Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Grace's Warbler

Setophaga graciae

A young man named Elliott Coues, later to become a leading ornithologist, discovered this bird in Arizona in 1864; perhaps homesick, he asked that it be named after his sister. Grace's Warbler is still common in the Southwest as a summer resident in mountain forests. It spends most of its time high in pine trees, where the male sings his thin rising chatter and where the female builds a neat, cup-shaped nest among a cluster of pine needles.
Conservation status Numbers in our area probably stable. Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat in mountains of Mexico and Central America.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Pine-oak forests of mountains. During the breeding season, found mainly in the tops of pines, sometimes also in spruce, fir, and oak thickets in higher mountains of the Southwest. In winter in Mexico, inhabits pine-oak woods in the mountains.
A young man named Elliott Coues, later to become a leading ornithologist, discovered this bird in Arizona in 1864; perhaps homesick, he asked that it be named after his sister. Grace's Warbler is still common in the Southwest as a summer resident in mountain forests. It spends most of its time high in pine trees, where the male sings his thin rising chatter and where the female builds a neat, cup-shaped nest among a cluster of pine needles.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature male (1st year)
  • adult male
Feeding Behavior

During the breeding season, often forages by flying out from the treetops to catch insects in mid-air. Also searches among branches and twigs and hovers briefly while picking insects from foliage, spending most of its time in the tops of the taller pine trees.


Eggs

3-4. Creamy white, spotted with browns around larger end. Details and timing of incubation are not well known. Young: Nestlings are fed by female, probably by male as well. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known. Normally 2 broods per year.


Young

Nestlings are fed by female, probably by male as well. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known. Normally 2 broods per year.

Diet

Presumably mostly insects. Details of diet are not well known; undoubtedly eats mostly insects, like other warblers.


Nesting

Details of breeding behavior are not well known. In the Southwest, arrives on breeding grounds mostly in early April. Males defend nesting territories by singing. Nest: Placed on a horizontal branch or in the top crown of tree, usually pine, sometimes fir, 20-60' above the ground. Nest (built by female) is a tightly constructed open cup made of plant fibers, oak catkins, plant down, and webs of spiders and caterpillars; lined with animal hair and feathers. Nest is often well hidden among a cluster of pine needles.

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

Migration

In the Southwest, arrives mostly in April and departs mostly by early September. Very rare autumn stray west to California coast, but it has wintered there several times.

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Migration

In the Southwest, arrives mostly in April and departs mostly by early September. Very rare autumn stray west to California coast, but it has wintered there several times.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song is a short musical trill, faster toward the end: che che che che che-che-che-che. Call is a soft chip.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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