Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)


Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)


French: Paruline azurée German: Blauwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita cerúlea

Sylvia cerulea

A. Wilson

, 1810,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Has been suggested that S. fusca is its closest relative, on basis mainly of similarities in vocalizations, but a recent molecular phylogeny recovered this species as sister to both S. americana and S. pitiayumi (which were both previously placed in Parula)#R. Has hybridized with Mniotilta varia. Monotypic.


Locally in SE Canada (SE Ontario, extreme S Quebec) S in E USA to N Alabama and Virginia (absent coastal Atlantic and Gulf lowlands). Migrates to W South America from N Colombia and Venezuela S to S Peru and W Bolivia.

Descriptive notes

10–13 cm; 8·4–10·3 g. Rather short-tailed and plump-looking parulid. Male breeding has head and upperparts deep cerulean-blue with black streaks,... read more


Sings Type 1 and Type 2 songs, but these very similar and differ mainly in rate of delivery and... read more


Breeds in open, mature, old-growth deciduous (occasionally mixed) forest with tall trees and... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds almost entirely on insects and other invertebrates, mainly spiders (Araneae); may take small fatty masses attached to fruits of... read more


Season late Apr–Jul, egg-laying May–Jun. Nest a shallow cup of bark strips, grass and weed stalks, lined with hair and rootlets... read more


Long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds from late Jul (some not until early Sept), moving... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Listed as a species of conservation concern by US Fish & Wildlife Service. Locally common. Has declined sharply, despite a range expansion in NE of breeding... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J., Christie, D.A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea). 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 August 2019).