Kentucky Warbler

Geothlypis formosa
Kentucky Warbler specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the Kentucky Warbler is most easily identified by its olive-green back, yellow breast and throat, black eye-stripes, and yellow eye-rings. Other field marks include a short tail, pale legs, and thin bill. Male and female Kentucky Warblers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Kentucky Warbler breeds in the eastern and southeastern United States from New York south to northern Florida and west to Oklahoma. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering from central Mexico south to northern South America. Despite this species’ small size, Kentucky Warblers cross the Gulf of Mexico twice a year while on migration, and are occasionally reported resting on ships in the Gulf. Kentucky Warblers breed in thick deciduous forests with large amounts of undergrowth, particularly those near water. In winter, this species inhabits humid tropical forests with similar quantities of undergrowth to those forests used during the summer. Kentucky Warblers eat small invertebrates, including beetles, caterpillars, and spiders. Due to this species’ preference for heavily vegetated habitats, Kentucky Warblers are much more easily heard than seen. Birdwatchers may listen for this species’ “churry-churry-churry-churry” song, or may attempt to observe it foraging for insects deep in the undergrowth. Kentucky Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Common summer resident of floodplain and upland deciduous forests, from late April to early August. Breeds from mid-May to late June. The male has the crown (the area around the eye and the side of the throat) black; the female has these parts grayish and less clearly defined.

Specimen Information

The bird in front is a male.
The bird at the top is a female.
Date:  6/6/1892
Collected By:  EM Hasbrouck
Locality:  Marshall Hall, MD
Sex:  Female
Catalog ID:  160751

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53845 Oporornis formosus (Kentucky Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53846 Oporornis formosus (Kentucky Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53847 Oporornis formosus (Kentucky Warbler)