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Species Guide

Chestnut-capped Warbler

Basileuterus delattrii

The Rufous-capped Warbler, scientifically known as Basileuterus rufifrons, is a small bird native to the New World, with a length of approximately 12.7 cm (5.0 in). Its plumage is a blend of plain-olive to olive-gray on the back, with a white underbelly and a striking bright yellow chest and throat. The bird is adorned with a distinctive rufous cap atop its head, complemented by a white eyebrow-line, a dark eye-line that fades into a rufous cheek, and a white malar stripe.

Identification Tips

To identify the Rufous-capped Warbler, look for its stout bill, round and stubby wings, and a long tail that is often held at a high angle and flicked. The facial pattern is quite distinctive, with the combination of the rufous cap, white and dark lines around the eye, and the bright yellow throat and chest.


In its tropical range, the Rufous-capped Warbler favors shrubby highlands. However, in North America, it is typically observed in oak woodland canyon bottoms, particularly near running water, where it stays low in dense vegetation.


This warbler species is found from Mexico south to Guatemala, with occasional sightings as far north as southeastern Arizona and south Texas. Birds in the southern part of the range have been classified as a separate species, the Chestnut-capped Warbler (Basileuterus delattrii).


The Rufous-capped Warbler is known for foraging through dense brush, scanning close to the ground for movement. It is not typically observed flycatching from perches.

Song & Calls

The courtship song is a rapid, accelerating series of chipping notes, reminiscent of the Rufous-crowned Sparrow. The call note is a hard "chik" or "tsik," often repeated. Males exhibit complex songs with many syllable types, showing seasonal, temporal, and annual variation in their song use.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Rufous-capped Warbler consists primarily of insects and spiders. It actively forages through dense vegetation, searching for its prey near the ground.

Conservation Status

The Rufous-capped Warbler is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

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Chestnut-capped Warblers on Birda


More New World Warblers

A photo of a Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus)

Golden-crowned Warbler

Basileuterus culicivorus
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