Bird GuideWood WarblersHermit Warbler

At a Glance

This warbler nests in forests of fir, hemlock, and other conifers, in the mountains and along the coast, from California north to Washington. It also winters locally on the California coast, almost always in conifers. No more of a 'hermit' than other warblers, it often joins mixed flocks of birds in the mountain pine forests during migration. This species is closely related to Townsend's Warbler, and the two often interbreed where their ranges meet in Washington and Oregon.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Low Concern
Arroyos and Canyons, Forests and Woodlands, High Mountains
California, Northwest, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Migrates most commonly north along the Pacific Coast in spring and south through the mountains in fall. Southward migration begins early, with many on the move in August or even late July.


4 1/2" (11 cm). Plain yellow face, gray back, white underparts. Throat patch black on adult males, veiled on others, may be missing on young females in fall. Often interbreeds with Townsend's Warbler, producing intermediate hybrids.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Green, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A series of high notes, somewhat less buzzy than the song of a Townsend's Warbler; recalls Yellow Warbler song in pattern but less emphatic. Call is a soft chup.
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising, Undulating
Call Type
Buzz, Chirp/Chip, Hi


Conifer forests; in migration, conifers and deciduous woods. Breeds mostly in moist, dense forests near sea level, especially in forests of Douglas-fir, hemlock, and western redcedar. Also nests in cooler, wetter forests of fir and other trees at higher elevations. In winter found in pine-oak forests of mountains in Mexico, also in oaks and conifers along California coast.



4-5, sometimes 3. Creamy, with fine brown flecks in wreath at larger end. Incubation is probably by both parents, probably about 12 days. This species apparently is almost never parasitized by cowbirds.


Fed by female and possibly by male as well. Young leave the nest 8-10 days after hatching.

Feeding Behavior

Forages mainly in the canopy of tall trees, sometimes up to 200' above the ground. Males often forage higher than females. Takes insects from twigs while perching and while hovering, and flies out to catch insects in mid-air. Moves from trunk of tree out to branch tips, then begins again at trunk. Will hang from twigs like a chickadee. In migration and winter, often forages in flocks with other birds.


Mostly insects. Has been observed feeding on caterpillars, tiny beetles, and flying insects; also small spiders.


Males arrive on the breeding grounds in early May, and establish territories by singing. The first eggs are laid by the first part of June. Nest: Typical site is on horizontal branch, well out from trunk and 20-40' above the ground. Nest is a compact, deep, open cup of fibrous weeds stalks, pine needles, twigs, lichen, moss, cobwebs, and lined with soft material such as soft bark, feathers, and animal hair. Female alone builds nest.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat with cutting of northwestern forests. Still common within its range.

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 Hermit Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Hermit 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.

Explore More