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Orange-crowned Warbler

Oreothlypis celata

Length: 5 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: A plain warbler, gray to greenish-gray overall, faint broken eye-ring, yellow undertail coverts

Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata Orange-crowned Warblers are one of the plainest warblers that migrates through the state, with a name that is somewhat deceptive! A typical sighting of an Orange-crowned Warbler may leave a birder wondering if the bird is properly named, as the namesake feature is usually extremely difficult to see.  Four sub-species are recognized in North America, with some sub-species relatively gray and dull, and others somewhat more colorful.  They are usually more noticeable than some other warblers during migration because they often stay very low in trees and shrubs.  Orange-crowned Warblers don't migrate as far south in the fall as most warblers, with many staying in the southern United States. In South Dakota, they are a migrant, and are often one of the most abundant migrating warblers in both the spring and fall.


Prefers brushy habitats and woodlands during migration through the state.


Mostly insects.  Will also feed at sapsucker "wells" for tree sap, and eat berries, some other fruit, insects, and nectar.


Orange-crowned Warblers often forage low in vegetation, but will forage at all heights.  They clamber and flit through vegetation, gleaning insects from flowers, leaves, and tips of branches.  They will also sometimes capture insects in flight.


Non-breeder in South Dakota. The nest of an Orange-crowned Warbler is placed on the ground, or sometimes very low in a shrub. It is typically placed in a sheltered location, such as the base of a plant, a crack of a rock, or a sloped area.  The female builds the nest, a cup that is constructed of leaves, grasses, and other plant fibers, lined with hair, feathers, or fine grasses. She lays 3 to 6 eggs, and she alone incubates them. Incubation lasts about 2 weeks, with young fledging from the nest in another 12-14 days.


High thin trill, trailing downward in pitch at the end. They also have a sharp chip call note.


Summers in Canada, Alaska, and the Rockies in the western U.S.  Winters in the extreme southern U.S. and points south. In South Dakota, they are common migrants. Unlike many warblers, they will feed on berries or other fruit, and thus are typically one of the first warbler species to arrive in the spring, and one of the latest to leave in the fall, times when insects may be scarce.

Interactive eBird map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Orange-crowned Warbler sightings

Bird Feeders:

Suet and peanut butter, sweet breads.

Similar Species:

Orange-crowned Warblers are rather plain overall, with some variability. Overall, Orange-crowned Warblers generally have more yellow the further west they are found in North America. Those in the eastern part of the US often have a much grayer overall appearance, particularly the head. Overall, Orange-crowned Warblers could potentially be confused with the following species:

Tennessee Warbler - Vermivora peregrina Common Yellowthroat 16 - Geothlypis trichas Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia Nashville Warbler 4 - Leiothlypis ruficapilla
Tennessee Warbler Common Yellowthroat Yellow Warbler Nashville Warbler

Conservation Status:

Generally stable throughout its range, with some indications that populations are increasing. They are found across a very broad geographic area, and are common in parts of their range. The IUCN considers the Orange-crowned Warbler to be a species of "least concern".

Further Information:

Photo Information:

October 10th, 2004 -- Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos:

Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Orange-crowned Warbler photos.

Audio File Credits:

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Orange-crowned Warbler - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant throughout the state.

Additional Orange-crowned Warbler Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Orange-crowned Warbler 1 - Oreothlypis celataOrange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic2Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic3Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic4Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic5Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic6Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic7Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic8Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic9Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic10Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic11Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic12Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic13Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic14Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic15Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic16Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic17Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata - Pic18Orange-crowned Warbler 19 - Oreothlypis celataOrange-crowned Warbler 20 - Oreothlypis celataOrange-crowned Warbler 21 - Oreothlypis celataOrange-crowned Warbler 22 - Oreothlypis celata