Cape May Warbler – Profile | Fall | Female | Song | Winter | Range

Cape May Warbler

The adult male Cape May Warbler in breeding plumage is brightly and distinctively patterned, with olive back, yellow rump, strongly streaked yellow breast, daring white wing patch, and yellow neck and face with chestnut around and behind the attention.

Cape May Warbler profile

Other plumages are duller; seek the advice of a field guide for the nice factors of separating these from related plumages of a number of the different Dendroica warblers.

The Cape May warbler, scientific name Setophaga tigrina is a species of New World warbler. It breeds in northern North America. Its breeding range spans all however the westernmost elements of southern Canada, the Great Lakes area, and New England. It is migratory, wintering within the West Indies.

This species is a really uncommon vagrant to western Europe, with two pieces of information in Britain as of October 2013.

The English name refers to Cape May, New Jersey, the place George Ord collected the specimen later described by Alexander Wilson. This species was not recorded once more in Cape May for more than 100 years, though it’s now generally known as an unusual migrant there.

Cape May Warbler  Overview

Among the dazzling cohort of spring warblers, the first Cape May Warbler to reach is a balm: its mossy greenback, tiger-striped breast, and chestnut cheek patch make it not like every other warbler.

During the breeding season, the species lives distant from most human observers, in northern spruce-fir forests, the place its nesting success is tied to its chief meals, the spruce budworm caterpillar.

These uncommon warblers have specifically formed tongues that permit them to sip nectar from tropical flowers in winter—and generally from hummingbird feeders.

Many of our migratory warblers appear to steer double lives, and the Cape May is an effective instance. It summers in northern spruce woods, however winters within the Caribbean, the place it’s usually seen in palm timber.

In the summer season it eats bugs, however, throughout migration and winter, it varies its diet with nectar from flowers and with juice that it obtains by piercing fruit. Birders simply acknowledge the tiger-striped males in spring, however, drab fall birds could be perplexing.

Cape May Warbler  Description

This bird is a small passerine and is a mid-sized New World warbler. Length can differ from 12 to 14 cm (4.7 to 5.5 in), wingspan is 19–22 cm (7.5–8.7 in), and body mass can range from 9 to 17.3 g (0.32 to 0.61 oz).

Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.1 to 7.3 cm (2.4 to 2.9 in), the tail is 4.3 to 5 cm (1.7 to 2.0 in), the bill is 0.9 to 1.2 cm (0.35 to 0.47 in), and the tarsus is 1.7 to 1.9 cm (0.67 to 0.75 in).

The summer season male Cape May warbler has a brown back, yellowish rump, and darkish brown crown.

The underparts are yellow, streaked black, giving rise to the bird’s scientific name.

The throat and nape are vibrant yellow and the face is hanging chestnut with a black eyestripe. There is a slender white wing bar.

Other plumages resemble washed-out variations of the alternate-plumaged males, missing the robust head pattern. The yellowish rump and no less than indications of the white wing bar are at all times present.

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Spruce forest; different timber in migration. Breeds in a spruce forest, both in pure stands or blended with firs or different timber, typically in more open woods or close to the forest edge.

During migration usually favors conifers, but additionally forages in deciduous timber and thickets. In Florida and the West Indies in winter, usually feeds within the crowns of palm timber.

Cape May Warbler Diet

Mostly bugs, some fruit, nectar. Diet contains spruce budworms, parasitic wasps and flies, ants, bees, small moths, beetles, leafhoppers, additionally spiders.

In migration, could pierce grapes and drink the juice. Also feeds on sap from holes drilled by sapsuckers. Unique amongst warblers, the Cape May has a tubular tongue; in winter, it feeds closely on flower nectar and fruit juices.

Feeding Behavior

On the breeding grounds, feeds primarily out on the suggestions of branches of spruce timber. Will cling head downward on the suggestions of branches to select bugs from the undersides of needles.

Often flies out a number of feet to catch flying bugs in mid-air. In winter, could defend flowering crops from hummingbirds and different nectar feeders.


6-7, generally 4-9. May lay more eggs throughout outbreaks of spruce budworm. Eggs whitish with red-brown spots. Probably incubated by a feminine, unknown variety of days. Young: Probably fed by each parent. The age at which younger depart the nest shouldn’t be well-known.


Probably fed by each parent. The age at which younger depart the nest shouldn’t be well-known.

Cape May Warbler  Nesting

Male defends nesting territory towards different Cape Mays and different warbler species. During courtship, male shows by flying above feminine with wings held stiffly out.

Nest: Placed very near the top of a 35-60′ spruce or fir, in thick foliage towards the trunk. The nest is cup-shaped and manufactured from moss, vines, weeds; lined thickly with feathers and fur.

Probably constructed by the feminine. The nest may be very laborious to search out as a result of feminine flies into the tree low after which sneaks up the trunk to enter the nest; when leaving it, she strikes down the trunk as an alternative of flying straight away.

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Cape May Warbler Biology

This species is insectivorous and lays bigger clutches in years when spruce budworm is considerable. It picks bugs from the guidelines of conifer branches or flies out to catch bugs.

The Cape May warbler additionally feeds on berry juice and nectar in winter, and has, uniquely for a warbler, a tubular tongue to facilitate this behavior.

The breeding habitat of this bird is the sides of coniferous woodland. Cape May warblers nest in dense foliage close to the trunk of the tree, generally black spruce, and lay 4–9 eggs in a cup nest.

This species can lay the biggest clutch of any New World warbler, in all probability in response to will increase within the numbers of spruce budworm throughout outbreaks.

The song of the Cape May warbler is an easy repetition of high tsi notes. The call is a skinny sip. This bird often sings from high perches.

Cape May Warbler Facts

The tongue of the Cape May Warbler is exclusive amongst warblers. It is curled and semi-tubular used to gather nectar.

The frequent name of the species comes from Cape May, New Jersey, the place Alexander Wilson first described it. After that first time, Cape May

Warblers weren’t recorded in Cape May for more than 100 years.

The average clutch size of the Cape May Warbler (6 eggs) is bigger than that of different warblers. This massive clutch size could permit Cape May

Warbler populations increase quickly throughout outbreaks of their most popular prey, spruce budworms.

The nest of the Cape May Warbler was not precisely described till the early 20th century.

The oldest recorded Cape May Warbler was no less than 4 years, three months old when it was present in 1978 in Quebec. It had been banded as an adult in Ohio in 1975.

Where to search out Cape May Warbler 

The Cape May Warbler breeds within the boreal forests of Canada in addition to in northernmost New England and the higher Midwest, and winters within the West Indies and alongside the Caribbean coast south to Honduras.

Although it nests as far west as southeastern Yukon and northeastern British Columbia its migration route lies nearly totally east of the Mississippi River Valley.

Cape May Warbler is unintentional in British Columbia away from its nesting grounds. Washington’s two accepted information have been in September 1974 at Bellingham (Whatcom County) and February 2005 in Spokane (Spokane County).

Idaho additionally has two records, in September and January. Oregon has 10 pieces of information, about evenly divided between spring and fall; three are from alongside the coast and the others from east of the Cascades.

On breeding grounds, Cape May Warblers are domestically frequent in spruce-fir forests, the place they spend many of the days foraging high within the timber.

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Listen for males singing their high-pitched songs (remember it’s fairly just like Bay-breasted Warbler’s song).

During migration, the species is comparatively frequent within the East, in lots of wooded habitats (and particularly round planted spruces, in line with their summer season habitat).

It’s uncommon west of the Mississippi River. Most Cape May Warblers winter within the Caribbean, in lush habitats with loads of bugs and flowers.

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