Cape May Warbler Life History


Habitat ForestsBreeds in coniferous forest. Winters in various habitats, including settled areas.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects, especially spruce budworms, during the breeding season; nectar and insects in winter.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nest Description

A bulky cup of sphagnum moss, twigs, pine needles, and bark, lined with hair and feathers. Placed near top of spruce tree.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:4-9 eggs
Egg Description:White with reddish-brown blotches.
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Behavior Foliage GleanerUsually picks insects from vegetation while perched, but also hawks insects. Curled tongue aids in collection of nectar.Back to top


Conservation DecliningCape May Warbler populations declined by over 2.5% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 72%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 7 million with 2% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 1% in Mexico, and 98% breeding in Canada. Cape May Warbler is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. It rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. The 2014 State of the Birds Report listed Cape May Warbler as a Common Bird in Steep Decline, and it is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. Use of certain combinations of insecticides to control spruce budworms causes steep declines in Cape May Warbler numbers. Other pesticides may have no effect. Logging, especially in the western portion of the species' range, may eventually pose risks to the Cape May Warbler because of reduced availability of the mature forests needed to support spruce budworms.Back to top


Baltz, Michael E. and Steven C. Latta. 1998. Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Stephenson, T. and S. Whittle (2013). The Warbler Guide. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA. 

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