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Number of species: 72

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Bay-breasted Warbler - Setophaga castanea

Older male Bay-breasted Warblers are distinctive throughout the year, but other age/sex classes usually require closer examination of multiple characteristics

Quick Tips:

  • Examine the forehead and crown - in spring ASY males have a dark chestnut crown and black forehead, SY males also have chestnut but with a mottled black forehead, ASY females have an olive crown with traces of chestnut, and SY females have an olive crown lacking chestnut; in fall, all age/sex classes have a greenish crown with faint black streaks, but only AHY males may have traces of chestnut
  • In fall, focus on the flanks - AHY males have moderate to large chestnut patches, HY males and AHY females usually show a hint of chestnut, but HY females lack any chestnut
  • Check the wing for a molt limit on HY/SY individuals between dull brown primary coverts and darker fresher greater coverts; AHY/ASY birds have a more uniformly dark wing
  • Consider the tail - on HY/SY birds the rectrices are typically relatively narrow and pointed, while on AHY/ASY birds they tend to be broader and more rounded; the amount of white on outer tail feathers does not appear to reliably indicate age or sex

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Male
Crown greenish with faint black streaks; moderately distinct black streaks on back; flanks sometimes with a hint of chestnut; dull gray-brown primary coverts contrasting with darker greater coverts; narrow and tapered rectrices
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43435-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2189.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43435-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2191.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43435-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2190.jpg
Date: Aug 26
Hatch year / Unknown
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16365-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2195.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16365-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2197.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16365-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2196.jpg
Date: Aug 22
After hatch year / Male
Crown greenish with faint black streaks and often a hint of chestnut; distinct black streaks on back; moderate to large chestnut flank patches; no moltl imit between greater and primary coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79036-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2182.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79036-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2180.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79036-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2181.jpg
Date: Sep 13
After hatch year / Female
Crown greenish with faint black streaks; faint black streaks on back; flanks usually with a hint of chestnut; no molt limit between greater and primary coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16386-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2185.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16386-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2183.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16386-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2184.jpg
Date: Aug 28
Second year / Male
Forehead and cheek mottled blackish; crown medium chestnut with some mottling; medium chestnut throat; rectrices narrow and tapered
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41348-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2179.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41348-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2177.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41348-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2178.jpg
Date: May 18
Second year / Female
Crown olive with black streaking; head lacking chestnut patches; throat buffy; rectrices narrow and tapered
Thumbnail - MH3-2500-65367-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-283.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2500-65367-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-284.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2500-65367-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-285.jpg
Date: May 26
After second year / Male
Dark chestnut crown and throat; black face; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-2560-25366-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-2176.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2560-25366-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-281.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2560-25366-Setophaga_castanea_AOU_7_52-282.jpg
Date: May 15

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Hatch year / Female Crown greenish with faint black streaks; indistinct dark streaks on back; flanks lacking chestnut; dull gray-brown primary coverts contrasting with darker greater coverts; narrow and tapered rectrices
After second year / Female Forehead and cheek mottled greenish and black; crown olive with some chestnut; pale chestnut throat; rectrices broad and rounded
Juvenile / Unknown Grayish-olive above, off-white with spotting below; buffy wing bars
Number of species: 72

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