Hooded warbler, plate CX

Collection Spotlight

Hooded Warbler, plate CX

John James Audubon was an expert in ornithology, but that doesn’t mean he was always right. In 1838, as Birds of America was nearing completion, he asked his engraver, Robert Havell, to combine images from different plates into a single image. He wanted to correct errors or inconsistencies that he had noticed in the original plates. These combined images are known as composite plates. The Library of Parliament’s copy of Audubon’s Birds of America has 7 of the 13 known composite plates. 

Plate CX, Hooded Warbler, was a composite plate. It was created when Havell was asked to add the bird depicted in plate IX, Selby’s Fly Catcher, onto the lower right quadrant of plate CX. The first plate CX already depicted a female and male hooded warbler. Audubon had originally created the Selby’s Fly Catcher plate when he thought he had discovered a new species. He later realized he had illustrated an immature hooded warbler.

Audubon portrayed the distinctive plumage of this small yellow songbird. The adult male (top right) displays its black hood and throat bib. The adult female (lower middle) has a green hood and no bib.

The hooded warbler is a long-distance migrant that winters in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Its breeding range covers all eastern North America and has been expanding northward for the last 40 years. Listed as “threatened” in Canada in 2003, the hooded warbler was classified as “not at risk” in 2012 because of a strong recovery in southern Ontario.

Males and females use different habitats during the winter. Males frequent mature hardwood forests. Females lay low in secluded flooded areas, such as swamps and tangled bushes, where they are especially hard to spot.


  • This is plate CX (or 110) in the collection.
  • This small portrait measures 49.5 cm high and 31 cm wide. It is printed on paper measuring 97.1 cm high and 64.5 cm wide.
  • Robert Havell engraved, printed and coloured this composite plate in 1831.
  • The plate is part of set number 22 and is a confirmed composite

Hooded Warbler, plate CX
Hooded Warbler, plate CX.
Close-up of the Hooded Warbler depicted on the plate
Close-up of the Hooded Warbler depicted on the plate.