Beak of the Week – Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)
Family: Parulidae

Spring has arrived, and so have Hooded Warblers. You may have noticed this beautiful warbler hopping about and flashing its light-edged tail feathers in shrubs near you. The males of this species are yellow, have a darker yellow back and tail, and a distinct black “hood.” The females and immature birds are less distinguishable, possessing a darker yellow crown instead of a hood. Females and immature birds have pale pink bills, rather than the black bills of the mature males. Males will move out of the shadows of the forest understory to sing a song that sounds like “weeta weeta weeta weetee a” to some.

One male and one female normally occupy and defend a territory together during breeding season. Males defend their territories from other males by spreading their wings out, tucking their heads down, and moving their heads side to side before chasing or attacking the intruder. Males will often mate with other females besides their partner. Hooded warbler nests are often parasitized by cowbirds. Parent Hooded Warblers divide the work of caring for their young, with the mother caring for half of the chicks and the father caring for the other half. The Hooded Warbler’s diet consists of insects such as moths, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, and small spiders. They will either pick the insects off of the ground and leaves or will catch them in the air. Because Hooded Warblers are insectivorous, they will use the shrubs, trees, and water sources in your yard if they happen to visit you this migration.

By Sarah Lefoley
Photos by Greg Lavaty

Visit our Bird Gallery to learn about other Texas birds!

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