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Black-throated Gray Warbler
Dendroica nigrescens
Anatomy of a Bird

A small warbler of the American West, the Black-throated Gray Warbler is found in pine and mixed oak-pine forests west of the Rocky Mountains.

Range Map My Photos Of This Bird
© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cool Facts Taxonomic Hierarchy Illustration
  • The Black-throated Gray Warbler is considered a short-distance migrant, moving from its breeding areas in the western United States only as far south as Mexico.
  • Migrating warblers follow mountain ranges and the Pacific coastline southward. Despite these landmarks, however, some get lost. A few turn up every year in the eastern states as vagrants.
  • They pretend to have a broken wing to distract intruders from finding their nests.
  • A group of warblers has many collective nouns, including a "bouquet", "confusion", "fall", and "wrench" of warblers.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Dendroica
Species: Dendroica nigrescens
  • Dendroica nigrescens halseii
  • Dendroica nigrescens nigrescens
Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley




Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Gray back.
  • White face and underparts.
  • Black mask, crown, throat (male), and striping on chest.
  • Two white wingbars.
  • Small yellow square in front of eye.
  • White spots in tail.

Immature Description

Immature male like adult female, but immature female with mostly white throat. 

Song a series of buzzy notes, full of z's, "zeedle zeedle zeedle zeet-chee."

  • Breeding Location: Forest edge, Scrub vegetation areas
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: White with purple and brown spots and blotches
  • Number of Eggs: 4 - 5
  • Incubation Days: 12
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Plant fibers, grasses, weed stalks, with lining of feathers, animal hair, mosses, and flower stems.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching:
Body Head Flight
  • Length Range: 12-13 cm (4.75-5 in)
  • Weight: 9 g (0.3 oz)
  • Size: Very Small (3 - 5 in)
  • Color Primary: White, Black, Gray
  • Underparts: White with black streaking.
  • Upperparts: Dark gray with black streaking.
  • Back Pattern: Striped or streaked
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Striped or streaked
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Brown or dark sepia.
  • Head Pattern: Eyeline, Striped, Unique pattern, Malar or malar stripe
  • Crown Color: Dark Gray
  • Forehead Color: Dark Gray
  • Nape Color: Dark Gray
  • Throat Color: Black
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Weak flight on rapidly beating wings.
  • Wingspan Range: 19-20 cm (7.5-8 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Black with white outer feathers.
  • Under Tail: Black and white
  • Leg Color: Black


Food Habitat
They are foragers, and frequently search for food among low vegetation such as insects and caterpillars. Sometimes, they are able to hover over or catch insects in-flight. Insects and caterpillars. Will eat sugar water, fruit, Nut Preferred habitats include shrubby openings in coniferous forests or mixed woods, dry scrub oak, pinyon and juniper, chaparral, and other low brushy areas.
Other Names Similar Species Conservation Status
  • Paruline grise, Fauvette grise ŕ gorge noire (French)
  • Verdín gargantinegro (Spanish)
Black-and-white Warbler has more heavily streaked breast, striped crown, and prefers to forage on trunks and main branches of trees rather than in leaves and smaller twigs. Populations stable or increasing.
Video Sources Used To Construct This Page:


  • Guzy, M. J., and P. E. Lowther. 1997. Black-throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens). In The Birds of North America, No. 319 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

All photos © 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.
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