This large "skulking" warbler is a rare migrant in Tennessee, and usually found low in thickets foraging on or near the ground. It breeds in the boreal forest of central Canada and the states bordering the Great Lakes, and migrates to the forest of the Amazon region in South America. Alexander Wilson was the first to describe this bird while visiting the state of Connecticut in the fall of 1812. Interestingly, it is only an uncommon migrant there. While the Connecticut Warbler is a rare migrant throughout Tennessee, it is more frequently encountered in spring in the middle and eastern parts of the state from late April to late May, and possibly in the fall from early September to mid-October.
Description: Both the male and female are olive-gray above, dull yellow below, have a slate-gray hood, and a bold white eye-ring. The legs are a bright pink. Juvenile is similar to adult, but with duller and browner head and a paler throat.
Weight: 0.53 oz
Voice: The song is a loud, clear series of four-syllabled phrases chippy-chuppy, chippy-chuppy, chippy-chuppy.
- Mourning Warbler lacks eye-ring and male has a pronounced black patch in the middle of the breast. Juvenile Mourning Warblers may have an eye-ring, but it is usually narrow and often broken.
- Nashville Warbler has a similar eye-ring, but has yellow throat, is much smaller and slimmer, and forages higher in trees.
Habitat: In migration it can be found in weedy and shrubby thickets and in wooded areas with dense underbrush. It usually stays low and close to the ground.
Diet: Spiders, insects, and some fruit.
Nesting and reproduction: The Connecticut Warbler has not been documented nesting in Tennessee.
Status in Tennessee: Rare migrant; more frequently seen in spring in Middle and East Tennessee; extremely rare in West Tennessee; few fall records exist statewide. Possible dates to see this bird are from late April to late May and again from early September to mid-October.
Dynamic map of Connecticut Warbler eBird observations in Tennessee
- In the fall of 1812 Alexander Wilson first described this species from a specimen that he collected in Connecticut. He was probably not aware that the Connecticut Warbler does not breed in the state and is not even a common migrant there.
- The Connecticut Warbler has been the subject of few behavioral studies either on the breeding or wintering grounds primarily because its skulking habits make it a difficult bird to study.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Weedy and shrubby thickets and in wooded areas with dense underbrush in Middle and East Tennessee during spring migration.
For more information:
Pitocchelli, J., J. Bouchie, and D. Jones. 1997. Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis). The Birds of North America, No. 320 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, 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.