Cape May Warbler

(Setophaga tigrina)

Conservation Status
Cape May Warbler
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5B - Secure Breeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Species in Greatest Conservation Need


Cape May Warbler is a small perching bird but a medium-sized New World Warbler. Its breeds in Canada from Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territories, and in the United States in northern New England and the Upper Midwest. It winters in the West Indies. In Minnesota it breeds in Arrowhead region. It is an uncommon migrant in most of the state in May and from early August through October. It is rare in the west.

Cape May Warbler adult is 4¾ to 5 in length and has a wingspan of 7½to 8¾. On the breeding male, the upper parts are dark olive green, the chin, sides of the neck (“collar”), and rump are yellow. The crown is dark and the face is yellow. There is a large chestnut-brown ear patch and a dark eye line. The bill is thin, dark, and slightly curved downward. The breast and flanks are yellow with dark stripes that converge on the throat. The undertail coverts are white. On each wing there is a distinct white patch formed by the greater coverts. The tail is short.

The female is paler overall and has two thin white wing patches. The crown is olive-gray and there is a grayish cheek patch.




4¾ to 5 in length

7½to 8¾ wingspan




Similar Species


Breeding: Mature coniferous and mixed forests

Migration: Forests, woodlands, and thickets




May and early August through October




The nest is built in a mature forest near the top of a tall spruce or balsam fir tree usually near the trunk.




Insects, especially spruce budworm; flower nectar; and fruit juices




Uncommon migrant, sporadic breeder




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Passeriformes (perching birds)  


Parulidae (New World warblers, wood warblers)  


Setophaga (redstarts)  

In 2011 all of the wood warblers were reclassified resulting in new genus names for almost all of them. The genus Dendroica, with 29 members, was merged with the genus Setophaga, with just 3 members. All of the former Dendroica species have been renamed to Setophaga.

Cape May Warbler, formerly Dendroica tigrina, is now Setophaga tigrina.




Dendroica tigrina











Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this bird.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Ramona Abrego

    Cape May Warbler   Cape May Warbler  
    Cape May Warbler      





Cape May Warbler
JMC Nature Photos
  Cape May Warbler  



Visitor Videos

Share your video of this bird.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Setophaga tigrina CAPE MAY WARBLER feeding
Rob Curtis

Oct 11, 2019

Setophaga tigrina CAPE MAY WARBLER feeding on scale insects, trying for flying insects, scared by wasp, Montrose Point, Chicago, 9/23/2019.

  Cape May Warbler (Setophaga/Dendroica tigrina)
Carl Barrentine

May 20, 2013

This migrant male Cape May Warbler (Setophaga/Dendroica tigrina) takes a brief respite from foraging to dry and vigorously preen on too cold, too wet mid-May day in Grand Forks, North Dakota (20 May 2013).




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this bird.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.
  Ramona Abrego

Location: Washington County

Cape May Warbler  






Created: 7/11/2020

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.