Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Colima Warbler

Oreothlypis crissalis

In our area, this Mexican species occurs only in Big Bend National Park in western Texas. There it is fairly common in summer at upper elevations in the Chisos Mountains, but seeing it requires a day-long hike or a lengthy horseback ride. The Colima is larger than most warblers and tends to be sluggish, foraging deliberately in the dense undergrowth or in the lower levels of the oaks.
Conservation status Numbers in Texas vary from year to year, probably always fewer than 200 pairs. More numerous in northern Mexico, but would be vulnerable to loss of habitat.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Oak-pine canyons. Breeds above 6000' in montane forests of pine, juniper, oak, and madrone; or in oak-maple-Arizona cypress habitats. Key plants in habitat used by nesting birds in Texas include Mexican pinyon, Grave's oak, gray oak, Texas madrone, beargrass, mountain mahogany, silktassel, mountain sage, Chisos prickly-pear, and pinyon-ricegrass. Prefers canyons and slopes. In winter in Mexico, found in humid pine-oak habitat with brushy understory.
In our area, this Mexican species occurs only in Big Bend National Park in western Texas. There it is fairly common in summer at upper elevations in the Chisos Mountains, but seeing it requires a day-long hike or a lengthy horseback ride. The Colima is larger than most warblers and tends to be sluggish, foraging deliberately in the dense undergrowth or in the lower levels of the oaks.
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  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Moves rather deliberately while foraging, more like a vireo than like most active warblers. Typically, warblers in this genus do much probing of buds and flowers. In winter in Mexico, probably defends feeding territories, usually observed foraging alone or in pairs rather than in flocks.


Eggs

Usually 4. Creamy with wreath of brown spots at larger end. Incubated by both parents, about 12 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings, but males do less than females, spending more time in defending territory. Young leave the nest 11 days after hatching, are independent of parents by a few days later.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings, but males do less than females, spending more time in defending territory. Young leave the nest 11 days after hatching, are independent of parents by a few days later.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet not known in detail, undoubtedly feeds mostly on insects. Wasp galls from oaks, spiders, crane flies, and other flies are among favorite foods early in the breeding season. Nestlings are fed many small green moth larvae.


Nesting

Males defend nesting territories by singing and calling; sometimes physically attack territorial intruders. Nest: Placed on ground among rocks on bank of dry wash or at edge of talus slope. Nest (built by both sexes) is well shaded and hidden in dead leaves beneath grass tufts, rocks, or tree roots. Open cup-shaped nest of loosely woven, coarse grass and cedar bark strips, dead leaves, roots, and mosses; often lined with animal hair. Pinyon-ricegrass is a favorite nest material.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Only a short-distance migrant, wintering in southwestern Mexico. In Texas, arrives in April and departs mostly in August and early September.

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Migration

Only a short-distance migrant, wintering in southwestern Mexico. In Texas, arrives in April and departs mostly in August and early September.

Songs and Calls
Song a musical seedle-seedle-seedle, sweet, sweet, like that of Virginia's Warbler. Call a sharp plisk.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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