|Conservation status||Has declined with clearing of forest in some areas. Becomes more vulnerable to cowbird parasitism as forest is broken up into smaller patches. Also faces loss of habitat on wintering grounds.|
|Habitat||Woodland undergrowth. In summer, prefers deep shaded woods with dense, humid thickets, bottomlands near creeks and rivers, ravines in upland deciduous woods, and edges of swamps. In winter in the tropics, requires dense lowland forests and second growth, mostly in lowlands but also in foothills.|
Forages mainly by walking on ground, seeking insects among the leaf litter, flipping over dead leaves, sometimes leaping up in the air to take insects from the underside of foliage. In winter in the tropics, sometimes accompanies swarms of army ants, picking up insects that flee the ants. Individuals defend small winter feeding territories.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. Creamy white, with brown spots. Incubation by female only, 12-13 days. Cowbirds often lay eggs in nests of this species. Young: Nestlings are fed by the female and rarely by the male. Young leave the nest 8-10 days after hatching. Both sexes then feed the fledglings for up to 17 days.
Nestlings are fed by the female and rarely by the male. Young leave the nest 8-10 days after hatching. Both sexes then feed the fledglings for up to 17 days.
Mostly insects. Feeds on various insects including moths, bugs, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, grubs; also spiders, plus a few berries.
During defense of breeding territories, males are persistent singers, singing as often as every 12 seconds. Nest: Placed on ground or within a few inches of it; at foot of shrub, in grass tussocks, bedstraw, or goldenrod, or sometimes in the lowest fork of small trees. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky, open cup of leaves, with a core of weeds, grass stems; lined with rootlets and hair.
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 mostly at night. Many fly across the Gulf of Mexico in spring and fall. Often departs from breeding grounds during August.
- 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 CallsLoud, penetrating, rich tur-dle, tur-dle, tur-dle, tur-dle, reminiscent of song of Carolina Wren.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Kentucky Warbler
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Kentucky 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.