Vitelline Warbler Setophaga vitellina


Justification of Red List Category
The species has a small range, within which available habitat is declining as a result of degradation. It therefore remains vulnerable to the impact of stochastic events which could rapidly drive the species to extinction. As a result, this species is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996). The Cayman Brac subpopulation was estimated in March 2019 at 7,808 individuals (±1,522) and the Grand Cayman population was scheduled to be surveyed in March 2020 (Haakonsson 2020).

Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, the species is thought to be declining as a result of habitat degradation. Whilst subspecies crawfordi is highly abundant in the Sister Islands, the species is increasingly clumped in Grand Cayman owing largely to habitat destruction and degradation.

Distribution and population

Setophaga vitellina occurs as three subspecies. The nominate race is common on Grand Cayman, the race crawfordi is very common on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, Cayman Islands (to UK), and nelsoni was (at least formerly) common on the Swan Islands, Honduras (Monroe 1968; Curson et al. 1994; Bradley 1995). 97% of the species's range is thought to occur on the Cayman Islands (P. E. Bradley in litt. 2013). The total extent of the range is less than 270 km2, but only half of this area holds suitable habitat.


It is most common in low scrubby woodland, but is also found in arid mixed woodland, clearings, coastal scrub and thickets, and even urban areas (Curson et al. 1994; Bradley 1995).


Proposed and ongoing habitat conversion threatens populations in the Caymans whilst hurricane activity may also pose a threat to the species (Marsden 2013). The Swan Islands's population may have been impacted by the strong hurricane activity of 2008, alongside reported hunting for food (P. E. Bradley in litt. 2013) and the former use of the island for the training of Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Protected under the National Conservation Law (2013) in the Cayman Islands. Populations surveyed annually on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Endeavour to locate proposed developments in sub-optimal or unoccupied habitat. Monitor the populations of all three subspecies.


Text account compilers
Everest, J.

Bradley, P.E., Capper, D., Haakonsson, J. E., O'Brien, A. & Sharpe, C.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Setophaga vitellina. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.