Lucy's Warbler is found in the southwestern United States, mainly in Arizona and New Mexico. They are also found in the lower parts of Nevada and California. They migrate to Mexico in the winter.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: southeastern California, southern Nevada, Utah, southwestern Colorado (accidental, or formerly) south to northeastern Baja California, southern Arizona and northern Sonora, and east to extreme western Texas. NON-BREEDING: western Mexico, from Jalisco south to Guerrero (AOU 1983) and sparingly north to southern Sinaloa and Durango.
Lucy's Warbler is a small bird about 11 centimeters in length. The beak is very pointed, and thin. The back area is a pale grey color, and the underside is white. The males differ from the females by a small, rust colored patch on the crown.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Length: 11 cm
Weight: 7 grams
Catalog Number: USNM 31892
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): J. Cooper
Year Collected: 1861
Locality: Fort Mojave, Mohave, Arizona, United States, North America
Consists of scrub thickets that are usually near water. They are midstory to canopy nesters.
Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: BREEDING: Deserts, mesquite along streams, riparian woodlands (willows and cottonwoods). Nests in tree cavity, behind bark, in abandoned woodpecker hole or verdin nest. NON-BREEDING: During migration and winter: dry washes, riparian forest, and thorn forest.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No 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.
Arrives in Arizona by late March (Terres 1980).
Vermivora luciae feeds on insects. The very pointed bill helps it to probe for its food in small cracks and crevices.
Comments: Feeds primarily on insects. Forages in foliage and flowers, in mesquites and other desert vegetation.
Eggs/young preyed on by lizards, snakes, woodrats, and Gila woodpeckers.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Status: wild: 70 months.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Little is known about the reproduction of Lucy's Warbler. It is thought that two eggs are laid at a time. Incubation time is unknown. Lucy's Warbler breeds near water. It is not known if one or both parents care for the young.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Average time to hatching: 11 days.
Clutch size 3-7 (usually 4-5) (Harrison 1978). Female may desert nest if disturbed. Female has been observed doing most of the work of nest building. Possibly 2 broods/season (Bureau of Land Management, no date).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Vermivora luciae
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 luciae
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
There are no conservation efforts being made at this time regarding Lucy's warbler. The population, however, is declining due to loss of habitat.
(National Audubon Society, 2000)
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Lucy's Warbler does not appear to negatively affect humans or the environment.
Lucy's Warbler does not appear to have any positive affects on humans or the environment.
Lucy's warbler (Oreothlypis luciae) is a small New World warbler found in North America. This species ranges includes southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is one of only two warblers to nest in cavities.
Lucy's warbler is the smallest species of New World warbler. It measures from 9 to 12 cm (3.5 to 4.7 in) in length and can weigh from 5.1 to 7.9 g (0.18 to 0.28 oz), thus being slightly smaller even than the warblers formerly found in the Parula genus. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 49 to 61 mm (1.9 to 2.4 in), the tail is 33 to 41 mm (1.3 to 1.6 in), the bill is 7.8 to 9 mm (0.31 to 0.35 in) and the tarsus is 15 to 17.5 mm (0.59 to 0.69 in).
It is rather nondescript compared to other wood-warblers, being perhaps the palest species in its family. Its head and upperparts are pale gray, while underparts are whitish. It has a white eyering and a small, pointed bill. Both sexes have a rufous rump, a diagnostic field mark. Adult males also have a small rusty patch on their crown. Juveniles are paler, with a tawny rump and buffy wingbars.
Lucy's warbler is closely related to Virginia's warbler, Nashville warbler and Colima warbler. The common name and binomial of this species commemorate Lucy Hunter Baird, daughter of ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird.
Lucy's warblers inhabit riparian mesquite and brushy country of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It can nest in the driest vegetated stretches of the Sonora Desert and nest in possibly the driest habitats of any New World warbler.
Lucy's is the only warbler besides prothonotary to nest in cavities. It uses natural cavities in cactus or trees or holes excavated by woodpeckers or verdin in prior years. Unlike the prothonotary, Lucy's warbler has not been known to utilize man-made nest boxes. If using a woodpecker hole, the warbler may fill the cavity nearly to the top with debris and put the nest on top so the small birds can see outside of it. This species nests in some of the densest aggregations of any warbler, with as many as 12 pairs per ha/5 pairs per acre. The birds migrate to western Mexico in winter.
These strictly insectivorous birds forage actively, looking for the caterpillars, beetles, and leafhoppers that compose much of their diet. When they capture caterpillars, they shake it vigorously and skin off the prickly hairs on the backs before consumption.
Habitat loss is the main threat to this species, with riparian habitats in its range being developed extensive. To a lesser extent, brown-headed cowbird parasitism is also threatening this species. Populations are diminishing throughout its breeding range.
- New World Warblers (Helm Field Guides) by Jon Curson. Christopher Helm Publishers (1993). 978-0713639322.
- Robbins, C., B. Bruun, H. Zim. 1996. Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Formerly (AOU 1983, 1998) placed in the genus Vermivora, transferred to Oreothlypis by AOU (2010).