Priority Bird
Conservation status Favoring shady forest undergrowth in summer and winter, this warbler could be vulnerable to loss of habitat with clearing of forest.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat 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.
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.

Feeding Behavior

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.


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. Young: Both parents care for nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.


Both parents care for nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.


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.

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

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

Download Our Bird Guide App


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.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

Learn more

Songs and Calls

A rapid, sputtering warble.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.