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Number of species: 71

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Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata

Orange-crowned Warbler has a partial preformative molt that generally occurs before migration, and an absent to limited prealternate molt of feathers on the head and chin that is often difficult to detect. Plumage differences by age and sex are quite subtle in Orange-crowned Warbler; multiple criteria should be in agreement to determine age and sex, and some intermediates are better left as unknown; skulling to confirm age in fall is particularly important.

Especially in areas where two or more of the four recognized subspecies overlap during migration, variability among them can complicate ageing and sexing.

Quick tips

  • Look at the tail - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds the rectrices tend to be fairly narrow and pointed, and on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds they are relatively broad and rounded at the tip - but note that some individuals are intermediate in appearance and should be aged only in combination with other characteristics.
  • Examine the concealed crown patch - it may be minimal or absent on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds, though beware that on some FCU (SY) males it can be quite large, while on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds it is always at least moderately large (9 mm or greater in length).
  • Look at the primary coverts - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds they tend to be narrow with little or no edging and generally somewhat duller or paler than the greater coverts; on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds they are relatively broad and may have olive edging and are uniform in appearance with the greater coverts - but as with the rectrices, there is considerable variability in shape and colour and intermediates are common in which the primary coverts are not a distinct indicator of age.
  • Consider wing chord to verify sex, as short or long extremes can be useful (measurements cited from Pyle 1997): V.c. celata:  female only (54-56 mm), overlap (57-62 mm), male only (63-65 mm) V.c. lutescens:  female only (51-54 mm), overlap (55-59 mm), male only (60-62 mm) V.c. orestera:  female only (55-57 mm), overlap (58-64 mm), male only (65-66 mm) V.c. sordida:  female only (54-56 mm), overlap (57-60 mm), male only (61-63 mm).

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: April - August)
Grayish or brownish wash above; buffy below; wing bars buffy yellow
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: May - December; SY January - April)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed and lacking any white; primary coverts fairly narrow and brownish, contrasting with greener greater coverts; concealed orange crown patch absent to small (F) or small to moderate (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41966-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2663.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41966-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2661.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41966-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2662.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35579-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2672.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35579-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2670.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35579-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2671.jpg
FCU - (SY: February - August)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed and lacking any white; primary coverts fairly narrow and brownish, contrasting with greener greater coverts; concealed orange crown patch absent to small (F) or small to moderate (M)
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16026-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2660.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16026-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2658.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16026-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2659.jpg
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Rectrices somewhat broad and rounded, occasionally with some white on outer feathers; primary coverts greenish and sometimes with olive eding, similar to the greater coverts; crown patch absent to moderate (F) to large (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81238-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2681.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81238-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2679.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81238-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2680.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79445-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2678.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79445-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2676.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2690-79445-Oreothlypis_celata_AOU_7_52-2677.jpg
DCU - (ASY: February - August)
Rectrices somewhat broad and rounded, occasionally with some white on outer feathers; primary coverts greenish and sometimes with olive eding, similar to the greater coverts; crown patch absent to moderate (F) to large (M)
No images available yet

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: April - July)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: May - September)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts being replaced, and occasionally also one to all 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