Common YellowthroatGeothlypis trichas

adult male, Interior
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female, Eastern
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
immature male, Eastern
James M. Wedge/VIREO
immature female
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
adult male, New York
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult male, Eastern
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult male, Pacific coastal
Glenn Bartley/VIREO

Family

Description

Abundant and well-known, the Common Yellowthroat has succeeded by being a nonconformist. As the only one of our warblers that will nest in open marshes, it is found in practically every reed-bed and patch of cattails from coast to coast. Although it sometimes hides in the marsh, its low rough callnote will reveal its presence. The male often perches atop a tall stalk to rap out his distinctive song, wichity-wichity-wichity.

Habitat

Swamps, marshes, wet thickets, edges. Breeds most abundantly in marshes and other very wet habitats with dense low growth. Also nests in briars, moist brushy places, tangles of rank weeds and shrubbery along streams, and overgrown fields, but is generally scarce in drier places. In migration and winter, still most common in marshes, but also occurs in any kind of brushy or wooded area.

Feeding Diet

Mostly insects. Feeds mainly on insects, including small grasshoppers, dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, beetles, grubs, cankerworms and other caterpillars, moths, flies, ants, aphids, leafhoppers, and others; also eats spiders, and a few seeds.

Feeding Behavior

Forages in marsh and among other dense low growth, searching for insects on surface of plants, sometimes hovering briefly to take insects from foliage. Occasionally makes short flights to catch insects in mid-air, and sometimes forages on ground.

Nesting

Male displays to female during courtship by flicking wings and tail, following her closely, and performing a flight display: flying up to 25-100' in the air and returning to another low perch, calling and singing. Nest: Prefers to nest low (less than 3' up) on tussocks of briars, weeds, grasses, or shrubs, and among cattails, bulrushes, sedges in marshes. Bulky open cup built by female, sometimes with a partial roof of material loosely attached to the rim. Made of weeds, grass stems, sedges, dead leaves, bark, and ferns; lined with fine grass, bark fibers, and hair. Eggs: Usually 3-5, sometimes 6. Creamy white with brown and black spots. Incubation is by female only, 12 days. The male feeds the female on the nest during incubation. Very commonly parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Fed by both parents. Leave the nest after 8-10 days. Normally 2 broods per year. Young are dependent on parents for a considerable period, longer than most other warblers.

Eggs

Usually 3-5, sometimes 6. Creamy white with brown and black spots. Incubation is by female only, 12 days. The male feeds the female on the nest during incubation. Very commonly parasitized by cowbirds. Young: Fed by both parents. Leave the nest after 8-10 days. Normally 2 broods per year. Young are dependent on parents for a considerable period, longer than most other warblers.

Young

Fed by both parents. Leave the nest after 8-10 days. Normally 2 broods per year. Young are dependent on parents for a considerable period, longer than most other warblers.

Conservation

Has undoubtedly declined in many regions with draining of marshes, and perhaps also in some areas where good habitat still exists. However, still widespread and very common.

Range

Migrates mostly at night. In many areas, migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall.

Listen

songs #1
chatter call
songs #5
songs #4
flight song #1
excited calling
songs #3
tschat calls
songs #6
songs #2
tschat and teek calls

Similar Species

adult male, Interior West, breeding

Yellow Warbler

The bright, sweet song of the Yellow Warbler is a familiar sound in streamside willows and woodland edges. This is one of our most widely distributed warblers, nesting from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, with closely related forms along tropical coastlines. Their open, cuplike nests are easy to find, and cowbirds often lay eggs in them. Yellow Warblers in some areas thwart these parasites by building a new floor over the cowbird eggs and laying a new clutch of their own.

adult male

Connecticut Warbler

For many birders, the Connecticut Warbler remains a little-known and mysterious bird. A sluggish and secretive warbler, it spends most of its time hidden low in woods and dense thickets, walking on the ground with slow and deliberate steps. It tends to migrate late in spring and early in fall, missing the peak of birding activity. Its northern nesting grounds (well to the north and west of Connecticut) are mostly in dense and impenetrable bogs.

adult male

Kentucky Warbler

During spring and summer, the fast, rolling song of the Kentucky Warbler comes from the undergrowth of eastern forests. This bird spends most of its time on the ground in moist, leafy woodlands, walking on the leaf-litter under thickets as it searches for insects. Despite its bright colors, it can be surprisingly hard to see in the shadows of the deep forest interior.

adult male

Mourning Warbler

Often elusive and hard to see well, the Mourning Warbler sings a repetitious chant from thickets and raspberry tangles in the north woods. This bird lives near the ground at all seasons, foraging in low brush and in the forest understory even during migration; it tends to be solitary, not readily joining flocks of other warblers. It got its name because the extensive black throat patch of the male suggested to pioneer naturalists that the bird was dressed in mourning.

adult male

MacGillivray's Warbler

A skulker in dense western brush, sometimes hard to see but readily located by its hurried song and its hard chip callnote. A close relative of the Mourning Warbler of the East, replacing it from the Rockies westward. Unlike the Mourning, this species is often seen in substantial numbers during migration -- especially in early fall, when practically every thicket in the Southwest seems to have one (but only one) MacGillivray's Warbler.

adult male, Pacific

Orange-crowned Warbler

One of the plainest of warblers, the orange feathers on its head almost never visible, this species is also among the most hardy. In winter, when most warblers are deep in the tropics, Orange-crowns are common in the southern states. They are usually seen singly, sometimes loosely associated with flocks of other birds. At all seasons they tend to stay fairly low, in bushes or small trees, flicking their tails frequently as they search among the foliage for insects.

adult male

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat

In far southern Texas, this warbler was once a regular resident; today it is only a very rare straggler there. Although its behavior is somewhat like that of the Common Yellowthroat, it is less of a marsh bird, often living in rank weedy or brushy fields.

Vireo

iPad Promo