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Number of species: 80

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Palm Warbler - Setophaga palmarum

Palm Warbler is relatively difficult to age and sex, with age most reliably determined prior to completion of skull ossification in fall, and sex often identifiable only through brood patch or cloacal protuberance; some males may also be recognized by plumage.

The two races of Palm Warbler (Western Palm Warbler, S.p. palmarum, and Yellow Palm Warbler, S.p. hypochrysea) are generally separable by plumage, but guidelines for age and sex determination are applicable to both

Quick Tips:

  • Check the primary coverts - on HY/SY birds there may be a subtle molt limit between the replaced greater coverts and slightly paler and narrower primary coverts, whereas on AHY/ASY birds the wing is uniform
  • Look at the tail - on HY/SY birds the outer rectrices tend to be slightly paler and narrower, and with somewhat smaller white spots than on AHY/ASY birds, but the differences can be subtle and only extremes are helpful for ageing
  • Examine the crown - in fall, any individual with a rusty patch greater than 5 mm long is likely to be an AHY male, but AHY females and HY males can also have smaller rusty patches; in spring, the longest rusty crown patches (19-21 mm) are indicative of ASY males, but the length largely overlaps for other age/sex classes

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 / Unknown
Crown lacking chestnut feathers; primary coverts relatively narrow and faded compared to the fresher greater coverts; rectrices sometimes a bit tapered and relatively worn, with a small to medium amount of white
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16805-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2717.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16805-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2715.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16805-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2716.jpg
Date: Aug 31
After hatch year / Unknown
Crown patch usualy with a few chestnut feathers; primary coverts broad and not contrasting with greater coverts; rectrices broad and rounded with a medium to large amount of white
Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81240-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2723.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81240-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2721.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2510-81240-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2722.jpg
Date: Sep 24
Second year / Unknown
Relatively small chestnut crown patch; primary coverts relatively narrow and faded compared to the fresher greater coverts; rectrices sometimes a bit tapered and relatively worn, with a small to medium amount of white
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41137-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2708.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41137-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2706.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41137-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2707.jpg
Date: May 3
After second year / Unknown
Relatively large chestnut crown patch; primary coverts broad and not contrasting with greater coverts; rectrices broad and rounded with a medium to large amount of white
Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48638-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2714.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48638-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2712.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2520-48638-Setophaga_palmarum_AOU_7_52-2713.jpg
Date: Apr 24

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
After second year / Male Extensive chestnut crown patch; primary coverts broad and not contrasting with greater coverts; rectrices broad and rounded with a large amount of white
Juvenile / Unknown Grayish overall with dark streaking and buff wing bars
Hatch year / Male Crown patch with a few chestnut feathers; primary coverts relatively narrow and faded compared to the fresher greater coverts; rectrices sometimes a bit tapered and relatively worn, with a small to medium amount of white
Number of species: 80

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