SPECIES

Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis

Len R. Reitsma, Michael T. Hallworth, Marissa McMahon, and Courtney J. Conway
Version: 2.0 — Published May 7, 2020

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Adult male

Medium-sized warbler with a long tail, bold eyering, and black necklace on a yellow breast.

Adult female/immature

Adult females/immature males are dull gray above and yellow below with a faint necklace and a small amount of black on the face.

Immature female

Immature females are dull gray with a white eyering and a very faint necklace. Note lack of black in the face.

Adult male

Adult males have a yellow throat and belly separated by a distinctive black necklace. Often appears as if wearing yellow goggles.

Adult male

Adult males have a yellow throat and belly separated by a distinctive black necklace. Note white undertail coverts and darker tail.

Habitat

Breeds in mixed evergreen-deciduous forests with a well-developed understory.

Juvenile Canada Warbler (8 August).

Upperparts drab brown or grayish brown; sides of head and neck pale buff brown, wood brown, or olive brown. Eye ring is pale buff or off-white. Underparts are dull yellow, washed with pale wood brown or olive brown on throat, breast, and flanks.

Juvenile Canada Warbler (29 June).
Possible Formative male Canada Warbler (09 September).

Much duller than Definitive Basic male: forehead and anterior part of crown washed more heavily with yellow or buffy brown; black on forehead and crown less extensive; remainder of upperparts washed more with olive-green. Note, molt limits between replaced formative, grayish blue upperwing greater coverts, contrasting with older, more faded, and greener to brownish-green retained juvenile primary coverts.

Possible Formative male Canada Warbler (22 October).

Yellow of underparts duller and more greenish than in Definitive Basic, the necklace spots duller, less sharply defined, and dark grayish to dull blackish instead of black.

Presumed Formative female Canada Warbler (13 September).

Formative females are similar to Definitive Basic females, but duller: the forehead often yellowish olive; and the remainder of upperparts more brownish or olivaceous, particularly on crown and back.

Presumed Formative female Canada Warbler (3 September).

Necklace spots on breast smaller than in Definitive Basic, less numerous, and sometimes extremely pale, appearing as a grayish wash at a distance. Retained juvenile outer primaries and rectrices thinner, more pointed, browner, and relatively more worn.

Possible First Alternate male Canada Warbler (19 July).

First Alternate male is similar to Definitive Alternate male except averages duller overall: upperparts often tinged olive; black feather centers on forecrown sometimes more restricted; black area on upper cheek and lower side of neck averages narrower; black necklace on breast narrower, often less sharply defined at rear, where black spots often grade into smaller dark or pale olive spots. New crown feathers contrast with worn feathers in occipital area.

Possible First Alternate female Canada Warbler (19 July).

First Alternate females are similar to Definitive Alternate females, but upperparts are tinged green; the forecrown with fewer or no black on feathers; the face pattern less distinct; the necklace on breast is blackish, often restricted to some spots on side. Note, retained juvenile outer primaries and rectrices thinner, more pointed, browner, and relatively worn.

Possible First Alternate male Canada Warbler (19 July).
Definitive Basic male Canada Warbler (3 November).

Forehead and crown blackish, the feathers broadly edged with neutral gray when fresh. Lores and lower auriculars, extending to submalar and lower side of neck, blackish; short, bright sulphur-yellow supraloral stripe from nostril to just above front corner of eye; broad and conspicuous white to lemon-yellow eye ring, often yellower above eye. Underparts from chin to vent dull lemon-yellow to gamboge yellow; sides of throat to sides of breast with sparse small dusky marks; breast with longitudinal rows of dull black to chateura-black, rounded or triangular spots, the feathers fringed with yellow when fresh obscuring necklace; sides and flanks washed greenish olive when fresh; undertail coverts white.

Definitive Basic male Canada Warbler (14 February).

Upperparts gray, the feathers fringed olive when fresh. Tail is grayish black, the rectrices narrowly edged on outer webs with gray or dark blue-gray of upperparts (faint or absent on outermost rectrix). Upperwing coverts bluish gray, the centers of the lesser and median coverts and inner webs of the greater coverts grayish black; remiges, tertials, primary coverts, and alula grayish black, fringed along outer webs with bluish gray.

Possible Definitive Basic female Canada Warbler (10 September).
Definitive Alternate male Canada Warbler (13 May).

Upperparts gray, fringed olive when fresh. Tail grayish black, the rectrices narrowly edged on outer webs with gray or dark blue-gray of upperparts. Upperwing coverts bluish gray, the centers of the lesser and median coverts and inner webs of the greater coverts grayish black; remiges, tertials, primary coverts, and alula grayish black, fringed along outer webs with bluish gray.

Definitive Alternate male Canada Warbler (24 May).

Forehead and crown blackish to dark slate-gray, the feathers broadly edged with neutral gray when fresh. Lores and lower auriculars, extending to submalar and lower side of neck, blackish; short, bright sulphur-yellow supraloral stripe from nostril to just above front corner of eye; broad and conspicuous white to lemon-yellow eye ring, often yellower above eye. Sides of throat to sides of breast with sparse small dusky marks; breast with longitudinal rows of dull black to chateura-black, rounded or triangular spots

Possible Definitive Alternate female Canada Warbler (26 May).

Definitive Alternate female is similar to Definitive Basic Female but head plumage brighter and better-marked; necklace blacker and more distinctly defined.

Possible Definitive Alternate female Canada Warbler (26 May).
Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.

Most abundant in moist, mixed coniferous–deciduous forests with a well-developed understory.

Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.
Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.
Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.
Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.
Example of Canada Warbler breeding habitat.

Recommended Citation

Reitsma, L. R., M. T. Hallworth, M. McMahon, and C. J. Conway (2020). Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.canwar.02