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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 Oreothlypis 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.
  • The oldest recorded Tennessee Warbler was at least 4 years, 7 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in the West Indies. It had been banded in Pennsylvania.



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

Tennessee Warbler populations declined in some areas, but remained stable in others, between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 70 million with 100% breeding in Canada, and 14% wintering in Mexico. All Tennessee Warblers migrate through the U.S. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Tennessee Warbler is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Populations may fluctuate widely, depending on spruce budworm outbreaks.


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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