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Species Guide

Red-faced Warbler

Cardellina rubrifrons

The Red-faced Warbler, known scientifically as Cardellina rubrifrons, is a diminutive and vibrant member of the New World warbler family. Adults measure approximately 14 cm (5.5 inches) in length. Their plumage is a study in contrast, with light gray adorning their upper parts and a pure white underbelly. The species is named for its striking facial coloration—a vivid red that extends from the face to the neck and upper breast. This bold hue is framed by a black crown and lateral head stripes. At the nape, where the black and gray converge, one may observe a speckled gray or a stark white patch.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Red-faced Warbler, look for the characteristic red face and the black crown, which are the most distinctive features. The white rump and underside are also key identifiers. In the field, their unique behavior of flicking their tails sideways while foraging can be a helpful cue.


The Red-faced Warbler is a denizen of mountainous forests, showing a preference for coniferous and oak woodlands. They thrive at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 meters (6,600 to 9,800 feet) above sea level.


During the summer months, these warblers can be found in the northern reaches of Mexico and extend their range into the United States, specifically in Arizona and New Mexico, an area known as the Madrean sky islands. Come winter, they migrate to the southern parts of Mexico and into Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Notably, they are permanent residents in the central and southern mountains of western Mexico, within the Sierra Madre Occidental range.


The Red-faced Warbler exhibits a quirky behavior of flicking its tail sideways while it feeds, a movement that can be quite distinctive and assist birdwatchers in identifying the species in its natural habitat.


The breeding habits of the Red-faced Warbler involve constructing a modest cup-shaped nest from leaves, grass, and pine needles. This nest is artfully concealed among forest floor debris, buried in the ground, or sheltered under a shrub, log, or rock. The female lays a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs, which are white and speckled with brown. Both incubation and nestling periods average around 12 days each.

Conservation status

The Red-faced Warbler is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers that would warrant a higher level of concern.

Red-faced Warbler Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Red-faced 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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