The orange crowned warbler is a resident of Central America, extreme southeastern North America, coastal western North America and the outer islands. It’s most distinguishing field mark is its lack of distinguishing field marks. A light eye stripe is the only feature on the head except for the males’ patch of orange on the top of its head. The dark eye stripe gives the eye ring a split appearance.
It is more commonly seen in western than in eastern North America. It’s breeding range extends across Canada, Alaska and the western USA. In 2012, we had so many visit us, sometimes seeing up to 30 a day. Not just at our feeders and yard trees but where ever we went. It was pretty exciting.
Males arrive on the breeding grounds before the females and secure territories. Returning males often use the same territory as the previous year. Monogamous pairs form when the females arrive. The female chooses the nest site, which is usually on the ground under dense vegetation but may be in a shrub, low tree, fern, or vine. The female builds a small, open cup nest out of leaves, moss, small twigs, and bark, lined with fine grass and animal hair. The female lays up to 5 eggs and incubates them for about 12 days. Both members of the pair feed the young. The young leave the nest within 13 days after hatching. The parents continue feeding the young for a few days after they leave the nest. Pairs generally raise a single brood each year.
Orange crowned warblers often forage low in vegetation but will forage at all heights. They clamber and flit through vegetation, gleaning insects from flowers, leaves, and tips of branches. They eat mostly insects but supplement that diet with berries, suet, tree sap, and flower nectar. They pierce the base of a flower to get at the nectar and visit woodpecker and sapsucker holes for tree sap. The young eat almost entirely insect larvae.