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Number of species: 72

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Chestnut-sided Warbler - Setophaga pensylvanica

While older male Chestnut-sided Warblers are usually readily identifiable, other age/sex classes tend to overlap more in appearance, and multiple characteristics should be assessed; for some intermediate individuals, age and especially sex may not be reliably determined

Quick Tips:

  • Check the wing for a molt limit on HY/SY individuals between brownish-gray primary coverts with little or no edging and darker, fresher greater coverts; AHY/ASY birds have a more uniformly dark wing
  • Look at the tail - outer rectrices are relatively narrow and tapered to a point on HY/SY birds, but broad and rounded on AHY/ASY birds
  • Examine the flanks - in fall, AHY males have distinct and extensive chestnut markings, while AHY females and some HY males have limited chestnut; in spring the chestnut is relatively narrow and limited on females, but broader and more longer on males
  • In spring, look at the lores and moustache - on males they are black, while on females they are largely grayish

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
Yellow-green crown; limited chestnut on the sides; indistinct dark streaks on back; dull primary coverts contrasting with darker greater coverts; relatively narrow and tapered rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48065-Dendroica_pensylvanica-167.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48065-Dendroica_pensylvanica-168.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48065-Dendroica_pensylvanica-169.jpg

Thumbnail - MR3-272080216-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1499.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080216-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1498.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080216-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1501.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080216-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1500.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080216-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1502.jpg
Hatch year / Female
Greenish crown; chestnut on sides usually absent; minimal streaking on the back; dull primary coverts contrasting with darker greater coverts; relatively narrow and tapered rectrices
Thumbnail - LL4-2480-62868-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1329.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-2480-62868-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1330.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-2480-62868-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1331.jpg
After hatch year / Male
Bold yellow-green crown; distinct chestnut markings from malar down to near legs; distinct blackish streaks on the back; blackish primary coverts not contrasting with greater coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48195-Dendroica_pensylvanica-164.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48195-Dendroica_pensylvanica-165.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48195-Dendroica_pensylvanica-166.jpg

Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1444.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1443.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1445.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1446.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1448.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1447.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1450.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-272080171-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-1449.jpg
Second year / Male
Yellow crown; blackish lores and moustache; broad and extensive chestnut side markings extending to near or beyond the legs; brownish primary coverts contrasting with the darker greater coverts; relatively narrow and tapered rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48025-Dendroica_pensylvanica-350.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48025-Dendroica_pensylvanica-351.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2520-48025-Dendroica_pensylvanica-352.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_284-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-713.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_285-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-714.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_286-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-715.jpg
Second year / Female
Greenish crown; grayish lores; and moustache; limited chestnut markings; brownish primary coverts contrasting with the darker greater coverts; relatively narrow and tapered rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_282-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-711.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_283-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-712.jpg
After second year / Male
Yellow crown; solid black lores and moustache; broad and extensive chestnut side markings extending past the legs; blackish primary coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_280-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-709.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_281-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-710.jpg
After second year / Female
Greenish-yellow crown; dark gray lores and moustache; moderate chestnut markings usually not extending as far as the legs; blackish primary coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1510-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-3983.jpg Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1510-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-3984.jpg Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1510-Setophaga_pensylvanica_AOU_7_52-3985.jpg

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Olive-brown above and whitish below, with buff wing bars
After hatch year / Female Yellow-green crown; limited chestnut on the sides; indistinct dark streaks on back; blackish primary coverts not contrasting with greater coverts; broad and rounded rectrices
Number of species: 72

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