Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Red Warbler (Cardellina rubra)


French: Paruline rouge German: Purpurwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita roja

Setophaga rubra


, 1827,

woods of Valladolid [= Morelia], Michoacán, Mexico


Has been considered conspecific with C. versicolor, but differs in plumage (especially head pattern) and no indication of increased similarity in S of range, where geographically closest. Recent phylogeographic study recovered race melanauris in a clade apart from white-eared birds, but the other two clades within the species did not precisely conform to subspecific limits#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. r. melanauris (R. T. Moore, 1937) – Black-eared Red Warbler – NW Mexico in Sierra Madre Occidental from SW Chihuahua S to N Nayarit.
  • C. r. rubra (Swainson, 1827) – White-eared Red Warbler – C & W Mexico (Jalisco SE to N Oaxaca).
  • C. r. rowleyi (Orr & Webster, 1968) – Guerrero and S Oaxaca (S Mexico).
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 7·6–8·7 g. Nominate race is bright rose-red, with contrasting silvery-white ear-coverts; upperwing and tail darker, brown, with narrow red edgings... read more


    Song a varied series of warbling trills on different pitches, interspersed with rich warbling notes... read more


    Breeds mainly in humid and semi-humid pine (Pinus), fir (Abies) and pine-oak (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects. Forages by gleaning in understorey and up to middle levels. Pair-members remain together throughout year; may join mixed-... read more


    Little known. Season primarily Feb–May, egg-laying probably mainly Mar–Apr. Nest an oven-shaped structure of grasses and pine... read more


    Altitudinal migrant; descends from humid pine-forest zone to oak-forest zone during winter.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally fairly common to common throughout its range. No population estimates available.

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. (2019). Red Warbler (Cardellina rubra). 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 22 September 2019).