A small (4 ½ - 5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the Orange-crowned Warbler is most easily identified by its olive green back and wings, streaked yellow-green breast, and small orange spot on the top of its head. Other field marks include black legs, a thin black bill, and faint white eye-stripes. Male and female Orange-crowned Warblers are similar in all seasons. The Orange-crowned Warbler breeds across southern Alaska and central Canada. This species’ range extends south at higher elevations in the west as far as Arizona, Texas, and Baja California. This species migrates south in winter, when it may be found along the Pacific coast from Washington to California, in the southeastern U.S., and in Mexico south to northern portions of Central America. Orange-crowned Warblers breed in a variety of open woodland habitat types, ranging from edges of evergreen forests in Alaska to oak scrublands in California. In winter, this species utilizes similar kinds of open habitats as in summer, although populations wintering in the southern part of this species’ winter range visit humid tropical and subtropical forest edges. Orange-crowned Warblers primarily eat insects, but may also eat fruits and berries when available. Due to this species’ preference for heavily vegetated habitats, Orange-crowned Warblers are much more easily heard than seen. Birdwatchers may listen for this species’ song, a high-pitched warbling trill, or may attempt to observe it foraging for insects deep in the undergrowth. Orange-crowned Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from western and northern Alaska, Yukon, Mackenzie, northern Alberta, northern Saskatchewan, northern Manitoba, northern Ontario, central Quebec, and central Labrador south to northwestern Baja California, Nevada (locally), southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and extreme western Texas, and, east of the Rockies, to southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, northeastern North Dakota (probably), central Ontario, south-central Quebec, and southern Labrador (AOU 1998). Winter range extends from coastal British Columbia (rare) south coastally to coastal California, and from northern California, southern Nevada, central Arizona, southern New Mexico (rare), Texas( not Panhandle), central Oklahoma, central Arkansas, and across the southeastern United States to Virginia (casually northward) south to southern Baja California, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize (questionably), Yucatan Peninsula( rarely), and southern Florida, rarely to Bermuda and the Bahama Islands (AOU 1998)..
Length: 13 cm
Weight: 9 grams
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Comments: Breeding habitat includes various open, shrubby deciduous and mixed woodlands, chaparral, riparian thickets, and aspen groves (especially in Rocky Mountains region) (AOU 1998). Specific vegetation composition varies widely depending on location. Habitats during migration and winter include various wooded habitat edges, especially those with dense undergrowth (AOU 1998). Nests are on the ground or in bushes, up to about 0.6 meters above ground (Harrison 1978).
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
This warbler is a long-distance migrant throughout nearly all of United States and Canada. Eastern populations generally follow the Mississippi Valley in migration. Western populations appear to migrate through the Rocky Mountains and Pacific states.
Comments: Diet includes insects (wasps, ants, flies, caterpillars, etc.), spiders, and some small fruits. Foraging occurs usually 1-11 meters above ground. Costa Rica: takes both nectar and fruits as well as insects (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations).
Comments: Total population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 1,000,000. Rich et al. (2004) estimated population size at 76,000,000.
This species is not gregarious but will occasionally forage with other bird species.
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Clutch size is 4-6 (usually 5) (Harrison 1978).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Vermivora celata
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vermivora celata
Public Records: 22
Specimens with Barcodes: 23
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in North America; large population size; many subpopulations; no known major threats but apparently undergoing a slow decline.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 30%
Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data suggest a slow ongoing decline averaging around 10% over 10 years, which probably is close to three generations.
Global Long Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Trend over the past 200 years is unknown, but this species appears to have undergone a slow decline over the past several decades. Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a significant survey-wide decline averaging 1.1% per year during 1966-2007; this amounts to a 36% decline over this period. BBS abundance (average number of individuals per route) declined from 2.7-3.0 in the late 1960s and early 1970s to 2.0-2.4 in 2000-2007.
Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: No major threats are known. Grazing and logging practices that reduce understory thickets reduce habitat suitability for this species.
Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: Many occurrences are in protected areas.
These birds are distinguished by their lack of wing bars, streaking on the underparts, strong face marking or bright colouring, resembling a fall Tennessee warbler and a black-throated blue warbler, both of which are also members of the New World warbler family. The orange patch on the crown is usually not visible. They have olive-grey upperparts, yellowish underparts with faint streaking and a thin pointed bill. They have a faint line over their eyes and a faint broken eye ring. Females and immatures are duller in colour than males. Western birds are yellower than eastern birds.
|length||4.8–5.3 in (120–130 mm)|
|weight||9 g (0.32 oz)|
|wingspan||7.25 in (184 mm)|
|wing||56.9–62.5 mm (2.24–2.46 in)|
|tail||46–51.5 mm (1.81–2.03 in)|
|culmen||10–11.2 mm (0.39–0.44 in)|
|tarsus||16.5–18.5 mm (0.65–0.73 in)|
Their breeding habitat is open shrubby areas across Canada, Alaska and the western United States. The nest is a small open cup well-concealed on the ground under vegetation or low in shrubs. The female builds the nest; both parents feed the young.
They forage actively in low shrubs, flying from perch to perch, sometimes hovering. These birds eat insects, berries and nectar. They also enjoy peanut butter.
Four to six eggs are laid in a nest on the ground or in a low bush.
The song of this bird is a trill, descending in pitch and volume. The call is a high chip.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Vermivora celata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- Godfrey, W. Earl (1966). The Birds of Canada. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada. p. 323.
- Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf. p. 427. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.
- Peluc, S.I.; Sillett, T.S.; Rotenberry, J.T.; Ghalambor, C.K. (2008). "Adaptive plasticity in nest site selection in response to increased predation risk". Behavioral Ecology 19: 830–835.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Formerly (AOU 1983, 1998) placed in the genus Vermivora, transferred to Oreothlypis by AOU (2010).