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Nashville Warbler - Oreothlypis ruficapilla

Nashville Warbler has a partial preformative molt that occurs primarily before migration or at a molt-migration stopover site, and a limited prealternate molt that is restricted to the head. Most Nashville Warblers can be aged and sexed by plumage, but some differences are relatively subtle, and especially to distinguish between FCF/FCA (HY/SY) males and DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) females, checking multiple criteria is advised.

Quick tips

  • Consider the face - DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) males have a distinct white eye ring contrasting with a blue-gray background, DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) female and FCF/FCA (HY/SY) males have a whitish to white eye ring on a dull gray background, and FCF/FCA (HY/SY) females have a dull buffy to whitish eye ring on an olive-gray background.
  • Examine the crown patch (often partly to entirely concealed at rest) - on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) males it is large and deep rufous; on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) males it is rufous but moderate in size, on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) females it is moderate in size but pale rufous, and on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) females it is small and pale rufous if present at all.
  • Look at the tail - on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) birds the rectrices tend to be fairly narrow, pointed, and by spring often pale brownish; on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) birds they are relatively broad and rounded at the tip, and typically darker and fresher in appearance.
  • Check the wing for a molt limit on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) individuals either between brownish primary and greenish greater coverts, or among the outer greater coverts; DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) birds have a more uniformly olive-green wing.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory (2016). Last updated by Marcel Gahbauer (Mar 2022)

The molt categories displayed below may be filtered by month.

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Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.

Individuals not in molt

FCJ - (HY: May - August)
Grayish or brownish wash above; buffy below; wing bars buffy yellow
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: June - December; SY January - April)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed; primary coverts distinctly less greenish than greater coverts; eye ring buffy to whitish (F) or whitish to white (M); concealed rusty crown patch absent to small (F) or moderate (M) in size
U
Thumbnail - MG2-2550-82017-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2597.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-82017-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2595.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-82017-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2596.jpg
FCU - (SY: February - August)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed; primary coverts often brownish, contrasting with greenish greater coverts; eye ring buffy to whitish (F) or whitish to white (M); concealed rusty crown patch absent to small (F) or moderate (M) in size
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49743-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2585.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49743-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2583.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49743-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2584.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49746-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2582.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49746-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2580.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49746-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2581.jpg
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Rectrices relatively broad and rounded; primary coverts with greenish edging, similar to greater coverts; eye ring whitish (F) or bold white (M); rusty crown patch moderate (F) or large (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41824-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2606.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41824-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2604.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41824-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2605.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2630-68545-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2603.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2630-68545-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2601.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2630-68545-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2602.jpg
DCU - (ASY: February - August)
Rectrices relatively broad and rounded; primary coverts with greenish edging, similar to greater coverts; eye ring whitish (F) or bold white (M); rusty crown patch moderate (F) or large (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48701-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2591.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48701-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2589.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48701-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2590.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49744-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2588.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49744-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2586.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2180-49744-Oreothlypis_ruficapilla_AOU_7_52-2587.jpg

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: May - July)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: June - September)
Similar to FCF; median and most to all greater coverts being replaced, and occasionally also one or two tertials and one or two central rectrices
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: January - May)
Similar to FCF; some head feathers being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: June - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brownish gray and very worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: June - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts either distinctly adult (relatively gray, less worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (ASY: January - May)
Similar to DCB; some head feathers being replaced
No images available yet

Applicable unknown plumage/age classes

Molt classes Age Months Key traits
M-FPF / UPU (FPF, SPB, DPB) U June - September Undergoing preformative or prebasic molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCF / UCU (FCF, SCB, DCB) U/AHY June - April In formative or basic plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FPA / UPA (FPA, DPA) AHY January - May Undergoing prealternate molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCU / UCU (FCU, DCU) AHY February - August In formative, basic, or alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle and plumage are not reliably distinguishable