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Species Guide
A photo of a Black-cheeked Warbler (Basileuterus melanogenys)
Black-cheeked Warbler

Black-cheeked Warbler

Basileuterus melanogenys

The Black-cheeked Warbler, known scientifically as Basileuterus melanogenys, is a small bird with a distinctive appearance. It measures approximately 13 to 13.5 centimeters in length and weighs around 13 grams. This warbler is adorned with a rufous crown and long white supercilia, contrasting sharply with its black cheeks. The upperparts are a dull olive, while the breast is olive-grey, and the belly transitions to a yellow-white.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Black-cheeked Warbler, look for the striking combination of the rufous crown and the black cheeks, which stand out against the white supercilia. Both sexes appear similar, but juveniles can be distinguished by their browner upperparts, a duller supercilium, a greyer breast, and two cinnamon wingbars.


This warbler favors the Talamancan montane forests, thriving in oak forests with a dense bamboo understory. It is typically found at altitudes ranging from 2500 meters up to the timberline, though it may occasionally be spotted as low as 1600 meters.


Endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama, the Black-cheeked Warbler has a somewhat restricted range but is locally common within its preferred habitat.


The Black-cheeked Warbler is a resident breeding bird, constructing a bulky domed nest with a side entrance on a sloping bank or in a gully. The female lays two white eggs, which she incubates.

Song & Calls

The call of this warbler is a hard "tsit," while the male's song is a distinctive, lisping and spluttered series of notes, transcribed as "tsi tsi wee tsi tsi wu tsi wee."


Breeding pairs build their nests close to the ground, taking advantage of the sloping terrain or gullies to provide a secure location for their offspring.

Similar Species

While the Black-cheeked Warbler is quite distinctive, it could potentially be confused with other warblers in the region. However, its unique facial markings and coloration set it apart from its congeners.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Black-cheeked Warbler consists primarily of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. It forages low in the undergrowth, adeptly picking off its prey.

Conservation status

Currently, the Black-cheeked Warbler is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers.

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