Basileuterus rufifronsrufous-capped warbler

Geographic Range

The Rufous-capped Warbler is usually found in parts of Central and South America such as Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. It is sometimes found as far north into the United States as Arizona and Texas. Although these birds are occasionally spotted in the United States, the majority live further south. (Blake et al. 1957; Dunn and Garrett 1997)


Rufous-capped Warblers prefer tropical venues or brushy habitats. They make their homes in regions with foothills and the lowermost parts of mountains. In the United States they have only been spotted in canyon bottoms surrounded by scrubland. (Blake et al. 1957; Dunn and Garrett 1997)

Physical Description

Basileuterus rufifrons are about 12.7cm long (5 inches). They are olive-gray colored birds with white underbodies, and yellow throats and breasts. Their name is derived from their uniquely patterned head and they have rufous on their crown. Males are only slightly different than females and adult colors are very similar to those of young birds. Their posture is defined by a cocked tail at an angle ranging from 45 degrees to completely vertical. Geographically they vary by the amount of yellow on their throat and breast and even vary sometimes in leg and tail length. In South America and Central America Rufous-capped Warblers (Basileuterus rufifrons) are now known as a different species, Chestnut-capped Warbler (Basileuterus delattrii) because the yellow on their breast and throat is much more extensive. The bills are very thick, wings are short and rounded, the tail is long with separate feathers, the legs are also fairly long.(Dunn and Garrett 1997)

  • Range mass
    12 to 20 g
    0.42 to 0.70 oz
  • Average mass
    15 g
    0.53 oz


The Rufous-capped Warbler lays 3-4 eggs in a dome shaped nest. The nest has a side entrance and consists of plants and fibers placed on the side of steep banks, rocks or logs. Incubation usually lasts 12-14 days and it takes 9-12 days for chicks to fledge. Rufous-capped Warblers can have 1 or 2 broods each breeding season. (Blake et al. 1957; Dunn and Garrett 1997)


They are found by themselves or in pairs for most of the year. In courtship the male calls his female with a chick or tik tune to make a sound "chit-chit-chit-chit." Sometimes it gives a call with a higher sounding "tsi". (Dunn and Garrett 1997)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Rufous-capped Warblers search through dense brush trying to find insects and spiders, their main staple. They find food by scanning very close to the ground looking for sudden movements. (Dunn and Garrett 1997)

Conservation Status

No conservation of this species has been attempted, but scores of specimens of these birds are in museums and continue to be studied by taxonomists. Since Mexico is one of the primaray locations they are found, many observers of these birds have concentrated in this area to learn more. (Blake et al. 1957)

Other Comments

The Rufous-capped Warbler is taxonomically related to the Chestnut-capped Warbler (Basileuterus delattrii). Although they are now considered to be separate species many experts still refer to them as one in the same. Another similar species is the Golden-browed Warbler (Basileuterus belli) which has the same plumage, but is exclusive to Mexico and parts of Honduras in Central America. Although the plumage looks the same, the actual relationship to Basileuterus rufifrons is not known. (Dunn and Garrett 1997)


Robert Brown (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Blake, E., L. Griscom, A. Sprunt. 1957. The Warblers of America. New York: The Devin-Adair Company.

Dunn, J., K. Garrett. 1997. The Peterson Field Guide Series - Warblers. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Gough, G., J. Sauer, M. Iliff. 1998. "Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter" (On-line). Accessed April 09, 2001 at

Rogers, M. 2000. "Joe Morlan's California Birding Pages" (On-line). Accessed March 22, 2001 at

Rosenberg, G. 1998. "Rufous-capped Warbler Sycamore" (On-line). Accessed March 22-23, 2001 at

Texas Bird Records Committee, 1997. "Texas Bird Records Committee" (On-line). Accessed March 22, 2001 at