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Adult male
Range Map

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler
Geothylpis philadelphia

The Mourning Warbler usually remains hidden in low and dense vegetation. It is a common breeding bird across Canada east of the Rockies and in the northeastern United States, and is a rare migrant in Tennessee. The Mourning Warbler is most likely to be found in Middle Tennessee during spring migration as the birds return from their wintering grounds in southern Central America and northern South America.

Description: This is a small songbird that is olive-green above, yellow below, has gray hood, and pink legs. The breeding male has a darker hood with a patch of black where the hood meets the chest. Females and juveniles are duller and may have a thin incomplete eye-ring.

Length: 5.25"
0.44 oz

Voice: Song is a short, rhythmic series of two-syllable phrases, chirry, chirry, chirry, chorry, chorry, with the last phrases lower.

Similar Species:

Habitat: Weedy and shrubby thickets, disturbed second-growth forested areas, and wooded areas with dense underbrush.

Diet: Insects, insect larvae, and spiders

Nesting and reproduction: The Mourning Warbler has not been documented nesting in Tennessee.

Status in Tennessee: Rare migrant. Most likely to be seen from early May to late May and in fall from early September to early October. There are more spring records than fall records, and twice as many records for Middle Tennessee than in other parts of the state.

Dynamic map of Mourning Warbler eBird observations in Tennessee

Fun Facts:

  • The name "mourning" warbler refers to the male's hood, thought to resemble a mourning veil.
  • Both male and female Mourning Warblers pretend to have broken wings to distract predators close to their nest.
  • The adult female Mourning Warbler eats the eggshells after the young hatch.
  • The philadelphia in the scientific name comes from the city where Alexander Wilson first collected this bird in 1810. This species is actually less common in Philadelphia than in many other places.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Weedy and shrubby thickets and in wooded areas with dense underbrush in Middle Tennessee during spring migration.

For more information:


Pitocchelli, J. 1993. Mourning Warbler (Oporornis philadelphia). The Birds of North America, No. 72 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. of TN Press, Knoxville, TN.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Consider using the online bird checklist program at eBird to help us understand bird populations and distributions in Tennessee. Click here to see how.