Rufous-capped Warblers

The Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons) is a New World warbler.

Basileuterus rufifrons

Distribution / Range

The Rufous-capped Warbler is native from Mexico south to much of Central America, rarely occurring as far north as southeastern Arizona and south Texas.

While Rufous-capped Warblers are generally birds of tropical shrubby highlands, North American sightings tend to be in oak woodland canyon bottoms, near running water, while the birds stay low in dense vegetation.

Birds in the southern part of the range may be mistaken for the similar and closely related Chestnut-capped Warbler (Basileuterus delattrii), which was formerly considered part of the same species.


Rufous-capped Warblers generally reach a length of about 12.7 cm (5 inches) in length.

They are plain-olive to olive-gray, with white underbellies, bright yellow chests and throats, and a distinctive facial pattern comprised of a rufous cap, a white eyebrow-line (or superciliary), a dark eye-line fading into a rufous cheek, and a white malar (cheek) marking.

The bill is rather stout for a warbler, the wings are round and stubby, and the tail is long, often raised at a high angle and flicked.

Song / Vocalizations

The courtship song of the Rufous-capped Warbler is a rapid, accelerating series of chipping notes (chit-chit-chit-chitchitchit) somewhat reminiscent of the Rufous-crowned Sparrow, while the call notes is a hard chik or tsik, often repeated. Like other New World warblers, this species does not actually warble.

Diet / Feeding

Rufous-capped Warblers primarily feed on insects and spiders, foraging through dense brush and scanning close to the ground for movement. They are not generally known to flycatch from perches.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Basileuterus rufifrons. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Basileuterus rufifrons (TSN 178841). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed on 27 February 2006.
  • Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, ISBN 0-679-45121-8
Photo of author

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