At a Glance
Known by its necklace of short stripes, the Canada Warbler is a summer resident of moist, shady woods in the East. It usually stays in the understory, feeding in the bushes or on the ground. Sometimes hard to see in this dense cover, it is not especially shy, and a patient observer can usually get good looks. Although it does breed in Canada, it also nests in the higher Appalachians as far south as Georgia.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
Migrates late in spring and early in fall; peak passage in many areas during May and August. In spring, most apparently move north through Central America and Mexico, then around west side of Gulf of Mexico rather than flying across it.
5" (13 cm). Necklace of sharp black streaks on yellow breast, most obvious on adult males, faint on some young females. Bold eye-ring. Blue-gray above, no wing-bars or tail spots.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Blue, Gray, White, Yellow
Songs and Calls
A rapid, sputtering warble.
Chirp/Chip, Hi, Whistle
Forest undergrowth, shady thickets. Breeds in mature mixed hardwoods of extensive forests and streamside thickets. Prefers to nest in moist habitat: in luxuriant undergrowth, near swamps, on stream banks, in rhododendron thickets, in deep, rocky ravines and in moist deciduous second-growth. Winters in a variety of habitats in South America, from forest undergrowth to scrub.
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4, sometimes 3-5. Creamy white with brown spots. Incubation is probably by female, possibly with help from male; length of the incubation period is not well known.
Both parents care for nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.
Very active in foraging, does more flycatching than most warblers. Typically flushes insects from foliage while foraging on twigs and leaves, then frequently darts out catch escaping insects on the wing. Also searches on the ground among fallen leaves. In winter in the tropics, forages in mixed flocks with other birds, usually 3-30' above ground in denser foliage.
Largely insects. Feeds on many kinds of insects, including beetles, mosquitoes, flies, moths, and smooth caterpillars such as cankerworms; also spiders.
Males arrive on breeding grounds during the first two weeks of May. Sometimes pairs may arrive together, as migrants have been seen traveling in pairs in Central America. Nest: Placed on or within 6" of the ground, on sphagnum hummocks, in hollows in streambanks, on moss-covered logs, or in cavities among the upturned roots of fallen trees. Nest (built by female) is bulky open cup, loosely constructed of dead leaves or leaf skeletons, bark strips, grasses, weeds, ferns; lined with fern roots, horsehair, and plant fibers.
Favoring shady forest undergrowth in summer and winter, this warbler could be vulnerable to loss of habitat with clearing of forest.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Canada Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Canada 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.