Lucy’s Warbler

Lucy's Warbler
Credit: Mick Thompson

Lucy’s Warblers are small, plain birds with the distinction of being the only warblers that nest in the deserts of the Southwest. Adult Lucy’s Warblers have gray heads, white eyerings, a reddish patch on the crowns of their heads and on their rumps, and whitish throats, breasts, and bellies.

Juveniles have the same coloring but without the cinnamon-colored patch on the head. 

  • Leiothlypis luciae
  • Length: 4.25 inches (11 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2 oz (6 g)
  • Wingspan: 7 inches (18 cm)


Lucy’s Warblers breed in southwestern US states before migrating to Mexico.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Lucy’s Warblers in shrubby, canyon areas in deserts, particularly around mesquite shrubs, tamarisk, acacia, and willows.  You can also find them near stream beds, and at higher elevations, in forests with ash, walnut, and oak trees. 

Lucy’s Warblers usually hop about in mesquite trees and other bushes in search of caterpillars, beetles, and other insects. 

Lucy’s Warblers’ Song:


Nests of Lucy’s Warblers are mostly in natural cavities and they are actually the only warblers (aside from the prothonotary) that build their nests this way. They have been found to use old holes vacated by woodpeckers for their own nests. 

They fill up the hollow space with debris and other material and then place their nests on top of that, just enough that they’re able to see out of them. Nests are made with grass, weeds, bark, and mesquite leaf stems. 

Females may lay three to seven eggs, but both parents take turns in the incubation, which usually takes ten to twelve days. 

Attract Lucy’s Warblers

Attract them to your backyard by providing a nest box. A study by the Tucson Audubon Society shows that Lucy’s Warblers often use a triangular nest box over any other type. 

Fun Fact:

Lucy’s Warblers sing on mesquite branches while they forage for food.