Hermit WarblerSetophaga occidentalis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
The Hermit Warbler's golden face shines like a beacon as it flits through Pacific Northwest mountain forests. This natty gray-and-white warbler hunts insects high in pine, Douglas-fir, spruce, and other conifers. In summer, its buzzy song drifts down to the forest floor. On wintering grounds, in the cool pine-oak forests of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, Hermit Warblers forage among flocks of warblers and other birds, often just above eye level. Hermit Warblers are close relatives of Townsend's Warblers and the two species hybridize where their ranges come together.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Listen for the buzzy, rising songs of Hermit Warblers in springtime on calm mornings. These small birds can be hard to see some 80–100 feet up in a tree, so try walking along a road that descends along the flank of a mountain. That will put the treetops nearer to eye level and make these birds much easier to see. Be aware that Hermit/Townsend's Warbler hybrids can sound similar to pure Hermit Warblers, so try to see the singer to confirm your identification.
- Reinita Cabecigualda (Spanish)
- Paruline à tête jaune (French)
- Cool Facts
- John Kirk Townsend first described and named this warbler in 1837 from a pair collected at Fort Vancouver (now Vancouver, Washington) near the Columbia River.
- Hermit and Townsend's Warblers are "sister species"—they're each other’s closest relatives. It's estimated that they became distinct species sometime in the late Pleistocene, an epoch that ended 11,700 years ago.
- In addition to its close relationship to Townsend's Warbler, the Hermit Warbler is also closely related to the Black-throated Green Warbler and Golden-cheeked Warbler—all black-and-gray warblers with golden-yellow faces. Taken together, these four species are known as a superspecies.
- Hermit Warblers hybridize with Townsend's Warblers in Oregon and Washington. The hybrid zones are rather narrow and appear to be slowly moving northward, with the more aggressive Townsend's Warbler displacing the Hermit Warbler.
- Some Hermit Warbler females seem to prefer to mate with Townsend's Warbler-type males, but there's no evidence of Townsend's Warbler females mating with Hermit Warbler males.
- The oldest recorded Hermit Warbler was a female, and at least 9 years, 1 month old when she was recaptured and rereleased in California in 2006.