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Number of species: 71

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Black-throated Green Warbler - Setophaga virens

Black-throated Green Warbler has a partial preformative molt and limited prealternate molts that may include up to three inner greater coverts. Age and sex can generally be differentiated reliably by plumage.

Quick tips

  • Consider the chin, throat and upper breast - on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) males they are solid black (somewhat mottled in fall), on FCU (SY) males they are black but mottled, on DCU (ASY) females and FCF (HY) males the chin is yellowish white, with the throat and upper breast mottled black; and on DCB (AHY) females and FCF/FCU (HY/SY) females the chin, throat, and upper breast are yellowish-white, with little to no black.
  • Examine the primary coverts - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) individuals they are paler gray (fall) to brownish (spring) with no edging, contrasting with darker gray greater coverts; DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds have a more uniformly dark wing.
  • Check the shape of the outer rectrices - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds they are fairly pointed and often abraded, while on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds they are broader, fairly rounded, and more likely to remain in good condition.

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: June - August)
Brownish-green above; underparts buffy
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: June - December; SY January - April)
Primary coverts brownish, contrasting with dark gray (F) to blackish (M) greater coverts; rectrices usually narrow and somewhat pointed, with white spots typically limited to 2-3 (F) or 3-4 (M) outer feathers; underparts largely buffy-whitish (F) or whitish with some dark mottling on the breast and throat (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52305-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2296.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52305-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2298.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52305-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2297.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52199-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2305.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52199-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2307.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2530-52199-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2306.jpg
FCA - (SY: February - August)
Primary coverts brownish, contrasting with dark gray (F) to blackish (M) greater coverts; rectrices usually narrow and somewhat pointed, with white spots typically limited to 2-3 (F) or 3-4 (M) outer feathers; chin yellowish and breast with black mottling (F) or chin and breast mostly black (M)
No images available yet
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Primary coverts dark gray, contrasting lightly with blackish (F) to black (M) greater coverts; rectrices usually broad and rounded, with white spots typically on three (F) or up to five (M) outer feathers; chin and throat yellowish and some dark mottling on the breast (F) or chin and throat mostly black (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2550-58863-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2287.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-58863-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2289.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-58863-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2288.jpg
F
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DCA - (ASY: February - August)
Primary coverts dark gray, contrasting lightly with blackish (F) to black (M) greater coverts; rectrices usually broad and rounded, with white spots typically on three (F) or up to five (M) outer feathers; chin yellowish and breast with black mottling (F) or chin and breast mostly black (M)
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48679-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2284.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48679-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2286.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48679-Setophaga_virens_AOU_7_52-2285.jpg

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: June - August)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: June - August)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts and often the greater alula being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: January - May)
Similar to FCA; head and body feathers, lesser and median coverts, some to all greater coverts, and sometimes one or two tertials being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: July - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brownish and very worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: July - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts either distinctly adult (generally grayish, less worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (ASY: January - May)
Similar to DCA; head and body feathers, lesser and median coverts, some to all greater coverts, and sometimes one or two tertials being replaced
No images available yet

Applicable unknown plumage/age classes

Molt classes Age Months Key traits
M-FPF / UPU (FPF, SPB, DPB) U July - August 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-FCA / UCA (FCA, DCA) AHY February - August In alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable