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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Cerulean Warbler in Canada

COSEWIC Status Report
on the
Cerulean Warbler
Dendroica cerulea
in Canada

Species Information

Name and Classification

English name:
Cerulean Warbler
Scientific name:
Dendroica cerulea Wilson
French name:
Paruline azurée


The Cerulean Warbler is a small (8-10 g) wood-warbler with relatively long wings and a short tail. The adult male is deep blue above, white below, and has a blue-black band across the throat (Figure 1). The adult female is blue-green above, whitish below (often with yellow wash) and has a yellow-white eyebrow or supercilium. Both sexes have 2 prominent white wing-bars and white tail spots. Young individuals (second-year) tend to be similarly marked to adults but duller and less boldly marked. However, there is little consensus on what plumage colour characteristics best distinguish female age classes. For complete descriptions of plumage characteristics, refer to Dunn and Garrett (1997), Pyle (1997), and Hamel (2000a).

Figure 1: Male Cerulean Warbler

Figure 1: Male Cerulean Warbler

Photo courtesy of Jason Jones.

Confusion with other species is unlikely for the adults of either sex. Immature birds in their first fall can look superficially similar to young female Blackburnian Warblers (Dendroica fusca). However, young Cerulean Warblers tend to be yellow-white below while Blackburnian Warblers tend to be buffy. In addition, Blackburnian Warblers have pale streaking on the sides of the back that is not seen in Cerulean Warblers.