Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Townsend's Warbler

Setophaga townsendi

The coniferous forest of the Pacific Northwest is the summer home of Townsend's Warbler. There the sharply marked males sing from high in the spruces and hemlocks; their buzzy songs are quite variable, and some are similar to those of the Black-throated Green Warbler, an eastern relative. Most Townsend's go to Mexico or Central America for the winter, but small numbers remain along the coast north to Oregon, Washington, and even Vancouver Island.
Conservation status Still common and widespread.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Tall conifers, cool fir forests; in winter, also oaks, madrones, laurels. Breeds in tall, dense coniferous forest of the Pacific Northwest, both in the humid coastal belt and in the mountains. In winter in the tropics, found mostly in mountain forests of pine, oak, and alder. Along California coast, winters in oak woods and in conifers. Migrants occur in mountain conifer forests and in streamside trees in lowlands.
The coniferous forest of the Pacific Northwest is the summer home of Townsend's Warbler. There the sharply marked males sing from high in the spruces and hemlocks; their buzzy songs are quite variable, and some are similar to those of the Black-throated Green Warbler, an eastern relative. Most Townsend's go to Mexico or Central America for the winter, but small numbers remain along the coast north to Oregon, Washington, and even Vancouver Island.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • immature male (1st winter)
  • adult female
  • adult male
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly in higher parts of trees. Searches actively among twigs for insects, often hovering briefly to take items from foliage. Sometimes flies out to catch flying insects in the air. Except in nesting season, often feeds in mixed flocks with other warblers and other small birds.


Eggs

At least 3, commonly 4-5. White with brown marks. Details of incubation not well known; may be incubated by both sexes, estimated at about 12 days. Young: Nestlings are fed by female and possibly by male. Young leave the nest about 8-10 days after hatching.


Young

Nestlings are fed by female and possibly by male. Young leave the nest about 8-10 days after hatching.

Diet

Mostly insects. While nesting, eats mainly insects, such as caterpillars, true bugs, beetles, leafhoppers, and many others; also a few spiders, seeds, and plant galls. On tropical wintering grounds, also feeds on some berries and nectar.


Nesting

Males arrive on breeding grounds in late May, and establish territories by singing. The first eggs are laid by late June. Nest: Placed directly on top of branch, usually towards the ends of horizontal conifer branches, 7'-60' above the ground. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is a large shallow cup of grass stems, mosses, cedar bark, and fir twigs; lined with moss, feathers, and hair.

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

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

Migration

Migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall. In the Southwest, migrants occur at all elevations, but most common in the mountains.

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Migration

Migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall. In the Southwest, migrants occur at all elevations, but most common in the mountains.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A rising series of notes, usually with 2 phrases, the first repeated 3 or 4 times, the second once or twice: weazy weazy weazy weazy twea or dee dee dee-de de. Call is a soft chip.
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

Townsend's 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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