Monday, September 3, 2012

Warbler Identification: Orange-crowned vs. Tennessee

Just as with the Bay-breasted and Blackpoll identification challenge, the challenge when identifying Orange-crowned and Tennessee comes into effect only when dealing with first fall Tennessee Warblers.  In the eastern United States, Tennessee Warblers are one of the most common warblers.  Due to many birders wanting to see Orange-crowned they misidentify the common Tennessee as an Orange-crowned.

Orange-crowned Warbler


  • blurry gray streaking down the sides
  • bright yellow eye-arcs
  • olive back
  • bright yellow undertail coverts
  • plain greenish wings
  • long tail creates a longer look than Tennessee
Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler (adult)-notice the yellow eye-arcs, bright yellow undertail coverts,
blurry streaking on the sides and chest, and the long tail

First Fall

  • grayish head contrasts with yellow chest and olive back
  • blurry gray streaking on chest and down sides
  • yellow undertail coverts contrasting with white belly
  • very weak wingbars

Orange-crowned Warbler (immature)
First fall Orange-crowned Warbler:  Notice the contrast between the gray head and yellow
chest, blurry streaking throughout chest and sides, and yellow undertail coverts
To see the photographer's photostream go to:

Tennessee Warbler

First Fall:

  • Yellowish from head down to belly with white undertail coverts
  • weak, yellow wing bars
  • fairly strong eye-line with a yellow supercillium
  • Short-tailed:  not much tail from the end of the undertail coverts to the end of the tail

Tennessee Warbler 20120829
Tennessee Warbler (first fall):  Notice the dark eye line, weak yellow wingbars, and white
undertail coverts
To see the Photographer's photostream go to: 


Dan Huber said...

Great informative post.

Julie Brown said...

Thanks for the link to this article, Rob!

ND Birder said...

Found this while trying to ID a bird I'd seen/photographed recently. This put me on the right track, your informative post is much appreciated.