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Tennessee Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A dainty warbler of the Canadian boreal forest, the Tennessee Warbler specializes in eating the spruce budworm. Consequently its population goes up and down with fluctuations in the populations of the budworm.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
3.9–5.1 in
10–13 cm
7.9 in
20 cm
0.3–0.5 oz
8–13 g
Other Names
  • Paruline obscure, la fauvette obscure (French)
  • Chipe peregrino, Reinita verdilla (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Tennessee Warbler breeds no closer to the state of Tennessee than northern Michigan, more than 600 miles away, and it winters some 1,400 miles away in southern Mexico and southward. It was given its name in 1811 by Alexander Wilson who first encountered the bird in Tennessee during its migration.
  • Males of most other warblers in the genus Vermivora have small, concealed patches of red or orange feathers on the tops of their heads. The Tennessee Warbler usually does not, but a very few males have a few reddish feathers there.
  • The Tennessee Warbler is a common nectar "thief" on its wintering grounds in tropical forests. Instead of probing a flower from the front to get the nectar, and spreading pollen on its face in the process, the warbler pierces the flower tube at its base and gets the reward without performing any pollination.



Breeds in boreal forest, in open areas containing grasses, dense shrubs, and young deciduous trees. Winters in open second growth forests and agricultural habitats, such as shade coffee plantations



Invertebrates, especially moth caterpillars, fruit, and nectar.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–8 eggs
Egg Description
White, speckled with reddish brown.
Condition at Hatching
Nest Description

Open cup of dead grass, weed stems, dried leaves, twigs, or bark strips, lined with fine grass, moss, rootlets, or hair. Placed on ground, often hidden in hummock of sphagnum moss or at base of small shrub or tree.

Nest Placement



Foliage Gleaner

Gleans insects from outer foliage of trees and shrubs. Pecks base of flowers to get nectar.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

No evidence of population declines. Populations fluctuate widely, depending on spruce budworm outbreaks.


  • Rimmer, C. C., and K. P. McFarland. 1998. Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrina). In The Birds of North America, No. 350 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Tennessee Warbler Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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