Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Swainson's Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii)


French: Paruline de Swainson German: Swainsonwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita de Swainson

Sylvia Swainsonii


, 1834,

no locality = Edisto River, near Charleston, South Carolina, USA


Birds breeding in Appalachians described as race alta, which is supposedly whiter below and browner (less olive) above in worn spring plumage; in fresh autumn plumage, however, more or less inseparable from lowland birds. Monotypic.


SE USA S from S Missouri, SC Appalachians (West Virginia) and Virginia, and E from E Texas and SE Oklahoma, but excluding Florida Peninsula. Migrates to W Caribbean (Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Swan Is and Cayman Is) and NE Central America (mainly Yucatán Peninsula and Belize).

Descriptive notes

13–14 cm; 14·3–20·4 g. Distinctive parulid with long, deep-based and pointed bill. Has crown warm brown, long whitish supercilium, dark eyestripe;... read more


Song loud and distinctive, 2–4 (usually three) downslurred whistles followed by a series of... read more


Breeds in two distinct habitats. Lowland populations in swampy woodlands, cane brakes with dense... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on insects and other arthropods; recorded also as eating small lizards. Spiders (Araneae) may be preponderant in the diet.... read more


Season May–Jul, exceptionally to early Aug; at least one recent report of double-brooding. One case of probable polygyny reported.... read more


Short-distance to medium-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds from Aug, arriving in winter... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Listed as a species of conservation concern by US Fish & Wildlife Service. Uncommon to locally fairly common. Has declined... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2020). Swainson's Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii). 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).