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Bay-breasted Warbler

Setophaga castanea

Length: 5.5 inches Wingspan: 8.5 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Rusty sides and throat, chestnut crown, black face, buff patch on sides of neck, 2 white wing-bars.

Bay-breasted Warbler - Setophaga castaneaBay-breasted warblers summer in conifer forests of Canada and the northeastern U.S.  Populations of this warbler can vary dramatically, often rising during outbreaks of conifer forest pests, especially spruce budworm.  Winter plumage is dramatically different than the colorful summer plumage (photo to the right).

Habitat: Can be found in a wide variety of forest/woodland habitats during migration.  During the summer breeding season, they strongly prefer spruce or fir forest stands, but will use other types of tree as well.

Diet: Primarily insects during breeding.  Will also eat berries, especially during the winter or cold snaps.

Behavior: Primarily forages at mid-levels in spruce or other conifer stands, moving through branches in search of insects. 

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Bay-breasted Warbler sightings

Song: Bay-Breasted Warbler Song

Migration: Summers primarily in Canada, parts of the Northeastern U.S.  Winters in Central and South America.

Similar Species: Chestnut-sided Warbler. Similar to many other warblers in fall and winter plumage.

Conservation Status: Generally stable, with some population fluctuations that follow availability of common prey insects.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Bay-breasted Warbler

2) BirdWeb - Bay-breasted Warbler

3) Audubon Guide - Bay-breasted Warbler

Photo Information: May 23rd, 2004 -- Pierre -- Doug Backlund


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Bay-breasted Warbler - Range map
South Dakota Status: Rare spring and uncommon fall migrant in the eastern part of the state.  Accidental in the west.

Additional Bay-breasted Warbler Photos (coming soon!)