Yellow-rumped Warbler; Courtesy of Tom Greer  © 2005 Tom Greer

Transient Warblers (Parulidae Family)

In addition to the resident Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata), five warbler species migrate through Quail Ridge in the spring and fall, and one species visits in the winter. The Orange-crowned is the only warbler confirmed to breed at Quail Ridge, and although a few Orange-crowned’s stay throughout the year, the majority withdraw and/or migrate south in the fall and winter. They frequent brush and the outer regions of low trees in chaparral, deciduous woodland, and riparian woodland. In addition to insects, Orange-crowned’s may eat fruit, nectar, and tree sap from sapsucker wells. Those that breed at Quail Ridge construct cup nests of fine materials, concealed on or near the ground. In contrast, the uncommon Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) comes to Quail Ridge exclusively in the winter. Found in brushy habitat and open woods, these opportunistic birds often join in mixed-species flocks.

The remaining warbler species use the Reserve as a stopping point on their way to and from breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and Canada, and wintering grounds in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The Hermit Warbler; Photo courtesy of Stephen Dowlan © 2005 Stephen Dowlanpeak diversity and numbers are found in the last week of April and first two weeks of May. These migrants critically rely on locations like Quail Ridge for food and rest in the spring and fall. All are strongly insectivorous, typically surface gleaning and hawking, though many also eat berries. The Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla) favors brushy areas and lower regions of oak trees. The Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) similarly is found in low trees but also at woodland edges, particularly in riparian areas. Hermit (D. occidentalis), Townsend’s (D. townsendi), and Black-throated Gray (D. nigrescens) Warblers are birds of the canopy, actively foraging on small insects. Lastly, Wilson’s Warblers (Wilsonia pusilla) prefer dense brush near water. For many of these species, males commonly forage higher than females to gain prominence to advertise themselves, while females reduce their visibility.

Species and Guild Accounts

Birds Page

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Photo Credits: Title, California Quail (Joyce Gross), Yellow-rumped warbler (Tom Greer), Hermit warbler (Stephen Dowlan). For more pictures see:

This page last updated: April 5, 2007  

Contact: Dr. Virginia Boucher
John Muir Institute of the Environment
109 The Barn, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 530-752-6949; email:

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