Conservation status Numbers seem stable. Unlike some warblers, because of its wintering range and habitat, unlikely to be affected by cutting of tropical forest habitats.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Brushy clearings, aspens, undergrowth. Breeds in shrubby vegetation, usually deciduous undergrowth in various habitats, including spruce forest, fir-aspen forest, streamside thickets, or chaparral with partly shaded ground. During migration and winter, uses brushy tangles in similar habitat, including gardens and parks.
One of the plainest of warblers, the orange feathers on its head almost never visible, this species is also among the most hardy. In winter, when most warblers are deep in the tropics, Orange-crowns are common in the southern states. They are usually seen singly, sometimes loosely associated with flocks of other birds. At all seasons they tend to stay fairly low, in bushes or small trees, flicking their tails frequently as they search among the foliage for insects.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by flitting from perch to perch, taking insects from foliage and flowers, often fairly low. Will hover to take prey from underside of leaves, or sally out from perch for flying insects. Pierces bases of flowers with its bill to take nectar.


4-5, sometimes 3-6. White or creamy, with reddish-brown speckles mostly at larger end. Only females incubate, 11-13 days. Young: Fed by both parents, but brooded only by female. Leave nest at age of 10-13 days, when they still fly poorly. Both parents feed young for at least a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.


Fed by both parents, but brooded only by female. Leave nest at age of 10-13 days, when they still fly poorly. Both parents feed young for at least a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.


Mostly insects, some berries. In summer eats mostly insects, feeding nestlings almost exclusively on insect larvae. In winter, will feed on oozing sap from wells drilled in tree bark by sapsuckers or other woodpeckers. On tropical wintering grounds, feeds on insects, nectar, and berries. Will take suet and peanut butter from feeders.


Males arrive on breeding grounds before females, and establish territory by singing. Typically males return to territories defended the previous year. Nest: Nest site is protected from above by overhanging vegetation, usually on the ground in small depressions or on steep banks. Occasionally low in shrubby bushes or trees. Female builds small, open cup nest of leaves, fine twigs, bark, coarse grass and moss; lined with dry grass or animal hair. Male does not help with nest building, but accompanies the female closely.

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

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Compared to most warblers, migrates relatively early in spring. Fall migration is relatively late in the east (where uncommon), spread over a long period in the west.

  • 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.

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Songs and Calls

Song is a simple trill going up or down the scale toward the end. Call a sharp stik.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Orange-crowned 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 Near You

Climate threats facing the Orange-crowned 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.