Photo: Dan Irizarry/Flickr Creative Commons

Hooded Warbler

Setophaga citrina

In the forest undergrowth, this skulking warbler seems to call attention to itself by frequently fanning its tail quickly open and shut, flashing the white outer tail feathers. Hooded Warblers are common in moist leafy woodlands of the Southeast. They usually stay low in the shadowy understory, foraging actively in the bushes and nesting close to the ground, although males will move up into the trees to sing.
Conservation status Considered vulnerable because it is often parasitized by cowbirds, especially where forest is broken up into small patches, and because it favors undergrowth of tropical forest for wintering.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Forest undergrowth. Breeds in forest interiors of mixed hardwoods in the north and cypress-gum swamps in the south. During migration, found in deciduous and mixed eastern forests. In winter, males compete for territories in humid lowland forest and females occupy mainly disturbed scrub or secondary forest.
In the forest undergrowth, this skulking warbler seems to call attention to itself by frequently fanning its tail quickly open and shut, flashing the white outer tail feathers. Hooded Warblers are common in moist leafy woodlands of the Southeast. They usually stay low in the shadowy understory, foraging actively in the bushes and nesting close to the ground, although males will move up into the trees to sing.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature female (1st year)
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • adults with nestlings
Feeding Behavior

Hops on ground, low branches, or tree trunks while feeding, often gleaning insects from leaf surfaces in low shrubs. Will also make short flights to catch flying insects in the understory. Males may forage higher than females when feeding young. Both sexes maintain well-defined feeding territories during winter, giving conspicuous chip callnotes and attacking intruders of their own species.


Eggs

Usually 4. Creamy white, with brown spots at larger end. Incubation is normally by female only, 12 days. Brown-headed Cowbirds lay eggs in many nests (up to 75% in some areas). Young: Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest 8-9 days after hatching, and can fly 2-3 days later. Fledglings are divided by parents, each adult caring for half the brood for up to 5 weeks. Often 2 broods per year.


Young

Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest 8-9 days after hatching, and can fly 2-3 days later. Fledglings are divided by parents, each adult caring for half the brood for up to 5 weeks. Often 2 broods per year.

Diet

Insects and other arthropods. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, flies, and many others; also eats many small spiders.


Nesting

Males usually return to occupy the same nesting territory as in previous years, but females usually move to a different territory. Nest: Female chooses site in patches of deciduous shrubs within forest or along edge. Site usually 1-4' above ground. Nest is open cup of dead leaves, bark, fine grasses, spiderwebs, hair, and plant down. Usually the female does most or all of the building.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Many fly north and south across the Gulf of Mexico during migration. A rare stray in the Southwest, where many of the records are for spring or summer.

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Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Many fly north and south across the Gulf of Mexico during migration. A rare stray in the Southwest, where many of the records are for spring or summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Clear, ringing tawee-tawee-tawee-tee-o.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.