• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Townsend's Warbler - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Marysan
San Diego, California, USA, April 2007
Setophaga townsendi

Dendroica townsendi


Photo © by Steve Berliner
Jennings Lodge, Oregon, February 2019

12–13 cm (4¾-5¼ in)

  • Thin pointed bill,
  • Yellow face
  • Black stripe across cheeks
  • White wing bars
  • Olive upperparts with black streaks on back and flanks
  • White belly

Adult males

  • Black cap
  • Black throat
  • Yellow lower breast

Females have a dark cap and cheek stripe, and a yellow throat.
Immature birds are similar to females with a dark green cap and cheeks.

Similar species

Black-throated Green Warbler is very similar, differing in a lighter cheek patch, a narrow yellowish band across the vent, and a whiter (less yellow) throat in females and immatures.
Golden-cheeked Warbler differs in having no yellow on the underparts, darker upperparts (black in males), and a narrower black line through the eye.


Breeds along northwestern coast of North America from southeastern Alaska and southern Yukon Territory south to Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.
Winters in west of the Rockies from Washington to California and in Mexico south to Costa Rica.
During migration seen regularly to western Texas. Rare vagrant in the eastern United States.


Forms a superspecies with Black-throated Green Warbler, Golden-cheeked Warbler, and Hermit Warbler. Hybridizes locally with the latter. Formerly placed in genus Dendroica.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Coniferous forests with large trees on the coast.



Their diet consists almost entirely of insects and arthropods. They also eat some seeds and honeydew.


They construct a bulky cup nest, formed from strips of bark, twigs, lichen and grass; it is lined with hair. It is placed on a tree branch. Their clutch contains 4-5 eggs.


Songs are high and buzzy. Type 1 song rises in pitch and often drops at end. Type 2 song is a series of short, fast buzzy notes followed by a few of the more typical rasping notes. Common call is high and sharp, similar to that of Black-throated Green Warbler


Short-distance to long-distance migrant. Birds breeding in coastal British Columbia winter mainly in California. Other populations winter in Mexico. Two widely separate wintering grounds result in separate bimodal pulses of migration.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) Townsend%27s_Warbler in Avibase - The World Bird Database. Retrieved 10 April 2020
  3. Curson, J. (2020). Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61475 on 10 April 2020).
  4. Wright, A. L., G. D. Hayward, S. M. Matsuoka, and P. H. Hayward (2020). Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.towwar.01
  5. Rohwer, S., Bermingham, E. and Wood, C. (2001), PLUMAGE AND MITOCHONDRIAL DNA HAPLOTYPE VARIATION ACROSS A MOVING HYBRID ZONE. Evolution, 55: 405-422. doi:10.1111/j.0014-3820.2001.tb01303.x
  6. BirdForum Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1