Brief SummaryRead full entry
A small (4 ¾ inches) wood warbler, the male Tennessee Warbler is most easily identified by its dull green wings and body, pale gray breast, and conspicuous white eye-stripes. The female is similar to the male, but is darker yellow below and on the head, with less visible eye-stripes. Both sexes are paler than the related Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) and greener than the similar-looking but unrelated Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus). The Tennessee Warbler breeds across much of central and southern Canada, with small numbers breeding just south of the United States border in New England and the upper Midwest. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering in southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. On migration, Tennessee Warblers may be found elsewhere in the eastern U.S.; ironically, this is the only time when this species might actually be encountered in Tennessee. Tennessee Warblers breed in a variety of northern forest habitat types, primarily those containing willow, alder, spruce, and fir trees. In winter, this species occurs in semi-open portions of tropical forests. Tennessee Warblers eat small invertebrates, primarily insects (including caterpillars) and spiders, but may also eat fruits and nectar in winter when those foods are available. Due to this species’ preference for heavily vegetated habitats, Tennessee Warblers are much more easily heard than seen. Birdwatchers may listen for this species’ “ticka ticka ticka ticka, swit swit, chew-chew-chew-chew-chew” song, or may attempt to observe it foraging for insects deep in the undergrowth. Tennessee Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.