Bird Database

Nashville Warbler

(Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

State of the Birds
At a Glance





Strongly Decreasing


Habitat maturation, Predation, Collisions

Conservation Actions

Manage early sucessional habitat

Nashville Warbler

(Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

The Nashville Warbler is a bird of shrubby habitats from the Great Lakes east to Maritime Canada and only shows up in its namesake city during migration. When first discovered in the early 1800s (in Nashville) it was considered rare, probably because at the time its breeding range was dominated by intact forest. As settlers opened up this forest, particularly in the Northeast, it increased accordingly, and probably expanded its range south. Now, as is the fate of most early successional species, it is on the decline again.

For an early successional species, the Nashville Warbler can use a variety of habitats. In northern New Hampshire it is most common in regenerating clear cuts and similar young forests, but also occurs in everything from high-elevation spruce-fir forests to bogs. As one moves south in the state it becomes more localized and tends toward bogs and the edges of shrubby wetlands. They build their nests on the ground under low bushes, and often near the edge of a clearing or wetland rather than deeper within it.

On the continental scale, the Nashville Warbler has a interesting disjunct range, with a separate subspecies occurring in the mountains from southern British Columbia to northern California. There are subtle color differences between the two forms, and the western one is also known for actively bobbing its tail. Because western vagrant birds of many species sometimes show up in New Hampshire in late fall, it’s worth checking Nashville Warblers for this behavior. If you see tail-bobbing get a good photo of the bird, since there’s a good chance of it being a lost bird from the Rocky Mountains rather than a lingering one from the Whites.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Nashville Warbler
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count