Hooded Warbler

Setophaga citrina


Early Spring Date: April 12
Late Spring Date: May 25
Best Dates to See in Spring: April 25 - May 7

Spring: Hooded Warblers show up at Monticello Park every spring, but never in great numbers. They sometimes are easier to hear than to see. Most come through the park early in the spring, and your best chance to see one is during the last week in April and the first week in May. They nest in the Washington metro area, but not at Monticello. Their preferred nesting habitat is in dense understory of deciduous forests, often near water.

Fall: Only about 4 Hooded Warblers are recorded at Monticello each year during fall migration. The most likely time to see one is during the last week in September.

Where to See Them in the Park

Hooded Warblers usually stay low to the ground, but they sometimes can be seen in trees 15-20 feet off the ground. They often hang around on the ridge, especially near the fence line by the Kust property. They also have been seen on the knoll side in the vegetation in the top half of the park.

Physical Description


Hooded Warbler Male
Male - Photo by William Higgins
Hooded Warbler Male
Male - Photo by William Higgins

The male is a large warbler with a distinctive black hood that extends down his neck to form a black bib. The bright yellow face has a large dark eye in the middle. You can see the rictal bristles next to his bill. The underparts are yellow, and the back is olive, with no wingbars. The legs are long and pink.

Hooded Warbler Female
Female - Photo by William Higgins

Some adult female Hooded Warblers have a partial hood that is not as pronounced as the male's. There is no black on her solid yellow underparts. Like the male, the female has large black eyes and long pink legs. Both the male and female have rictal bristles at the base of their bill, which you can see on the female above.

Hooded Warbler Female
Female - Photo by William Higgins

Other adult females can be difficult to identify, because they have only a shadow of a black cap.

Hooded Warbler Male
Male - Photo by Michael Pollack

Both male and female Hooded Warblers frequently flash their white tail feathers in flight and when foraging. The three outer tail feathers on each side have long white tips.

Fall: The plumage of Hooded Warblers does not vary much between the spring and fall.

Vocalizations

The song of the Hooded Warbler has one of the favorite mnemonics among Monticello birders — I-wanna-renta-video, or a weeta weeta weetio. The song is loud, and some males sing it frequently, which can help in locating one.

Hear the vocalizations of the Hooded Warbler.

Notes

In a study of 32 species of warblers, the Hooded had the largest eyes. Some of the thrushes who, like the Hooded Warbler, spend a lot of time on forest floors also have large eyes, which allow them to see better in low-light.

Origin of Names

Common Names: Hooded from the black hood. The New World Warblers were named for their similar appearance to European warblers, to whom they are not related. Most of the New World warblers do not warble (sing continuously with notes that change frequently).
Genus Name: Setophaga means "moth eating".
Species Name: Citrina means "like a citrus or lemon tree", from the yellow face.

Hooded Warbler video footage

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