The history of this small, brightly colored warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) is closely tied to South Carolina. The species was discovered by the Reverend John Bachman in 1832 on the Edisto River a few miles north of Jacksonborough. In 1833 John J. Audubon painted a male and named the species after his friend Bachman. The Bachman’s warbler is believed to be extinct. The last acceptable report was made in 1958, when John H. Dick photographed a male in Charleston County near the original discovery site.
Based on historical collections, the Bachman’s warbler is believed to have once been common and widespread in the Southeast. The warbler inhabited the edges or open interiors of swamps. Most of the few nests that have been found were in thickets of cane and brambles.
Initially the species apparently benefited from the activities of early settlers, both Indians and Europeans, who created suitable openings in the forest. By 1900, however, the species had become rare, perhaps due to extensive destruction of hardwood swamps for agriculture. At the same time, large areas of the warbler’s wintering grounds in Cuba were destroyed for agriculture.
No Bachman’s warblers have been found on territory since 1961. Through 1978 at least six reports had been made from I’On Swamp, north of Charleston. Despite extensive searches, none of these has been verified.
Hamel, Paul B. Bachman’s Warbler: A Species in Peril. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986.
———. “Bachman’s Warbler (Vermivora bachmanii ).” In The Birds of North America, no. 150. Philadelphia, Pa.: Academy of Natural Sciences, 1995.