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MacGillivray's Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A furtive bird of forest edges and thickets, MacGillivray's Warbler breeds across much of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. In appearance, voice, habits, and winter range, it resembles its close relative, the Mourning Warbler, but the breeding ranges of the two species do not overlap.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
3.9–5.9 in
10–15 cm
7.5 in
19 cm
0.3–0.5 oz
9–13 g
Other Names
  • Paruline des buissons (French)
  • Chipe cabecigiris de Tolmie, Reinita de tupidero, Reinita de MacGillivray, Verderón de Tolmie, Verdin de Tolmie (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • MacGillivray's Warbler and Mourning Warbler are now considered distinct species, but in the recent past, they have been considered to be the same species on the basis of similar plumages and possible cases of hybridization where their ranges overlap. Size disparity (MacGillivray's is smaller), consistent differences in morphology and song, and physical separation of breeding ranges supports the recognition of separate species.
  • MacGillivray's Warbler nests from near sea level to as high as 3,000 meters (9842 ft) in elevation.
  • MacGillivray's Warbler was named by John James Audubon for his friend and editor, Dr. W. MacGillivray. Audubon coined this name even though John Kirk Townsend had already named the species "Tolmie's Warbler," after Dr. W. T. Tolmie.
  • The oldest recorded MacGillivray's Warbler was a male, and at least 4 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Oregon.


Open Woodland

Clear-cuts in coniferous forest, mixed deciduous forest, and riparian areas and thickets. Requires dense understory.





Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white, with variable tints and speckling.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and naked.
Nest Description

An open cup of coarse grass and other plant fiber, placed at or near ground level under dense shrub cover.

Nest Placement



Foliage Gleaner

Feeds at or just above ground level. Usually gleans from low branches.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

MacGillivray's Warbler populations declined by about 35% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a total breeding population of 12 million, with 43% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 84% in Mexico, and 56% breeding in Canada. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. MacGillivray's Warbler is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. This warbler has a preference for cleared or regenerating land, and therefore has probably benefited from human land-use practices such as logging and mining.


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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