Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina)

Cape May Warbler

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Parulidae | [latin] Dendroica tigrina | [UK] Cape May Warbler | [FR] Sylvette tigree | [DE] Tiger-Waldsanger | [ES] | [NL] Tijgerzanger


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

In the breeding season, the male has a chestnut ear patch bordered by a distinct yellow
hindneck and throat, an indistinct black eye stripe,
and an olive crown and nape, heavily streaked with
black. The upperparts are predominantly olive with
some black streaking, white wing patch, and a yellow
rump. The underparts are yellow with bold black
streaking on the breast. The breeding female is
similar but significantly duller in colour, the wing
patch is replaced by a narrow white wing bar, and
the chestnut ear patch is lacking. Immature birds are
duller still

Listen to the sound of Cape May Warbler

[audio: May Warbler.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 19 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 9  


North America : nc, Northeast


Breeds in cool temperate forested lowlands of eastern Nearctic, especially where tall spruce and other conifers form open parklike stands, sometimes with patches of birch; also in mixed woods. Occurs on migration in various kinds of woods and thickets, also in trees and shrubbery near dwellings and along village streets; sometimes in orchards, thickets, and briar patches.


There is no information on pair formation. The female alone builds the nest. Nests are bulky cups of grass, small twigs, and moss lined with hair, feathers, and fur. Clutch size ranges from four to nine eggs and is strongly influenced by food supply, with larger clutches typical during periods of high food abundance. In northeastern British Columbia, egg laying probably begins in mid- to late June. Incubation, by the female alone, is for an unknown period, although 11-13 days is likely, based on the incubation period of other members of this genus. The nestling period is also unknown, but is probably between 9 and 12 days, also based on other congeneric warblers. Both parents feed nestlings. A pair probably raises a single brood each year. There are no data for Cape May Warblers on hatching success, survival of nestlings, or fledging success; however, through increased
clutch sizes, Cape May Warblers are undoubtedly able to produce more young in years and regions with high food supplies.

Feeding habits

During the breeding season, the Cape May Warbler is a spruce budworm specialist. It feeds mainly by gleaning prey from tree foliage, primarily along branches, but also hawks, hovers, or fly-catches. Most foraging is done within the upper canopy. This warbler also opportunistically takes advantage of a variety of small adult and larval insects, spiders, eggs, of spiders and insects, as well as berries, and seeds. Nectar, pollen, and tree sap
are important food sources during spring migration. In the winter, the Cape May Warbler may feed mainly on nectar, although invertebrates are also taken, if available.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Breeds in North America from southern Mackenzie and easternmost British Columbia east to Nova Scotia, south to North Dakota, northern Wisconsin, northern New York, and Maine.
Cape May Warbler status Least Concern


Migratory. Winter range much smaller than breeding range: in West Indies (chiefly Bahamas and Greater Antilles), with a few in southern Florida; casual in eastern Central America. Main movement between Appalachian Mountains and Mississippi River, despite occasional coastal concentrations. Many turn east farther south, to pass through Florida to West Indies. Autumn migration long drawn-out, with birds frequently lingering into November in most eastern states, and occasionally into December. Spring route is reverse of autumn, but some birds apparently fly from West Indies directly to Alabama and north-west Florida, passing by or over peninsular Florida.

Distribution map

Cape May Warbler distribution range map

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