Cape May Warbler
Cape May Warbler Dendroica tigrina
Sound (117 KB)
5 inches (13 cm)
• Yellow rump and short tail
• Streaked below
• Spring male has chestnut ear patch
• White wing patch
• Small, active, insect-eating bird
• Thin, pointed bill
• Yellow rump
• Black legs
Adult male breeding:
• Chestnut cheek patch
• Yellow on throat extends across side of face and onto nape
• Yellow supercilium
• Yellow underparts with crisp, heavy black streaking
• Belly and undertail coverts whiter than breast
• Olive crown and back with black streaks
• White patch on wings
Nonbreeding, female and immature:
• Lacks cheek patch of breeding male
• Dull yellow on throat extends across side of face and onto nape
• Yellow supercilium
• Dull yellow to whitish-yellow underparts with fine black streaking
• Belly and undertail coverts paler than breast
• Olive to grayish crown and back with some black streaking
• White wing bars
• The breeding-plumaged male Cape May Warbler is very distinctive with its heavily streaked yellow underparts and bold face pattern. Females, and fall-plumaged birds are more difficult to identify. Some immatures can become rather grayish in fall with very dull markings. The extensive fine black streaking on the underparts and the yellow neck patch are diagnostic. The Yellow-rumped Warbler is similar but has more blurry streaking on the breast that is not so extensive as the Cape May. It also has a brighter yellow rump and a thicker bill. Palm Warblers are somewhat similar but consistently wag their tails and have yellow undertail coverts.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Open coniferous (spruce-fir) forest, coniferous forest edge. ? broods. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Courting male flies with rigid wings above female.
NEST: Cup type nest in crown of spruce or fir tree; of moss, vine stems, weed stalks, lined thickly with fine materials, smoothly felted. Female believed to build nest.
EGGS: Six to seven creamy white eggs, heavily marked with reddish-browns, mostly at large end. 0.7" (17 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female believed to incubate. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Both sexes believed to tend young.
DIET: During fall migration occasionally punctures cultivated grapes and drinks juice, occasionally damaging crop. Feeds heavily on nectar in winter, often defending flowering plants.
CONSERVATION: Winters s through West Indics. Rare cowbird host.
NOTES: Nest difficult to locate since female does not fly directly to it but works her way up trunk; on leaving nest dives toward ground. Compared with other warblers, male very aggressively defends territory, often perching atop conifer and flying out to chase away all other warblers, regardless of species or size. Clutch size (largest of any wood warbler), reproductive success, and population density apparently correlated positively with outbreaks of spruce budworm.
Dendroica tigrina CAPE MAY WARBLER. Open boreal coniferous forest, edge, woodland. Se Yukon, ne British Columbia, sw,sc Mackenzie and n Alberta e to Nova Scotia and s to c Alberta, c Saskatchewan, ne N. Dakota, ne Minnesota, n Wisconsin, n Michigan, s Ontario, ne New York and n New England. Winters in Florida, W. Indies, se Mexico, Caribbean C. America and n Venezuela. Vagrant records scattered over Mexico, incl. Socorro Island; also British Isles and in w U.S. to coastal California.