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Number of species: 79

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Cape May Warbler - Setophaga tigrina

Cape May Warbler has a partial preformative molt, and partial prealternate molts that are limited to body feathers. Although there can be a fair amount of variation among individuals, age and sex can usually be determined by plumage.

Quick tips

  • Check the wing - on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) individuals there is usually a contrast between brownish primary coverts and the darker and fresher greater coverts, whereas the colour and wear is more uniform on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) birds, with yellowish edging on both the primary and greater coverts.
  • In alternate plumage, examine the cheeks - DCA (ASY) males have a bold chestnut patch, while on FCA (SY) males it is present but less prominent, and on females of all ages they are gray.
  • Look at the tail - on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) birds the rectrices are typically relatively narrow and pointed, while on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) birds they tend to be broader and more rounded; FCF/FCA (HY/SY) females tend to have smaller white patches, but other age/sex classes show considerable overlap.

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 above and grayish with dark streaking below
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: June - December; SY January - April)
Brownish primary coverts contrasting with darker grayish greater coverts; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed; underparts generally grayish and lightly streaked (F) or with a yellowish wash and dark streaks (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00002-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2358.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00002-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2356.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00002-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2357.jpg
FCA - (SY: February - August)
Brownish primary coverts contrasting with darker grayish greater coverts; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed; underparts generally grayish and lightly streaked (F) or yellow with dark streaks (M); crown grayish (F) or dark brown (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41161-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2370.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41161-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2368.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41161-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2369.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16531-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2364.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16531-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2362.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16531-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2363.jpg
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Primary coverts similar to great coverts in color and wear; rectrices somewhat broad and rounded; underparts generally grayish and lightly streaked (F) or yellowish and moderately to heavily streaked (M)
No images available yet
DCA - (ASY: February - August)
Primary coverts similar to great coverts in color and wear; rectrices somewhat broad and rounded; underparts generally grayish and lightly streaked (F) or yellowish and moderately to heavily streaked (M); crown grayish (F) or blackish (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41162-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2373.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41162-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2371.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-41162-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2372.jpg

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: June - July)
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
F
Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76975-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2355.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76975-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2353.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76975-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2354.jpg
FPA - (SY: January - May)
Similar to FCF; some head and body 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 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 dark, less worn) or intermediate
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43524-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2349.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43524-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2347.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43524-Setophaga_tigrina_AOU_7_52-2348.jpg
DPA - (ASY: January - May)
Similar to DCB; some head and body 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 - 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

Number of species: 79

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