|Conservation status||Local breeding populations rise and fall, apparently in response to outbreaks of certain forest insects, such as spruce budworm. Overall numbers of this warbler seem healthy.|
|Habitat||Deciduous and mixed forests; in migration, groves, brush. Breeds in bogs, swamps, and forests. Prefers openings in second growth balsam-tamarack bogs, or aspen and pine woods, or edges of dense spruce forest. Nests near slight depressions of boggy ground. During spring migration, mostly high in trees. During fall migration, often lower in saplings, brush, weedy fields.|
Forages in the outer foliage of trees, sometimes hanging head downward. Takes insects in dense patches of weeds. In summer, male may feed mostly in treetops, female remaining nearer the ground. Forages in flocks of up to 200 on wintering grounds, often in coffee plantations.
5-6, sometimes 4-7. May lay more eggs during outbreaks of spruce budworm. Eggs white, with some marks of brown or purple. Rarely parasitized by cowbirds. Incubation by female only, 11-12 days. Young: Development and care of the young, and age when they leave the nest, are not well known. Probably 1 brood per year.
Development and care of the young, and age when they leave the nest, are not well known. Probably 1 brood per year.
Mostly insects, some berries and nectar. In summer feeds mainly on insects, including caterpillars, scale insects, aphids, beetles, flies, ants, leafhoppers, and others; also spiders. Takes nectar from catkins, and some juice from grapes. In winter in the tropics, feeds on nectar, berries, and the protein-rich structures that cecropia trees produce at base of leaves.
Male has loud repetitious song on breeding territory. In ideal habitat, nests are closely spaced in loose colonies. During courtship, male performs song flight up to 60' above the ground. Nest: Concealed in a depression on ground under bushes or overhanging grass. Site is usually on mossy hummock in a wet area, but will nest on fairly dry ground on steep hillsides. Nest (built by female) is open cup made of thin grass stems; lined with fine dry grass, porcupine quills, or moose hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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In spring, many migrate north across the western part of the Gulf of Mexico. Strays show up regularly in the west, especially along the Pacific Coast in fall, where a few may spend the winter.
- 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 CallsA sharp, staccato di-dit-di-dit-swit-swit-swit-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip, fastest at the end; song often comprised of 3 distinct parts.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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.