Orange-crowned WarblerOreothlypis celata

adult male, Pacific
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
immature (1st fall)
Dustin Huntington/VIREO
adult male, Interior West
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male Pacific
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult, Northern
Robert Royse/VIREO

Family

Description

One of the plainest of warblers, the orange feathers on its head almost never visible, this species is also among the most hardy. In winter, when most warblers are deep in the tropics, Orange-crowns are common in the southern states. They are usually seen singly, sometimes loosely associated with flocks of other birds. At all seasons they tend to stay fairly low, in bushes or small trees, flicking their tails frequently as they search among the foliage for insects.

Habitat

Brushy clearings, aspens, undergrowth. Breeds in shrubby vegetation, usually deciduous undergrowth in various habitats, including spruce forest, fir-aspen forest, streamside thickets, or chaparral with partly shaded ground. During migration and winter, uses brushy tangles in similar habitat, including gardens and parks.

Feeding Diet

Mostly insects, some berries. In summer eats mostly insects, feeding nestlings almost exclusively on insect larvae. In winter, will feed on oozing sap from wells drilled in tree bark by sapsuckers or other woodpeckers. On tropical wintering grounds, feeds on insects, nectar, and berries. Will take suet and peanut butter from feeders.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by flitting from perch to perch, taking insects from foliage and flowers, often fairly low. Will hover to take prey from underside of leaves, or sally out from perch for flying insects. Pierces bases of flowers with its bill to take nectar.

Nesting

Males arrive on breeding grounds before females, and establish territory by singing. Typically males return to territories defended the previous year. Nest: Nest site is protected from above by overhanging vegetation, usually on the ground in small depressions or on steep banks. Occasionally low in shrubby bushes or trees. Female builds small, open cup nest of leaves, fine twigs, bark, coarse grass and moss; lined with dry grass or animal hair. Male does not help with nest building, but accompanies the female closely. Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6. White or creamy, with reddish-brown speckles mostly at larger end. Only females incubate, 11-13 days. Young: Fed by both parents, but brooded only by female. Leave nest at age of 10-13 days, when they still fly poorly. Both parents feed young for at least a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.

Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-6. White or creamy, with reddish-brown speckles mostly at larger end. Only females incubate, 11-13 days. Young: Fed by both parents, but brooded only by female. Leave nest at age of 10-13 days, when they still fly poorly. Both parents feed young for at least a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.

Young

Fed by both parents, but brooded only by female. Leave nest at age of 10-13 days, when they still fly poorly. Both parents feed young for at least a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.

Conservation

Numbers seem stable. Unlike some warblers, because of its wintering range and habitat, unlikely to be affected by cutting of tropical forest habitats.

Range

Compared to most warblers, migrates relatively early in spring. Fall migration is relatively late in the east (where uncommon), spread over a long period in the west.

Listen

songs #3
alarm chips
songs #1
songs #2

Similar Species

adult

Arctic Warbler

Along willow-lined streams in Alaska in summer, the song of the Arctic Warbler is unmistakable: a slow trill, with an insistent or hammering sound. When the bird hops into view among the branches, it is less distinctive, plain olive and whitish with a pale eyebrow. In fall, the Arctic Warbler crosses the Bering Strait and migrates south in Asia.

adult male, breeding

Black-throated Blue Warbler

The lazy, buzzy song of the Black-throated Blue Warbler comes from the undergrowth of leafy eastern woods. Although the bird usually keeps to the shady understory, it is not especially shy; a birder who walks quietly on trails inside the forest may observe it closely. It moves about rather actively in its search for insects, but often will forage in the same immediate area for minutes at a time, rather than moving quickly through the forest like some warblers.

adult male, Interior West, breeding

Yellow Warbler

The bright, sweet song of the Yellow Warbler is a familiar sound in streamside willows and woodland edges. This is one of our most widely distributed warblers, nesting from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, with closely related forms along tropical coastlines. Their open, cuplike nests are easy to find, and cowbirds often lay eggs in them. Yellow Warblers in some areas thwart these parasites by building a new floor over the cowbird eggs and laying a new clutch of their own.

adult male, Interior

Common Yellowthroat

Abundant and well-known, the Common Yellowthroat has succeeded by being a nonconformist. As the only one of our warblers that will nest in open marshes, it is found in practically every reed-bed and patch of cattails from coast to coast. Although it sometimes hides in the marsh, its low rough callnote will reveal its presence. The male often perches atop a tall stalk to rap out his distinctive song, wichity-wichity-wichity.

adult male

Lucy's Warbler

Small, pale, and plain, this bird is unimpressive in appearance, but it is notable as the only warbler that nests in the hot deserts of the Southwest. Lucy's Warblers return to the desert early in spring, and pairs can be found foraging in brush along the washes even before the mesquites have leafed out. Unlike most warblers, they raise their young in cavities, placing their nests inside old woodpecker holes or under loose slabs of bark.

adult male, breeding

Tennessee Warbler

This bird is found in Tennessee only briefly, during spring and fall migration; but there is no point in giving it a more descriptive name, because the bird itself is nondescript. The male makes up for his plain appearance with a strident staccato song, surprisingly loud for the size of the bird. Nesting in northern forests, the Tennessee Warbler goes through population cycles: it often becomes very numerous during population explosions of the spruce budworm, a favored food.

adult male

Nashville Warbler

Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since -- even though Wilson's birds were just passing through in migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage.

adult

Warbling Vireo

Rather plain, but with a cheery warbled song, the Warbling Vireo is a common summer bird in leafy groves and open woods from coast to coast. Because it avoids solid tracts of mature, unbroken forest, it is probably more common and widespread today than it was when the Pilgrims landed. Some scientists believe that eastern and western Warbling Vireos may represent two different species; if that is true, then the two are very difficult to tell apart in the wild.

adult

Philadelphia Vireo

This bird of the treetops is rather uncommon and often overlooked, or passed off as another vireo. It looks somewhat like a Warbling Vireo, and its song of short phrases sounds much like that of a Red-eyed Vireo. In some places where it overlaps with the Red-eye, the two species will even defend territories against each other. Despite its name, this vireo is only an uncommon migrant around Philadelphia, and does not nest in that region.

Vireo

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