- Male and female Townsend's Warblers look similar, but females have less black on the head and back.
- The Hermit Warbler, a similar species but much less common locally, sometimes hybridizes with Townsend's Warbler where their northern breeding ranges overlap.
- The species is named after John Kirk Townsend, an early ornithologist in the West.
Bird of the Month
Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)
Photo © Tom Clifton
With its yellow-and-black "mask" and energetic nature, the Townsend's Warbler is an unforgettable visitor to the backyard in fall and winter. The species breeds from Alaska to Oregon and winters along the west coast and into Mexico and Central America. These birds start showing up on the central coast in September and stay until March.
Like other members of their family, Townsend's Warblers spend much of their time high in trees feeding on bugs gleaned from vegetation. They are especially common in Monterey Pine forests, and often join feeding flocks of chickadees and kinglets. Sometimes the birds can be lured to backyards with suet, nuts, and fruit or to drink from a birdbath.