Living Bird Magazine
Hooded WarblerSetophaga citrina
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
The Hooded Warbler flits through shrubby understories in eastern forests, flicking its tail to show off its white tail feathers. But those flashes are not the only thing that will draw your attention. The male's bright yellow cheeks and forehead surrounded by a black hood and throat will surely capture you. Females lack the bold black hood, but their yellow cheeks still stand out. Listen for their characteristic song on the breeding grounds and their metallic chip on the wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
This warbler generally hangs out in the understory of forests, which makes it easier to find than those canopy-loving warblers. On the breeding grounds listen for their song and watch for quick movements in the understory. They frequently twitch their tail to reveal white tail flashes that can help you locate and ID them. They tend to use forests with a well-developed understory, so be on the lookout for shrubby areas in treefall gaps or along edges.
- Chipe Encapuchado (Spanish)
- Paruline à capuchon (French)
Hooded Warblers do not visit feeders and may only stop off in your yard during migration, but you can still provide habitat for them by landscaping with native trees and shrubs. Creating a bird-friendly backyard can provide excellent stopover habitat to support warblers as they migrate to and from the breeding grounds. Head on over to Habitat Network to learn about which native species are good matches for your yard and more.
- Cool Facts
- Both male and female Hooded Warblers are strongly territorial on their wintering grounds, despite using different habitats at that time of year. Males are found in mature forest, and females in scrubbier forest and seasonally flooded areas.
- Individual male Hooded Warblers each sing a slightly different song. They learn to recognize their neighbor's song based not only on the song itself, but also on where the song is coming from. Their ability to recognize their neighbor may mean that they have to spend less time on territory defense.
- The white spots on a Hooded Warbler's tail help them capture more insects, possibly by startling the insects into taking flight. An experimental study conducted in Pennsylvania found that birds with temporarily darkened tail feathers were less successful at capturing insects than those with white spots on their tails.
- Male Hooded Warblers often return to the same breeding spot year after years—in one 7-year study in Pennsylvania approximately 50% of banded males returned to the area to breed again.
- The oldest recorded Hooded Warbler was a male, and at least 8 years, 1 month old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Louisiana in 2004.