At a Glance
A young man named Elliott Coues, later to become a leading ornithologist, discovered this bird in Arizona in 1864; perhaps homesick, he asked that it be named after his sister. Grace's Warbler is still common in the Southwest as a summer resident in mountain forests. It spends most of its time high in pine trees, where the male sings his thin rising chatter and where the female builds a neat, cup-shaped nest among a cluster of pine needles.
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
Arroyos and Canyons, Forests and Woodlands
California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Flitter
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
In the Southwest, arrives mostly in April and departs mostly by early September. Very rare autumn stray west to California coast, but it has wintered there several times.
4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Gray above, white below, with yellow throat and short yellow eyebrow. Thin dark streaks on sides. Female and young like adult male but duller. Compare to "Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Blue, Gray, White, Yellow
Songs and Calls
Song is a short musical trill, faster toward the end: che che che che che-che-che-che. Call is a soft chip.
Pine-oak forests of mountains. During the breeding season, found mainly in the tops of pines, sometimes also in spruce, fir, and oak thickets in higher mountains of the Southwest. In winter in Mexico, inhabits pine-oak woods in the mountains.
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3-4. Creamy white, spotted with browns around larger end. Details and timing of incubation are not well known. Young: Nestlings are fed by female, probably by male as well. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known. Normally 2 broods per year.
Nestlings are fed by female, probably by male as well. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known. Normally 2 broods per year.
During the breeding season, often forages by flying out from the treetops to catch insects in mid-air. Also searches among branches and twigs and hovers briefly while picking insects from foliage, spending most of its time in the tops of the taller pine trees.
Presumably mostly insects. Details of diet are not well known; undoubtedly eats mostly insects, like other warblers.
Details of breeding behavior are not well known. In the Southwest, arrives on breeding grounds mostly in early April. Males defend nesting territories by singing. Nest: Placed on a horizontal branch or in the top crown of tree, usually pine, sometimes fir, 20-60' above the ground. Nest (built by female) is a tightly constructed open cup made of plant fibers, oak catkins, plant down, and webs of spiders and caterpillars; lined with animal hair and feathers. Nest is often well hidden among a cluster of pine needles.
Numbers in our area probably stable. Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat in mountains of Mexico and Central America.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Grace's Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Grace's 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.