Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea)


French: Paruline à poitrine baie German: Braunkehl-Waldsänger Spanish: Reinita castaña

Sylvia castanea

A. Wilson

, 1810,

Pennsylvania, USA


Presumed to be the closest relative of S. striata, but a recent molecular phylogeny found it to be sister to S. fusca#R. Has hybridized with S. striata, S. coronata (nominate race) and S. fusca. Monotypic.


S Canada (from SW Northwest Territories and NE British Columbia E to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) and NE USA (NE Minnesota E to Maine and New Hampshire). Migrates to Central America and NW South America.

Descriptive notes

13–15 cm; 10·2–15·1 g. Male breeding has black forecrown and face, chestnut cap, large creamy-yellow patch on side of neck; upperparts grey with... read more


Two song types. Songs very high-pitched (but not so high as that of S. striata) and... read more


Breeds in open coniferous forests, especially those dominated by spruce (Picea) and balsam... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on insects and spiders (Araneae) in summer, specializing in taking spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) larvae;... read more


Season late May to late Jul, egg-laying late May to early Jul. Nest a cup of fine twigs and grass, lined with rootlets and hair, placed 2... read more


Long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds from mid-Aug and moves mostly S through Mississippi... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common, but numbers fluctuate in response to periodic outbreaks of spruce budworm. Longer-term declines may have occurred as a... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2019). Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea). 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 on 9 December 2019).