Bird GuideWood WarblersBlack-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Setophaga virens

At a Glance

In the east, some of the easiest warbler voices to recognize are the patterned songs of the Black-throated Green. As if to confirm the identification, the brilliantly colored male often perches out in the open to sing, perhaps on a high twig of a spruce. He actually has two song types, used in different situations: he sings zoo zee zoo zoo zee to proclaim and defend his nesting territory, and zee zee zee zoo zee in courtship or when communicating with his mate.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Low Concern
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Migrates mostly at night. Fall passage may last fairly late, extending well into October, even in the North.


5" (13 cm). Yellow face contrasts with black throat, bright moss green back and crown. Obvious white wing-bars. Female and young have black on throat partly replaced by white.
About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Green, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Thin, buzzy, lazy zeer, zeer, zeer, zeer, zee? or faster zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee.
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Hi, Whistle


Mainly conifers. Breeds mostly in coniferous and mixed forests, very locally in deciduous forest. Often nests around spruce, also in white pine, hemlock, red cedar, and jack pine. An isolated race on the southern Atlantic Coast breeds in cypress swamps. During migration, occurs widely in woodland and edges. Usually winters in foothills and mountains among oaks and pines.



4, sometimes 3-5. Gray to creamy white with spots or scrawls of reddish brown. Only female incubates, 12 days. In some areas, up to one-third of nests are parasitized by cowbirds.


Nestlings are fed only by female at first, later by male. Young leave nest 11 days after hatching. Parents split up the fledglings, each adult tending half the brood for up to 1 month.

Feeding Behavior

Searches for insects among branches, twigs, and bases of leaves, moving rapidly between foraging sites. Frequently hovers to take insects from underside of leaves. Occasionally catches insects in mid-air. Males tend to forage higher than females while breeding. In late summer, often forages in mixed flocks with chickadees.


Insects, especially caterpillars. Feeds mainly on non-hairy caterpillars during summer, as well as beetles, true bugs, gnats, aphids, and others, also spiders. Takes poison ivy berries and other berries in migration. In winter, may eat protein corpuscles of tropical cecropia trees.


Males establish territories by singing, also by chasing and fighting with intruding males. Nest sites are next to trunk where two or more small branches fork out of conifer, usually low (often only a few feet above ground). The race nesting in southern swamps places its nest well out from trunk, and often higher (to 50' or more above ground). Nest (built by both sexes) is open cup of twigs, grass, weeds, bark, spiderwebs, lined with plant fibers, hair, moss, and feathers.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Has declined as a nesting bird in parts of the northeast during recent decades. Elsewhere, still widespread and common.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Black-throated Green Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Black-throated Green Warbler

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.