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Bay-breasted Warbler

Setophaga castanea ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: PARULIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large warbler of the northern spruce forests, the Bay-breasted Warbler benefits from spruce budworm outbreaks when the caterpillars provide abundant food. Spraying to control the destructive outbreaks may have reduced populations of this warbler.

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Appearance

Warblers
Warblers
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird; large warbler.
  • Breeding male with black face and chestnut head.
  • Two broad white wingbars.
  • Rufous on flanks.

Male Description

Breeding (Alternate) plumage: Crown, throat, and sides deep chestnut brown. Cream colored patch on back of neck. Belly whitish. Back gray with black stripes. Two broad white wingbars on each wing. Undertail coverts buffy. Eye dark. Legs black.
Nonbreeding (Basic) plumage: Crown, nape, and upperparts yellowish olive green, streaked with black. Rump grayish. Flanks striped with chestnut. Indistinct yellow eyestripe. Wings and tail blackish. Two broad white wingbars on each wing. Pale patch on back of neck. Buffy undertail coverts.

Female Description

Breeding (Alternate) plumage: Sides washed with variable amounts of chestnut. Face gray. Creamy patch on back of neck. Throat buffy, tinged with chestnut. Back olive-gray with indistinct black stripes. Rump olive-gray and unstreaked. Wings with two broad white wingbars. White spots near tip of outer two tail feathers.
Nonbreeding (Basic) plumage: Crown, nape, and upperparts yellowish olive green, streaked with black. Rump grayish. Flanks striped with light chestnut or buff. Indistinct yellow eyestripe. Wings and tail blackish. Two broad white wingbars on each wing. Pale patch on back of neck. Buffy undertail coverts.

Immature Description

Similar to fall adult, but with less chestnut, more olive, and finer streaking on back. Still shows two broad wingbars and hint of pale neck patch.

Range Map Help

Bay-breasted Warbler Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • Chestnut-sided Warbler has white chest and yellow-green crown, with the chestnut restricted to two lines down either side of the breast.
  • In fall, very similar to Blackpoll Warbler. Blackpoll does not have buffy or rufous along sides, has streaking on underparts, white undertail coverts, more defined eyestripe, and pale legs and/or feet.
  • Pine Warbler is unstreaked on back and has white undertail coverts.

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