Brightly-colored warbler with a contrasting face pattern with dark cheeks and crown surrounded by bright yellow. Also shows olive back, bold white wingbars, and yellow on the breast. Intensity of color varies with age and sex; adult males are brightest, with black throat, while immatures are more washed out with a pale yellowish throat. Breeds in mature coniferous forests in northwestern North America. Winters from the Pacific coast of the U.S. to Costa Rica, with large numbers especially in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. Usually stays in the canopy. Sometimes gathers in large mixed flocks with other warblers and small songbirds, especially on the wintering grounds. Compare with plainer-faced Hermit Warbler, and beware that hybrids occur. Also similar to Black-throated Green Warbler, which overlaps in range most often on the wintering grounds; note Townsend’s darker cheeks and more extensive yellow on breast.
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