How to Identify a Hooded Warbler

Updated: Nov. 01, 2023

Learn what a hooded warbler looks like and where to spot one. Plus find out what hooded warblers eat and learn about their nesting habits.

What Does a Hooded Warbler Look Like?

Hooded warblerCourtesy Teresa McClung

To identify a hooded warbler, look for a small yellow bird. The male’s black hood around a yellow face helps with ID. A dark eye stands out. The bird’s wings are noticeably a darker olive color than its sunny yellow belly. Watch for white tail feathers.

Hooded warblers resemble the Wilson’s warbler, but that species has only a black cap and no black bib. The common yellowthroat has a wide black patch on its face.

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Habitat and Nesting Habits

Unlike many warblers, this species forages, and even nests, close to the ground.  You’re more likely to find one in their ideal habitat—shady undergrowth in the southeast and northeast during summer breeding season. Look for hooded warblers in the understory of rich, moist woods, and on the edges of swamps.

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What Do Hooded Warblers Eat?

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This species eats primarily plucks insects to eat from under leaves or on the ground, so you’re unlikely to see them at bird feeders. However, some migrating warblers do visit bird baths.

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Hooded warblers breed in summer across the southeastern United States. They then fly south across the Gulf of Mexico to spend winter in warm tropical areas.

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Hooded Warbler Hotspot

Any one of Indiana Dunes National Park’s hiking trails through prairie, savanna, beach and dune habitats will net plenty of good bird sightings, but the two best trails for birders are Trails 2 and 10. Take Trail 2 and enjoy a mile-long boardwalk where you can spot nesting woodland birds like the hooded warbler, veery and red-shouldered hawk.

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