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

Family

Description

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).

Voice

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

Listen

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

Habitat

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

Range

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.

Discussion

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.

Nesting

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.

adult male

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

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Olive green above with orange crown feathers, which usually remain hidden. Olive-yellow underparts with very faint breast streaking. No eye ring or wing bars.

adult male, breeding

Tennessee Warbler

5" (13 cm). In spring, male greenish above, white below, with gray cap, white line over eye, dusky line through eye. In fall, olive above, yellowish below.

adult male (breeding)

Blue-winged Warbler

4 1/2" (11 cm). Sexes similar, mostly bright yellow with blue-gray wings, 2 white wing bars, and black line through eye. Greenish back and tail.

adult male, Pacific

Wilson's Warbler

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Adult male olive green above and yellow below, with black crown patch.

adult male, Texas

Hooded Oriole

7-7 3/4" (18-20 cm). Male yellow to orange, with black wings crossed with 2 white bars, black tail, and black throat and upper breast. Bill thin and curved; tail long and graduated.

adult male

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.

adult male, breeding

American Goldfinch

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Breeding male bright yellow with a white rump, black forehead, white edges on black wings and tail, and yellow at bend of wing.

Vireo

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