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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Geographic Variation

No geographic variation in size, vocalizations, or plumage coloration has been described (8). Individual variation in plumage and song is rather broad, but no studies have examined patterns. However, recent work by Ferrari et al. (32) examined genetic structure across the breeding range and found 8 microsatellite markers that were useful for assessment of genetic diversity. In early analyses, these markers from 3 widely separated populations show potential for characterizing intraspecific neutral genetic diversity and structure among Canada Warbler populations. Their analyses are ongoing, however they did find the North Carolina population they sampled appeared to be distinct from populations in New Hampshire and Northwest Territory, though the latter 2 populations were not distinct from each other.


No subspecies described.

Related Species

The New World warblers (Parulidae) are a key component in a broad and, in geological terms, recent radiation of passerines with 9 primaries that also includes the families Emberizidae, Cardinalidae, Thraupidae, and Icteridae (33, 34, 35). Within Parulidae, the comprehensive phylogenetic study by Lovette et al. (36) greatly altered our view of generic relationships. One of several key findings was that the genus Wilsonia, in which Canada Warbler was formerly placed, was paraphyletic. From this former genus, Setophaga [Wilsonia] citrina (Hooded Warbler) was more closely related to Setophaga ruticilla (American Redstart) and species placed in the now defunct genus Dendroica, whereas the other two species placed in Wilsonia, C. [Wilsonia] canadensis and C. [Wilsonia] pusilla (Wilson's Warbler) were nearer to Cardellina rubrifrons (Red-faced Warbler). As a result, Wilsonia, like Dendroica, disappeared as the two species were merged into Cardellina (37). Within the newly expanded Cardellina, C. canadensis appears to be sister to the rest of the species in the genus, which also includes species formerly in the genus Ergaticus, C. rubra (Red Warbler) and C. versicolor (Pink-headed Warbler). Within Parulidae, Cardellina appears to be sister to Myioborus (36).

Cardellina canadensis is reported to have hybridized with Geothlypis philadelphia (Mourning Warbler; 8) and with Oporornis agilis (Connecticut Warbler; 38).


The name Cardellina canadensis (Linnaeus, 1766) includes as junior synonyms Sylvia pardalina Bonaparte, 1824; Muscicapa bonapartii Audubon, 1831; Setophaga nigrocincta Lafresnaye, 1843; and Myiodioctes caerulescens Lawrence, 1876.

Fossil History

No information.

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