (4) (6).
This species first breeds at around a year old and breeding occurs during the rainy season, when there are more insects on which to feed the young (4). The female spends a week building a domed, covered nest, which is concealed behind foliage to prevent nest predation (4) (6). A small, single clutch is produced, containing two to four eggs. Incubation typically lasts 16 to 17 days, and the young remain in the nest for a further 12 to 15 days after hatching.
Species of the Basileuterus genus have complex social systems. Juveniles remain with the adult birds throughout the year, helping to protect the nest and watch for predators, and may subsequently inherit the territory. Territories are permanent and must be protected year round, and both the male and female aggressively defend the territory against intruders of the same species (4).