AudioDateDownLeftRightUpIconClosefacebookReportGallerySettingsGiftLanguageGridListMapMenunoAudionoPhotoPhotoPlayPlusSearchStartwitterUserVideo

Nashville Warbler

Oreothlypis ruficapilla

Order:
Passeriformes
Family:
Parulidae
Sections
  • Authors: Williams, Janet Mcl.
  • Revisors: Lowther, Peter E.
  • Published: Jun 27, 2011
Listen

Free Introduction Article Access

The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining account articles and multimedia content. Rates start at $5 USD for 30 days of complete access.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In
Enlarge
Figure 1. Distribution of the Nashville Warbler.
Enlarge
Adult male Nashville Warbler, eastern subspecies, Lake Erie, OH, 21 May.

Adult male based on the distinct gray head and visible chestnut feathers on crown. Males of the eastern nominate subspecies average drabber overall than western O. r. ridgwayi. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thirdbirdfromthesun/.

Until recently placed in the genus Vermivora, the Nashville Warbler is now -- owing to growing molecular evidence -- grouped with a number of other warblers in the genus Oreothlypis.  Its closest relative appears to be Virginia's Warbler (O. virginiae); some have considered it conspecific with this southwestern U.S. species.

Two disjunct populations of the Nashville Warbler breed in North America: one east of the Mississippi River (Oreothlypis ruficapilla ruficapilla) and a second in the northwestern United States and adjacent Canada (O. r. ridgwayi). Alexander Wilson first saw this species in 1811 near Nashville, Tennessee, and named it accordingly. The western Nashville Warbler, originally called the Calaveras Warbler, was first seen in Nevada by Robert Ridgway in 1868 and is named for him. Originally thought to be a southern species, the Nashville Warbler was considered rare by early ornithologists in the East. Its numbers increased in eastern coastal states in the latter half of the 1800s, reaching a peak around 1900 and then decreasing again in the early 1900s (Bent 1953b).

A ground nester, the Nashville Warbler inhabits varied terrain within its breeding range, including cut-over and second-growth areas; it winters primarily in central and southern Mexico. Males and females do not differ significantly in their plumage, and males do not go through a major color change in the nonbreeding season, which helps identify this species throughout the year.

Since Bent's (Bent 1953b) summary of the life history of the Nashville Warbler, this species has been included in several warbler studies within its eastern breeding range, particularly in Michigan, Ontario, and New Hampshire. It has not yet been the subject of a major study, however, and little is known about its behavior in western populations or on the wintering grounds.

Shifts in land use—clearing for farming in the early days of development in North America, regrowth of abandoned farm fields, and present-day clear-cut lumbering—probably account for the changes in density of this species. Its ability to breed in a variety of second-growth habitats makes it a fairly common warbler throughout North America, able to maintain, or even increase, in numbers in a time of extensive lumbering and clearing.

Recommended Citation

Lowther, Peter E. and Janet Mcl. Williams. 2011. Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.205