As is the case with many bird species, the adult males are more boldly plumaged than the females. Here is a typical male in a side-on "field guide" pose.
Rarely do these active birds sit still for such a view. This portrait illustrates the dark semicircles under its eyes, that are said to give it a tired "baggy-eyed" look that is unique among New World warbler species.
One trait that makes them more appealing as photographic subjects is their habit of gleaning prey just one branch at a time. Moving from the trunk of the tree out to the smallest branches, one can often predict a bare twig up ahead where they may provide an opportunity for an unobstructed photo. Of course, it is impossible to predict what posture one might assume.
Too often, my camera clicks reveal nothing but an empty branch. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get a flight shot.
The female is more subdued, but nonetheless beautiful.
This is an immature female Magnolia Warbler. Note full eye ring and plain face that helps distinguish it from the female or immature Prairie Warbler.
In the fall, a first-year male may be indistinguishable from a female.