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Orange-crowned Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Orange-crowned Warblers aren’t the most dazzling birds in their family, but they’re a useful one to learn. These grayish to olive-green birds vary in color geographically and have few bold markings. There’s rarely any sign of an orange crown, which is usually only visible when the bird is excited and raises its head feathers. They might have you scratching your head until you recognize their slim shape, sharply pointed bill, and warmer yellow under the tail. These busy birds forage low in shrubs, and are one of the few warblers that's more common in the West than the East.


Male Orange-crowned Warblers sing a trilling song of sweet, clear notes. The song can remain on a single pitch or it can rise slightly in the middle and end on a distinctive rising or falling note—chee chee chee chew chew. The song pattern varies enough that individual males can be told apart by the version they sing.


  • song
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Orange-crowned Warbler call is a simple, sharp, high-pitched chip, distinctive from that of other warblers. Males and females give the call when foraging, and females call when flushed from the nest or when the nest is threatened.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Orange-crowned Warblers sometimes visit feeders for suet, peanut butter, or sugar water.

Find This Bird

In the East, Orange-crowned Warblers are somewhat scarce, although you may find them by watching for them in late spring and late fall (primarily October) or throughout the winter in the southeastern US in low, dense habitats. Listen carefully for the high and sharp call note that the species gives frequently. In the West the species is common, often among the most abundant three warbler species on migration. On the breeding grounds listen for their rapidly trilled song. It’s similar to a Chipping Sparrow, but it descends in pitch at the end. Western birds migrate earlier than eastern birds in both spring and fall and use nearly any vegetated habitats.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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