MacGillivray’s Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler
Credit: Maggie.Smith

MacGillivray’s Warblers are small but chunky birds. Males have slate-gray heads, black bands across the eyes, and grayish spots that darken to black from under the bill to the throat.

Females have a light-gray head and throat, with no black markings. They both have olive-gray backs, yellow bellies, and white, crescent-shaped partial eyerings. 

  • Geothlypis tolmiei
  • Length:5.25 inches (13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4 oz (11 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.25 inches (21 cm)


MacGillivray’s Warblers breed mainly in northwestern US states and western Canada before migrating to Mexico and Central America.

Habitat And Diet

You can find MacGillivray’s Warblers in areas with dense shrubbery or vegetation. They also abound in shady thickets near streams, in logged forests with fallen trees, or in burned areas with dead trees. 

MacGillivray’s Warblers spend their time foraging on the ground, either hopping or flying low, in search of insects, like beetles and caterpillars. 

MacGillivray’s Warblers’ Song:


Nests of MacGillivray’s Warblers are concealed in thick shrubs, around one to five feet above the ground. They are placed in upright forks of scrub oaks or fir saplings. There are also some nests that are placed on the ground within tall weeds and ferns. 

They are usually constructed out of weed stems, barks, and dry grass. The female lays three to six eggs which she alone incubates for about eleven days. 

Fun Fact:

MacGillivray’s Warblers were named after Dr. W. MacGillivray who was a friend of John James Audubon. However, John Kirk Townsend had already given the species a name, “Tolmie’s Warbler”, in honor of Dr. W. T. Tolmie. Thus, the scientific name, “tolmiei” was the compromise.