Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

MacGillivray's Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei)


French: Paruline des buissons German: Dickichtwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita de Tolmie

Sylvia Tolmiei

J. K. Townsend

, 1839,

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


Forms a species pair with G. philadelphia; their ranges overlap in W Canada (Peace Region of British Columbia). Claimed hybrids from this zone have been considered variants of G. philadelphia with white eye-crescents (such variants occur throughout that species’ range), but recent analysis combining molecular and morphological data sets confirms numerous hybrid individuals with mixed characters, including 18 of 50 birds genotyped (36%) showing both western and eastern alleles#R. Proposed races austinsmithi (described from near Chico, in Montana) and intermedia (described from Okanagan, in S British Columbia) synonymized with monticola. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. t. tolmiei (J. K. Townsend, 1839) – Pacific coastal region and Cascades from extreme SE Alaska and S Yukon S in W USA to C California; migrates to region from Mexico S to Guatemala, in smaller numbers to W Panama.
  • G. t. monticola (A. R. Phillips, 1947) – SW Canada (E British Columbia, S Alberta and SW Saskatchewan) S in Rocky Mts and adjacent areas to Arizona and New Mexico, with isolated population in Black Hills of South Dakota–NE Wyoming; also N Mexico (SE Coahuila and S Nuevo León); migrates to Mexico and Guatemala.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 8·6–12·6 g. Male nominate race has grey hood with black lores, conspicuous thick white eye-crescents, some black mottling on breast (in fresh... read more


    Song 3–4 buzzy "tchee" notes on one pitch, followed by 2–3 more warbled... read more


    Breeds at up to 300 m elevation in forest clearings and edges with dense understorey, also in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds almost entirely on insects and other arthropods, especially bugs (Hemiptera), leafhoppers (Homoptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and... read more


    Season May–Aug, egg-laying May–Jul. Nest a cup of grasses and weed stalks, lined with fine grasses, hair and rootlets, hidden... read more


    Medium-distance to long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds from early Aug, moving S along W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common throughout range. Estimated densities on breeding grounds vary, 0·26–1·21 birds/ha. On wintering grounds,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. (2020). MacGillivray's Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei). 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 February 2020).