Vancouver Avian Research Centre

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Species: Orange-Crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata


A rather drab greenish bird compared to other American warblers which tend to be more brightly colored.
It breeds south of the Arctic Circle across Canada and south along western US to northwestern Mexico. It migrates through the eastern states to winter in the southern states and onwards to Central America.


It possesses a thin pointed bill. Dark eye line and broken eye ring. No wing bars. Plumage is greenish-gray above and yellowish underside with faint streaking on sides of breast. Tawny orange crown is inconspicuous.

Adult Male: Orange crown is more prominent on the males.

Adult female: Plumage is duller than male and orange crown maybe absent.

Juvenile: Like the females, juveniles are duller than adult males and the orange crown may not have developed yet.

Similar Species: Might be confused with a fall Tennessee warbler except for streaking on its breast and lack of wing bars Yellow undertail coverts and grayer upperparts distinguish immature orange-crowned warblers from immature Tennessee warblers.

Behavior: Bird moves quickly from perch to perch as it probes for insects among leaves or moss. Prey that are resting in the foliage or flying might sometimes be hawked.

Habitat: Prefers forest edges of deciduous woods near clearings and burns where it may forage among the shrubs. Ideal breeding habitat is low shrubby areas with moderately dense foliage along steep slopes and close to water. During migration it frequents habitats riparian willows and scrub oak chaparral.


Orange-crowned warbler is divided into four subspecies. Vermivora celata celata is the dullest of the four and it occurs in Alaska and across Canada. V c lutescens occurs along the Pacific coast and is the brightest yellow. Intergrading between these two subspecies in appearance is V c orestera from the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin. V c sordida is dark green but is found only from southern California to northern Baja California and the Channel Islands.
They start appearing on the coast by mid-March and become most abundant during April and early May during migration. They start migrating back to the tropics by August and most will be gone by mid-October.
During the breeding season the male will sing from the tops of tall trees. Breeding females construct an open cup nest of twigs, bark and grass and that is lined with finer materials on or close to the ground. Four to six reddish-brown speckled white eggs are laid. The species is monogamous and both parents feed the young.
They feed on insects, berries and even nectar.
A group of warblers may be called a “bouquet”, “confusion”, “fall” or “wrench”.

Conservation Status: (Least Concern)

Its population has been increasing since the 1980s and the current estimation is 76 million birds.
Capture Rates

A breeding bird in Colony Farm, capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) of the Orange-crowned Warbler are relatively consistent from early spring through August. Numbers do peak however in September due to juvenile dispersal as well as a higher frequency of migrants moving to their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. and Central America.

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