Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)


French: Paruline de Townsend German: Townsendwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita de Townsend

Sylvia townsendi

J. K. Townsend

, 1837,

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


Closely related to S. chrysoparia, S. virens, S. occidentalis and S. nigrescens; probably the sister-species of S. occidentalis, and they have occasionally been treated as conspecific. Hybridizes frequently with latter species (producing fertile young) in Oregon and Washington#R#R; hybridization also with S. nigrescens, S. virens and S. coronata recorded. Birds breeding on Queen Charlotte Is (and wintering in Oregon and California) average slightly shorter-winged than others, and has been suggested that they warrant subspecific recognition; further study required. Monotypic.


Alaska and NW Canada (S from Yukon Territory, E to S Alberta and [rare] SW Saskatchewan) S in USA to Oregon and Idaho. Migrates mainly to region from N Mexico S to Nicaragua, also in smaller numbers S to Panama; also to coastal W USA and NW Baja California (NW Mexico).

Descriptive notes

12–13 cm; 7·3–10·7 g. Male has black ear-coverts broadly surrounded with yellow, yellow lower eye-crescent, black crown and black throat (giving... read more


Two song types. Type 1 song rises in pitch and often drops at end, can be transcribed as “... read more


Breeds in mature, tall coniferous forest, especially where firs (Abies) dominate;... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds almost exclusively on insects and other arthropods; takes some seeds and honeydew. Forages by gleaning and flycatching, mainly high... read more


Season May–Jul, egg-laying May–Jun. Nest a bulky, shallow cup of bark strips, twigs, grasses and lichens, lined with hair and... read more


Short-distance to long-distance migrant, most moving through W mountains and along coast between... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common throughout range. Breeding density higher in mature coniferous forests than in younger managed ones; one study in NE... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2019). Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi). 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 23 August 2019).