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Black-throated Green Warbler - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Peter Day
Magee Marsh, Ohio, USA, November, 2018
Setophaga virens

Dendroica virens


Length 12·7–13 cm (4½-5 in)
Sexually dimorphic. Notice both sexes have yellow wash in the vent area.


  • Yellow face with broad olive eyestripe
  • Throat and sides of upper chest black
  • Greenish olive crown, nape, and upperparts with indistinct dark centres
  • Dark wings and tail
  • Two white wing-bars
Photo by Fernando Cerra
Photo taken: South Padre Island, Texas, USA, May 2004


  • Auriculars washed olive
  • Whitish throat and sides of chest mottled black


  • Bright yellow-green face
  • Darker ear patch
  • Bright green unstreaked back
  • Prominent white wing-bars
  • Mostly grayish-white underparts
  • Blackish streaks down the side
  • Only a faint yellow wash below

Similar Species

In the west, the two most likely confusing species are Townsend’s and Hermit Warblers. Hermit usually has plainer face, greyer back and lacks streaking on the sides. Townsend’s has a more contrasting face, often streaking on the back and usually a much more yellow upper breast.

Either a very dull immature Townsend’s or a Hermit × Townsend’s hybrid are likely to cause the most confusion. In these and all cases the wash of yellow across the vent just behind the legs is diagnostic for Black-throated Green.

Golden-cheeked Warbler differs in having no yellow on the underparts, darker upperparts (black in males), and a narrower black line through the eye.


Photo by Stanley Jones
Quetzal Valley, San Gerardo de Dota, San José Province, Cordillera de Talamancas, Costa Rica, March 2007

Breeds from Saskatchewan east to eastern Quebec and Newfoundland; northern Minnesota and Michigan east to Pennsylvania; also along the Appalachians south to northern Alabama, and along the Atlantic coast south to South Carolina.

Winters east Mexico to central Panama. Also winters in the southern tip of Florida. Rare but regular vagrant in the western United States.

Accidental vagrant to Greenland (3 records) and Germany (1 19th century record).


This is considered a monotypic species by most authors[1][2], but some accept two subspecies[3]:

  • S. v. virens - most of the species' range.
  • S. v. waynei - restricted to the Atlantic coastal plain from Virginia to South Carolina.

Formerly placed in genus Dendroica.


Breeds in open coniferous and mixed forests; also in cypress swamps in the coastal Carolinas. Observed at heights around 2,195 m.

In migration found nearly anywhere with trees.



Occasionally hovers whilst feeding.


The nest is an open cup and usually placed in the fork of a tree. The clutch consists of three to five eggs.


Diet is mainly insectivorous, including arthropods and caterpillars. They also eat berries.


Song: A buzzy zoo-zee-zoo-zoo-zee and other variations


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2010. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553682
  4. Avibase
  5. Dunn, Jon; Garrett, Kimball. 1997. A Field Guide to Warblers of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 9780395783214
  6. Cornell Lab or Ornithology
  7. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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