Yellow WarblerSetophaga petechia

adult male, Interior West, breeding
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female, Eastern
Garth McElroy/VIREO
adult male, Pacific coastal, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult male, Eastern, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult male, Southwestern, breeding
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult male, Eastern, breeding
Garth McElroy/VIREO
adult male, Texas, breeding
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
adult male, Eastern, breeding
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler



4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Bright yellow with a light olive green tinge on back. Male has fine rusty streaks on breast. The only largely yellow warbler with yellow spots in the tail (not white).


Song a bright, musical sweet-sweet-sweet, sweeter-than-sweet. Call a sharp chip.


songs #4
songs #1
fledgling calls
songs #5
dawn song (with song type switches)
songs #3
songs #2
alarm chips
alarm chips


Moist thickets, especially along streams and in swampy areas; gardens.


Breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland and south to southern California, northern Oklahoma, and northern Georgia; local in southern Florida. Winters in tropics.


This is one of the most widespread of our warblers, showing great geographical variation. In the tropical parts of its breeding range this bird nests mainly in mangrove swamps, and there it may have a chestnut head or crown patch. In temperate North America the Yellow Warbler is one of the principal victims of the cowbird, which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. A cowbird lays only one egg per foster nest, but she may lay eggs in four or five nests in a short time, thus jeopardizing many broods. If the female Yellow Warbler discovers a cowbird parasitizing her nest, she quickly covers the alien egg with a new foundation and lays another clutch. Occasionally a nest is found with up to six layers, each containing one cowbird egg.


4 or 5 pale blue eggs, thickly spotted with brown, in a well-made cup of bark, plant fibers, and down, placed in an upright fork in a small sapling.

Similar Species

adult male, Interior

Common Yellowthroat

4 1/2-6" (11-15 cm). Olive-brown above, bright yellow on throat and upper breast. Male has bold black mask, bordered above with white.

adult male

Prothonotary Warbler

5 1/2" (14 cm). Male golden-orange with blue-gray wings; no wing bars; large white spots in tail. Female similar but duller.

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American Redstart

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Male black with bright orange patches on wings and tail; white belly. Females and young birds dull olive-brown above, white below, with yellow wing and tail patches.

adult male, Pacific

Orange-crowned Warbler

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adult male, breeding

Tennessee Warbler

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adult male (breeding)

Blue-winged Warbler

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Wilson's Warbler

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Hooded Oriole

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Orchard Oriole

7" (18 cm). Bluebird-sized. Adult male has chestnut body and black head, back, wings, and tail. Female yellow-green; immature male similar to female, but has black throat.

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American Goldfinch

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