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Cape May warbler

Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina) [female]
Photo ©

Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina) [male]
Photo © Rob Curtis/The Early Birder

Features and Behaviors

This bird is about five inches long. The breeding male has red-orange feathers in a patch on each cheek. He has yellow belly feathers, a yellow-feathered rump patch and yellow feathers on the face and neck. The feathers on the top of the head are black. He has two, white wing bars. The female and nonbreeding birds do not have the red-orange cheek feathers or the black cap of feathers on the head, but they do have one wing bar much more prominent than the other and a yellow patch of feathers just past the head on each side. The rest of their coloration is similar to but duller than that of the breeding male.

The Cape May warbler is an uncommon migrant through the state. It prefers conifer trees for resting and feeding but may also be seen at deciduous trees, especially oaks. It eats mainly insects, although fruits may become part of the diet in fall and winter. This species breeds in the northern United States and Canada. It winters in the West Indies. Spring migrants can be seen in Illinois starting in April. Fall migrants begin arriving in the state in August.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae

Illinois Status: common, native