New York Natural Heritage Program
Kentucky Warbler
Geothlypis formosa (Wilson, 1811)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Kentucky Warblers can be identified by the broad, black sideburns extending from the eye and bold, yellow "spectacles." The crown is black. Underparts are yellow to olive. They have a short tail and long legs. Sexes are similar. However, the black sideburns and crowns are usually duller in females. Nests are cup-shaped and made of grasses, various plant fibers, and rootlets. Typically, nest are built on or near the ground at the base of a tree or shrub and are usually hidden by vegetation (NatureServe 2005). The average egg size is 18.6 x 14.3 mm. Eggs are white or creamy white and are blotched or dotted with grays and browns with concentrations at one end. The shell is smooth and slightly glossy. The Kentucky Warbler song is a series of rolling musical notes: "churry churry churry" with each "churry" repeated about six times. The song is similar to the Carolina Wren, but is lower in pitch and less musical. The call is a low, sharp "chuck." Other calls are used infrequently.
Kentucky Warbler Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The best time to observe or hear Kentucky Warblers is May through June while the males are defending territories. Kentucky Warblers are secretive birds that are more often heard than seen. They are rarely found before mid-May and after mid-September.
Present Breeding
The time of year you would expect to find Kentucky Warbler present (blue shading) and breeding (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
    Adult male Common Yellowthroats have a broad black mask that is bordered by gray or white above. In comparison, Kentucky Warblers have black on the face and neck ("sideburns") and a yellow eyestripe.