Already a subscriber? Sign in Don't have a subscription? Subscribe Now
Orange-crowned Warbler
Oreothlypis celata
– Family
Authors: Sogge, M. K., W. M. Gilbert, and C. Van Riper III
Revisors: Gilbert, W. M.

Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!

Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.

If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.

Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.


Adult Orange-crowned Warbler, ssp. celata, Seward Peninsula, AK, June.
Figure 1. Distribution of the Orange-crowned Warbler.
Editor’s Note: Molecular studies indicate that six species formerly placed in Vermivora are not closely related to true Vermivora (bachmanii, cyanoptera, and chrysoptera); they are now placed in the genus Oreothlypis. See the 51st Supplement to the American Ornithologists Union Checklist of North American Birds for details. Future revisions of this account will reflect this change.

The Orange-crowned Warbler, Vermivora celata, breeds widely over much of western and northern North America, and east across Canada. Authorities recognize four subspecies, which differ to varying extents in their plumage, molt patterns, breeding distributions, and migratory routes, among other things. This species prefers habitats with shrubs and low vegetation, often in patchy oak or aspen forest, or in riparian areas or chaparral. Wooded habitat provides suitable conditions for the warbler’s nest, placed on or near the ground. Like other members of its genus, the Orange-crown gleans insects from leaves, blossoms, and the tips of boughs, but it also eats some berries and fruit and is attracted to suet in winter. Where Red-naped sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) drill holes in tree trunks, this warbler often is the most common species to feed at the sap wells.

This species is often numerous in suitable habitat, and may be the most abundant breeding paruline in some areas. Its song is highly variable, and many individuals can be separated by their distinctive song patterns. Most populations are strongly migratory, although members of the sordida race breeding along and off the California coast may move only short distances in fall and winter.

The Orange-crowned Warbler has been the subject of extensive studies of its molt, pterylography, and ecto-parasitism (Foster 1967a, b; 1969). Much past information on the species’ ecology, behavior, and breeding, however, has been anecdotal. Within the past two decades more comprehensive studies have been made, especially of V. c. lutescens in Contra Costa Co., central California (Gilbert 1986, 1994, WMG), V. c. orestera on the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona (Zyskowski 1993, Martin and Martin 2001a, b; Martin 2007), and of V. c. sordida on the Channel Islands off s. California (C. Ghalambor and S. Sillett, pers. comm.; Peluc et al. 2008; and M. Sogge and C. van Riper III). Throughout this revised account much unpublished information is attributable to M. Sogge and C. van Riper III, two co-authors of the original 1994 account; this information is referenced as MKS and CvR.