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Townsend's Warbler

Setophaga townsendi

Length: 5 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Dark cheek with bright yellow surrounding it, dark crown, black chin and throat, yellow breast, 2 white wing-bars

Townsend's Warbler - Setophaga townsendiTownsend's Warblers are primarily birds of the cool coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, but can occasionally be found as migrants in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  They are quite similar to the Black-throated Green Warbler, a warbler found in the eastern part of the continent.

Habitat: Breeds in tall coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest and western Canada.  Also primarily found in conifer forests during migration, but also in trees in riparian areas.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects and spiders.  They will also occasionally feed on seeds, berries, and nectar, especially during the winter.

Behavior: Usually forages high in the forest canopy, moving through the foliage in search of insects.  They will also sometimes hover to glean insects from foliage, or will fly out from a perch to catch insects in mid-air.  Note in December in San Francisco, I also found very good numbers of Townsend's Warblers foraging quite low in bushes and shrubs, and sometimes even on the ground.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Fast series of buzzy thin notes, variable but usually rising in tone.

Migration: Neotropical migrant.  Summers along in forests of the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and southern Alaska.  Primarily winters in Mexico and Central America, but some can be found near the U.S. Pacific coast.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Townsend's Warbler sightings

Similar Species: Black-throated Green Warbler, Hermit Warbler

Conservation Status: They are possibly vulnerable to the effects of forest fragmentation, but numbers and range might be increasing slightly in recent decades.  Overall they are widespread and common in parts of their range. The IUCN considers Townsend's Warbler to be a species of Least concern.

Feeders: Will attend feeders for mixtures of cheese, peanut butter, and marshmallows.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Townsend's Warbler

2) WhatBird - Townsend's Warbler

3) Audubon Guide - Townsend's Warbler

Photo Information: December 18th, 2008 -- San Francisco, California -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Townsend's Warbler photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Townsend's Warbler - Range map
South Dakota Status: Very rare fall migrant, primarily in the Black Hills. 
Additional Townsend's Warbler Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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