Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons)


French: Paruline à calotte rousse German: Rotkappen-Waldsänger Spanish: Reinita coronirrufa

Setophaga rufifrons


, 1838,



Races form two groups, N “white-bellied group” (first four races listed) and S “yellow-bellied group” (last four races). Latter group sometimes treated as separate species, differing in its yellow vs white belly (3); pale chestnut vs rufous crown (1); lack of repetition of identical notes in song, but with a cline towards this where it approaches white-bellied group and with such repetitions fully present in race salvini (ns)#R; narrow white collar-line behind ear-coverts, a character of white-bellied group, also present in yellow-bellied salvini (ns). Interbreeding between the two groups apparently extensive in Guatemala, and possibly also in S Mexico (SE Chiapas), El Salvador and Honduras. Proposed race flavigaster (N Oaxaca) synonymized with nominate race. Eight subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. r. caudatus Nelson, 1899 – NW Mexico (Sonora and W Chihuahua S to N Durango).
  • B. r. dugesi Ridgway, 1892 – C Mexico (S Sinaloa and W Durango S to S Puebla and W Oaxaca).
  • B. r. jouyi Ridgway, 1892 – NE Mexico (Coahuila#R, Nuevo León and W Tamaulipas S to E Hidalgo and C Veracruz).
  • B. r. rufifrons (Swainson, 1838) – Rufous-capped Warbler – highlands of S Mexico and C Guatemala.
  • B. r. salvini Cherrie, 1891 – S Gulf slope in S Mexico (S Veracruz, N Oaxaca), N Guatemala and S Belize.
  • B. r. delattrii Bonaparte, 1854 – Chestnut-capped Warbler – S Guatemala (probably also extreme SE Chiapas, in adjacent Mexico) S to C Costa Rica.
  • B. r. mesochrysus P. L. Sclater, 1860 – S Costa Rica S to N & C Colombia (S to Huila) and extreme W Venezuela (Sierra de Perijá).
  • B. r. actuosus Wetmore, 1957 – Coiba I, off S Panama.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 7–16 g. Has characteristic habit of cocking tail and flicking wings. Nominate race has crown and ear-coverts rufous (crown feathers narrowly tipped grey in fresh... read more


    A fast, dry series of jumbled notes on various pitches and often running into a trill; rather... read more


    Scrub, brushy ravines, open woodland and young second growth, forest edges and coffee plantations;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates; some berries also taken. Forages mainly by gleaning at low to middle levels; actions slow... read more


    Eggs usually laid in Apr–Jun in Middle America; birds in breeding condition in Jan on Coiba I and in Nov in Colombia. Pair remains on... read more


    Generally sedentary. Individuals of N "white-bellied group" have occurred as vagrants in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common over most of its range; no population estimates available. Has made at least one breeding attempt in S USA (Arizona). This species'... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. (2020). Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons). 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 24 January 2020).