Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Nashville Warbler

Leiothlypis ruficapilla

Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since -- even though Wilson's birds were just passing through in migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage.
Conservation status Overall populations seem to be stable. Apparently nests are only seldom parasitized by cowbirds.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Cool, open mixed woods with undergrowth; forest edges, bogs. Breeds in deciduous, coniferous, and streamside woodlands, also bogs and thickets. Favors cedar and spruce bogs in northern part of range, abandoned fields and mountain pastures with saplings and young trees in eastern United States. In the west, breeds in thickets of manzanita and other shrubs near belts of pine and fir.
Pioneer birdman Alexander Wilson encountered this bird first near Nashville, Tennessee, and it has been called Nashville Warbler ever since -- even though Wilson's birds were just passing through in migration, and the species does not nest anywhere near Tennessee. This small warbler is fairly common in both the east and the west, often seen foraging in thickets and young trees, flicking its short tail frequently as it seeks insects among the foliage.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Forages mainly in the lower parts of trees in open woodlands and in low thickets at forest edges. Takes insects from the ground, and takes them from foliage while perching or hovering.


Eggs

Usually 4-5. White, with reddish brown spots concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by both parents (but female does more), 11-12 days. Female is fed on nest by male during incubation. Young: Nestlings are fed by both parents, but mostly by the female. Young leave the nest about 11 days after hatching.


Young

Nestlings are fed by both parents, but mostly by the female. Young leave the nest about 11 days after hatching.

Diet

Insects. Adults eat beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, aphids, and other insects, including the eggs and larvae of various types. Nestlings are fed caterpillars, small beetles, flies, and other insects.


Nesting

Breeding behavior is not well known. On breeding territory, males sing from perches and also sometimes during slow, hovering display flight. Nest: Well-hidden, on the ground in a depression made in club mosses, grass, and ferns, usually under scrubby bushes or saplings. Open cup nest is made of coarse grass, ferns, and strips of bark, rimmed with moss; lined with fine grass, animal hair, or pine needles. Female builds the nest.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Birds from both eastern and western breeding populations winter mainly in Mexico. Unlike many warblers, does not migrate north across Gulf of Mexico in spring; instead, travels around Gulf, then spreads northeastward to easternmost breeding areas.

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Migration

Birds from both eastern and western breeding populations winter mainly in Mexico. Unlike many warblers, does not migrate north across Gulf of Mexico in spring; instead, travels around Gulf, then spreads northeastward to easternmost breeding areas.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud, ringing teebit-teebit-teebit, chipper-chipper-chipper-chipper; usually has 2 distinct segments.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Nashville 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 Nashville 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.

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