How to Identify a Hooded Warbler

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.

Look for a chestnut sided warbler during spring migration.

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.

Check out the top warbler hotspots to visit in spring, and learn how to attract warblers to your yard.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.