Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Black-throated Grey Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens)


French: Paruline grise German: Trauerwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita gris

Sylvia nigrescens

J. K. Townsend

, 1837,

no locality = vicinity of Fort William, near Portland, Oregon, USA


Closely related to S. chrysoparia, S. virens, S. townsendi and S. occidentalis; probably split off from this prior to initial Pleistocene glaciations and before the four allospecies within it evolved. Hybridization with S. townsendi and with S. occidentalis reported. Race halseii considered invalid by some authors, although nucleotide-sequence divergence between the two races is similar to that between S. townsendi and S. occidentalis. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. n. nigrescens (J. K. Townsend, 1837) – SW Canada (S British Columbia) S on coast and in coastal mountain ranges of W USA to N California; migrates to wintering areas mainly in W Mexico (S Sonora S to Oaxaca).
  • S. n. halseii (Giraud, 1841) – W USA E of the Cascades (from Washington and Wyoming S to California and New Mexico) and extreme NW & N Mexico (N Baja California, extreme NE Sonora); most migrate to W Mexico (including S Baja California).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 6–10·3 g. Male nominate race has black head and throat with broad white supercilium behind eye and broad white submoustachial area (giving... read more


    Two song types. Type 1 song variable, consists of several buzzy notes, often doubled, followed by a... read more


    Breeds in dry, open mixed woodland, generally containing pines (Pinus) and firs (Abies... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds principally, perhaps almost exclusively, on insects, especially small caterpillars; a vagrant in Oct (in Georgia, in SE USA) was... read more


    Season May–Jul, egg-laying May–Jun. Nest a cup of plant fibres, grasses and weed stalks, lined with feathers and hair,... read more


    Migratory; some of race halseii breeding in extreme S of range possibly resident.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common throughout range. Overall, population generally regarded as stable. Estimates of breeding density include 24... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. (2019). Black-throated Grey Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens). 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 19 July 2019).