Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)


French: Paruline tigrée German: Tigerwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita atigrada

Motacilla tigrina

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Precise affinities unclear; possible relationships with S. cerulea, S. striata and S. castanea all suggested by the available data. Hybridization with S. coronata reported, but claimed hybrid between S. striata and Parkesia noveboracensis now thought probably to have involved present species, rather than S. striata; bird described in early 19th century as Helinaia carbonata (“Carbonated Warbler”) may have been a hybrid of this species with S. striata, but generally considered to be a first-summer male of present species. Monotypic.


Canada (from SW Northwest Territories and NE British Columbia E to S Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) and NE USA (E Minnesota and C Wisconsin E to N New England). Migrates primarily to Caribbean (mainly Greater Antilles), also Bermuda and, rarely, Central America and N South America.

Descriptive notes

12·5–14 cm; 8·8–17·3 g. A rather slender-billed parulid with curved culmen. Male breeding has orange-chestnut face with rich yellow surrounds... read more


Two song types. Type 1 song a series of very high-pitched, weak sibilant “zi” notes (... read more


Breeds in coniferous boreal forest where spruces (Picea) dominate. Black spruce (Picea... read more

Food and feeding

In summer feeds on insects and other arthropods, especially spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana). Forages mostly high in... read more


Season Jun–Jul, egg-laying Jun. Nest a bulky cup of moss, vine stems and twigs, lined with fine grasses, hair and feathers, placed 0... read more


Long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds mainly during late Aug and Sept, arriving on... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common throughout its range; numbers fluctuate considerably in response to periodic outbreaks of spruce budworm (an... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2019). Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina). 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 7 December 2019).