The Nashville Warbler does not now and never has bred in Tennessee. The name comes from the specimen that Alexander Wilson collected on the banks of the Cumberland River while the bird was on migration in 1811. This small songbird breeds both in New England and eastern Canada, and in the mountainous Pacific Northwest; it winters primarily in central and southern Mexico. The Nashville Warbler is a fairly common migrant across Tennessee and is present from mid-April to mid-May and then again from early September to late October.
Description: This small drab songbird has a prominent white eye-ring, a plain olive back and wings, a yellow throat, chest and under-tail, a white belly, and a gray head. The male has a rust crown-patch that is often not visible, and juvenile birds are similar to adults but duller.
Weight: 0.3 oz
Voice: The song is a fairly slow, two-part musical trill seewit seewit seewit ti ti ti
- Tennessee and Orange-crowned warblers lack white eye-rings.
- Connecticut Warbler is a rare migrant in Tennessee and is much larger and heavier than the Nashville, has a gray hood that extends all the way through the throat and upper breast, and is found primarily on the ground.
Habitat: During migration found in second-growth deciduous or mixed forest with shrubby undergrowth.
Diet: Insects and insect larvae.
Nesting and reproduction: The Nashville Warbler has not been documented nesting in Tennessee.
Status in Tennessee: Fairly common migrant across the state.
Dynamic map of Nashville Warbler eBird observations in Tennessee
- The genus name for the Nashville Warbler was changed from Vermivora to Oreothlypis in the summer 2010 by the American Ornithologists' Union, the authority on bird taxonomy in North America.
- The eastern and western breeding populations of the Nashville Warbler were once thought to be separate species. The Western population was named "Calaveras Warbler" and tends to wag its tail while the eastern birds do not.
- Most first-year Nashville Warblers migrate along the Atlantic coast, while adults tend to migrate along inland routes.
Best places to see in Tennessee: In mixed-species foraging flocks in woodland habitats across the state during spring and fall migrations.
For more information:
Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. of TN Press, Knoxville, TN.
Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
Williams, J. M. 1996. Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla). The Birds of North America, No. 205 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and the American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Consider using the online bird checklist program at eBird to help us understand bird populations and distributions in Tennessee. Click here to see how.