Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis)


French: Paruline à tête jaune German: Einsiedelwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita cabecigualda

Sylvia occidentalis

J. K. Townsend

, 1837,

forests of Columbia River = Fort Vancouver, Clarke County, Washington, USA


Closely related to S. chrysoparia, S. virens, S. townsendi and S. nigrescens; probably the sister-species of S. townsendi, and they have occasionally been considered conspecific. Hybridizes frequently with latter species (producing fertile young); has hybridized also with S. nigrescens. Monotypic.


W USA from coastal mountains of W Washington S to C & S California (including Sierra Nevada). Migrates to non-breeding grounds mainly from N Mexico S to N Nicaragua, casually S to Costa Rica and W Panama; also in smaller numbers to coastal S California.

Descriptive notes

14 cm; 7·7–12·8 g. Male has head mostly yellow, with black throat and hindcrown-nape area; upperparts grey, streak­ed black, greater and median... read more


Two song types. Type 1 song variable (with distinct dialects), but usually consists of a series of... read more


Breeds in mature, tall coniferous forest, especially where Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds almost entirely on insectsBird capturing a caterpillar and other arthropods, mainly spiders (Araneae). Forages mainly by... read more


Season May–Jul, egg-laying May–Jun. Nest a cup of woody plant fibres and pine needles, held together with spider webs, placed 1... read more


Migratory, most moving through W mountains between breeding and wintering grounds; some follow... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout range. In coastal mountains of Oregon, densities of 69·6 birds/40 ha were recorded in young stands of Douglas fir, compared... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis). 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 20 July 2019).