Orange-Crowned Warbler

Leiothlypis celata
Range Map

Once, we classified these birds as Vermivora celata. Later we named them Oreothlypis celata. Scientists can’t seem to agree on what to call the Orange-Crowned Warbler. It will be interesting how long Leiothlypis celata will stick.

Their breeding habitat is open shrubby areas across Canada, Alaska and the western United States. The nest is a small open cup well-concealed on the ground under vegetation or low in shrubs.

In San Diego and most of the west coastal strip, they are year-round residents. Most of their population migrates back to Central America in the winter. When I visited south Texas in January and February 2021, I learned it was a winter home for many of these warblers.

Science recognizes four subspecies of this warbler:

  • L. c. celata breeds on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island, and throughout Alaska’s mountains, across Canada from Yukon and the MacKenzie Valley (NWT) to the Maritime Provinces. They spend winters in the Bahamas, the southeastern USA, eastern Mexico, northern Central America, and sometimes south to Bermuda.
  • L. c. orestera breeds in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin ranges from the Yukon and British Columbia (Canada) south Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas and the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada range (California). They spend winters in southern California, southern Nevada, central Arizona, and southern Texas south through the mountains of Mexico to Oaxaca.
  • L. c. lutescens breeds commonly from south-central Alaska, south along the coast through southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, southwestern California and northern Baja California. They spend winters from central California and southwestern Arizona through Baja California and western Mexico, and possibly northern Central America.
  • L. c. sordida is resident in southern California and northern Mexico.

The birds that visit my southern California yard (L. c. sordida) where I live in San Diego County sing enthusiastic songs that trill with such a rapid-fire trill, it almost sounds like a long single note.

Click map markers to reveal further information