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Wilson's Warbler

Silhouette WarblersWarblers
Wilson's WarblerCardellina pusilla
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Parulidae

Basic Description

Wilson’s Warblers dance around willow and alder thickets, often near water, to the rapid beat of their chattering song. This bright yellow warbler with a black cap is one of the smallest warblers in the U.S. and among the most recognizable. They rarely slow down, dashing between shrubs, grabbing insects from one leaf after another, and popping up on low perches to sing. Wilson's Warblers breed in mountains and northern forests, but pass through every state in the lower 48 during migration—so be on the lookout when they are on the move in the spring and fall.

More ID Info
image of range map for Wilson's Warbler
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Wilson’s Warblers breed mainly in the far north, so for many people they're easiest to find during migration. Spring can be the best time, as males often sing during migration. Look for them in shrubby tangles along streams or ponds or even forested edges and take a moment to listen for their rapid song. Unlike most warblers, they tend to forage at lower levels which makes finding them easier; no neck craning needed. The only real challenge is getting them in your binoculars. They don’t tend to stay still for long, so watch carefully and have your binoculars ready.

Other Names

  • Reinita de Wilson (Spanish)
  • Paruline à calotte noire (French)

Backyard Tips

Wilson’s Warblers do not visit feeders, but you can provide habitat for them in your yard by landscaping with native trees and shrubs. Creating a bird-friendly backyard for Wilson’s Warblers even if they are not breeding in your area may help them out during migration.

  • Cool Facts