Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Nashville Warbler

Oreothlypis ruficapilla

Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since -- even though Wilson's birds were just passing through in migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage.
Conservation status Overall populations seem to be stable. Apparently nests are only seldom parasitized by cowbirds.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Cool, open mixed woods with undergrowth; forest edges, bogs. Breeds in deciduous, coniferous, and streamside woodlands, also bogs and thickets. Favors cedar and spruce bogs in northern part of range, abandoned fields and mountain pastures with saplings and young trees in eastern United States. In the west, breeds in thickets of manzanita and other shrubs near belts of pine and fir.
Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since -- even though Wilson's birds were just passing through in migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature (1st winter)
  • immature (1st winter)
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature male (1st spring)
Feeding Behavior

Forages mainly in the lower parts of trees in open woodlands and in low thickets at forest edges. Takes insects from the ground, and takes them from foliage while perching or hovering.


Eggs

Usually 4-5. White, with reddish brown spots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by both parents (but female does more), 11-12 days. Female is fed on nest by male during incubation. Young: Nestlings are fed by both parents, but mostly by the female. Young leave the nest about 11 days after hatching.


Young

Nestlings are fed by both parents, but mostly by the female. Young leave the nest about 11 days after hatching.

Diet

Insects. Adults eat beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, aphids, and other insects, including the eggs and larvae of various types. Nestlings are fed caterpillars, small beetles, flies, and other insects.


Nesting

Breeding behavior is not well known. On breeding territory, males sing from perches and also sometimes during slow, hovering display flight. Nest: Well-hidden, on the ground in a depression made in club mosses, grass, and ferns, usually under scrubby bushes or saplings. Open cup nest is made of coarse grass, ferns, and strips of bark, rimmed with moss; lined with fine grass, animal hair, or pine needles. Female builds the nest.

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

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

Migration

Birds from both eastern and western breeding populations winter mainly in Mexico. Unlike many warblers, does not migrate north across Gulf of Mexico in spring; instead, travels around Gulf, then spreads northeastward to easternmost breeding areas.

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Migration

Birds from both eastern and western breeding populations winter mainly in Mexico. Unlike many warblers, does not migrate north across Gulf of Mexico in spring; instead, travels around Gulf, then spreads northeastward to easternmost breeding areas.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud, ringing teebit-teebit-teebit, chipper-chipper-chipper-chipper; usually has 2 distinct segments.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Wood Warblers Perching Birds

Nashville Warbler

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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