Vancouver Avian Research Centre

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Species: Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla



This small warbler is relatively unspectacular in appearance. It was discovered in 1808 near Nashville, Tenn., by Alexander Wilson, who saw it in migration there and named it for that city. There are two rather distinct sub-species, one in the midwestern and eastern parts of North America and the other mainly in the Pacific Coast region.


General: Structurally a small, rather short-tailed warbler with a sharply pointed bill. It has a conspicuous complete white or whitish eye-ring. Length: 11.5 cm, weight: 8.7g.

Adult Male: Gray head contrast with yellow throat. Greenish upperparts, wing coverts and flight feathers with mostly yellow underparts. Undertail coverts are bright yellow. The deep chestnut cap is often difficult to see.

Adult Female: Head is dull gray; under parts duller than adult male. Chestnut on crown much reduced.

Juvenile: Duller overall with buffy eye-ring.

Similar Species: Always told from the related Virginia’s Warbler of the Southwest  by more extensive yellow on the under parts, by the greenish tint to the back, wing coverts, and flight feathers, and by the shorter tail. Connecticut Warbler shares the gray head (adult males), white eye-ring, greenish upperparts, and yellowish under parts, but is very different in shape and behavior. The Connecticut Warbler is much larger.

Behavior: A rather active warbler, often feeding at the tips of twigs or weed stalks. The western birds often bob their tails. Spring migrants often feed high up in budding trees, but fall birds are often lower, frequently feeding on low weed stems. Feeds primarily on insects but will take berries and nectar in nonbreeding season.

Habitat: Found in brushy areas and low woods, often in deciduous trees - open second-growth woods, thickets, woodland edges.


The deep chestnut cap is partly concealed by other feathers but can be exposed when the bird raises its crest, such as when it is alarmed or displaying to another bird. A flight song is sometimes given, with slow, fluttering wingbeats. The nest is cuplike of conifer needles, mosses, fur, and hair, placed on the ground often at base of shrubs. Four to five eggs are laid, white with brown dots.

Conservation Status:

Populations appear to be stable.

Capture Rates

As suggested by the capture rate (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) of a few individuals during migration in April, May and September, the Nashville Warbler is a vagrant to Colony Farm. It is typically found in dry conditions at moderate to high altitude in the southern interior of British Columbia and winters in southern Mexico.


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