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Orange-crowned Warbler - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by janruss
Edmonds, Washington, USA, 4 August 2005
Leiothlypis celata

Vermivora celata
Oreothlypis celata


Subspecies lutescens, winter adult
Photo © by digishooter
Hart Park, Kern County, California, USA, November 2011

13 cm (5 inches)
Small, active, insect-eating bird with thin, very pointed bill. Indistinct yellow supercilium. Indistinct broken eye ring. Grayish to olive head, bac, and wings. No wing bars. Yellow to dull yellow/olive underparts with blurry, indistinct streaks on breast. Yellow undertail coverts. Orange crown rarely shows; most visible when crown feathers are raised, and from behind.
Females and immatures are somewhat duller.


Considerable variation in plumage with western birds being somewhat yellower and eastern birds grayer.

Similar species

Orange-crowned Warbler has a yellow vent and longer tail than Tennessee Warbler. Its eye stripe does not normally extend behind the eye although individuals can show this to some degree.


Alaska and almost universal in Canada (absent only in the southeast and far northeast); Western United States from Washington to western Montana south to California to western tip of Texas. In migration found almost anywhere in the United States but far more widespread in west.


Photo © by UncleGus_24
Green Valley, Arizona, 25 February 2012

It was formerly included in Vermivora and Oreothlypis.


There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • L. c. celata:
  • L. c. orestera:
  • Rocky Mountains to south-western US and western Texas; winters to ssouthern Mexico
  • L. c. lutescens
  • L. sordida:
  • Coastal southern California and islands off south-western California and Baja California


Marshes, suburban gardens, semi-wooded areas, oak savannah, riparian, open grass beside rivers and ponds.



Their diet consists mostly of insects and spiders during the summer months, switching to berries and fruit in the winter. Very active feeders in low shrubs, sometimes hovering.


The female chooses the nest site, which is usually on the ground under dense vegetation, but may be in a shrub, low tree, fern, or vine. The nest is an open cup formed from grasses, shredded bark and moss, lined with fine grass and hair. The clutch consists of 4 to 5 eggs which are incubated for 11 to 13 days. Both parents feed the young.


Song a variable trill, usually dropping in pitch and volume towards end. Usual call a hard, sharp, "tick."

Listen to a song clip (subspecies L. c. lutescens)
Recording © by Joseph Morlan
Pacifica, California, 01 April 2020


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Curson, J. (2020). Orange-crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61457 on 9 April 2020).
  3. BirdForum member observations
  4. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. Orange-crowned Warbler in: All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Orange-crowned_Warbler Accessed on 8 April 2020.
  5. Gilbert, W. M., M. K. Sogge, and C. van Riper (2020). Orange-crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.orcwar.01
  6. R. T. Chesser, K. J. Burns, C. Cicero, et al. (2019) Sixtieth Supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds, The Auk: Ornithological Advances XX:1–23. PDF

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