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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Cape May Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Cape May Warbler breeds across the boreal forest of Canada and the northern United States, where the fortunes of its populations are largely tied to the availability of spruce budworms, its preferred food. Striking in appearance but poorly understood, the species spends its winters in the West Indies, collecting nectar with its unique curled, semitubular tongue.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Yellow chest with thin black stripes.
  • Reddish and yellow face.
  • Pale sides of neck contrast with darker face.
  • Wingbars.
  • Yellowish rump.

Male Description

Breeding (Alternate) Plumage: Chestnut or orange-brown cheek patches, contrasting with bright yellow sides of neck. Throat and breast yellow with crisp black streaks. Rump bright yellow. Crown and nape blackish. Narrow black stripe through eye. Back olive with black streaking. Large white patch in wing. White under tail. Nonbreeding (Basic) Plumage: Duller overall, with less distinct facial markings.

Female Description

Breeding (Alternate) Plumage: Head and back olive-gray. Sides of neck, throat, and breast pale yellow. Streaks on breast and sides narrow and gray. Rump yellow. Two wing bars on each wing. Nonbreeding (Basic) Plumage: Duller and less olive. Streaking less distinct.

Immature Description

Similar to adult. Immature females may be extremely dull gray overall, with only a hint of yellow on the rump.

Range Map Help

Cape May Warbler Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Male breeding

    Cape May Warbler

    Male breeding
    • © Kevin T. Karlson
  • Female, first fall

    Cape May Warbler

    Female, first fall
    • © Bill Dyer / CLO

Similar Species

  • Fall Yellow-rumped Warbler has streaks on the flanks only, not on the central breast and belly, a larger rump patch, and black streaks on the back.
  • Palm Warbler is yellow under the tail, not white, wags its tail, and has a streaked back.

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