Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Black-throated Gray Warbler - Setophaga nigrescens
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments The Western-breeding Black-throated Gray Warbler was one of the very few species that was admitted to the state's Official List without a specimen or photo; it became Official after the third published sight record was accepted by the NC BRC. Since that time, another published sight record was made. Fortunately, a photograph of the second state record (in 1986) recently surfaced, in 2013, and has been placed on the Carolina Bird Club photo Gallery, though it was not used in voting on the record nor has it been reviewed by the NC BRC for accuracy and verification of the record. Of the now eight accepted records, six are from or near the coast and two are from the Piedmont; dates range from early Sep to late Feb, with no spring records as yet. The record in the Piedmont in 2020 was documented with numerous photos. Two published reports have not been reviewed by the NC BRC, for lack of a description.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Very rare, all apparently being seen in stands of Live Oaks, mainly in suburban/residential areas. Wilmington has two accepted records, each seen by numerous birders: one from 5-22 Jan 1986* [Chat 51:77-78 link], and a female from 31 Jan - 16 Feb 1995* [Chat 60:140 link]. One was seen on Roanoke Island (Dare) on 7 Oct 2000* [Chat 65:85 link]. One was photographed and seen by numerous observers at the north end of Roanoke Island from 19 Dec 2020 - 24 Jan 2021* [Chat 85:77 link]; photos are on the Carolina Bird Club Photo Gallery. Single birds were photographed in Rockyhock (Chowan) on 16 Oct 2022* and in Wilmington on 30 Oct 2022* [Chat 87:20 link], [Chat 87:28 link]. One seen on the Wilmington CBC on 30 December 1965 [Chat 30:18 link], [Chat 30:24 link] was accepted by the CBC count editor, but details were never published, nor seen by a BRC; thus, it cannot count as an accepted state record, though the identification might have been correct.
Piedmont Accidental. One was seen in Greensboro (Guilford) on 24 Feb 1992* [Chat 57:66 link]. One was seen and photographed at Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge (Mecklenburg) on 6-7 Sep 2020* [Chat 85:38 link]; this is the first accepted report with photographs for documentation (on the Carolina Bird Club Photo Gallery). One seen at Lake Norman on 5 Jan 2003 [Chat 67:71-72 link] might have been correct, but no details were ever seen by the NC BRC.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips Though you cannot intentionally search for your own sighting, be aware that this species has a proclivity for feeding within the crown of Live Oaks close to the coast, in fall and winter.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-05-16], LeGrand[2023-04-10], LeGrand[2023-03-20]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.