Plumages variable. In summer it eats insects, but during migration and winter it varies its diet with nectar from flowers and with juice that it obtains by piercing fruit. Among the dazzling cohort of spring warblers, the first Cape May Warbler to arrive is a balm: its mossy green back, tiger-striped breast, and chestnut cheek patch make it unlike any other warbler. Wood-warblers, usually called “warblers” for short by Americans, are strictly a New World family. Small warbler with sharp bill that is very slightly downcurved. In Washington, the tyrant flycatchers are the only suboscines; the remaining 27 families are oscines. Most are monogamous. The Cape May warbler (Setophaga tigrina) is a species of New World warbler. The adult male in breeding plumage is brightly and distinctively patterned, with olive back, yellow rump, strongly streaked yellow breast, bold white wing patch, and yellow neck and face with chestnut around and behind the eye. It is migratory, wintering in the West Indies. The Cape May Warbler breeds in the boreal forests of Canada as well as in northernmost New England and the upper Midwest, and winters in the West Indies and along the Caribbean coast south to Honduras. Both members of the pair feed the young. Most North American warblers do not molt into a drab fall/winter plumage; the challenge posed to those trying to identify warblers in the fall results from looking at mostly juvenile birds. Many supplement their insect diet with some seeds and fruit, primarily in fall and winter, and some also eat nectar. Although it nests as far west as southeastern Yukon and northeastern British Columbia its migration route lies almost entirely east of the Mississippi River Valley. This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with two records in Britain as of October 2013. Washington’s two accepted records were in September 1974 at Bellingham (Whatcom County) and February 2005 in Spokane (Spokane County). Dullest immature females are entirely gray with indistinct streaking below, usually with a hint of paler neck sides and greenish edges to wing feathers. Their songs are generally dry, unmusical, often complex whistles (“warbles”). Warblers that live high in the treetops generally have higher-pitched songs than those that live in the understory. It breeds in northern North America. Most are small. Idaho also has two records, in September and January. Cape May Warbler is accidental in British Columbia away from its nesting grounds. Cape May Warbler. Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. Oregon has 10 records, about evenly divided between spring and fall; three are from along the coast and the others from east of the Cascades. Warblers that nest in the understory tend to have pink legs and feet, while those that inhabit the treetops usually have black legs and feet. Many of our migratory warblers seem to lead double lives, and the Cape May is a good example. Basic Description. The English name refers to Cape May, New Jersey, where George Ordcollected the specimen later described by Alexander Wilson. Most of the North American members of this group are migratory, returning in the winter to the tropics where the family originated. Warblers eat insects gleaned from foliage or captured in the air. The female usually builds the nest and incubates four to five eggs for up to two weeks. During the breeding season, the species lives remote from most human observers, in northern spruce-fir forests, where its nesting success is tied to its chief food, the spruce budworm caterpillar. Setophaga tigrina. It summers in northern spruce woods, but winters in the Caribbean, where it is often seen in palm trees. This large group of small, brightly colored songbirds is a favorite of many birdwatchers. If you find the information on BirdWeb useful, please consider supporting Seattle Audubon. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds.