Covered tail to head in striking shades of yellow flecked with rufous, this bird is by far the yellowest member of his species – meet the yellow warbler!


The yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia, formerly Dendroica petechia), is a New World warbler species. All 35 subspecies look very similar, only differing in males when in breeding plumage. Yellow warblers however are a greenish-yellow on their upper parts with a bright yellow below. The eyes and beak are dark, while the feet are a lighter or darker olive.

Females are somewhat duller, more so on the head.
Immature birds all have similarly greenish-yellow uppersides and are a duller yellow color below.

There are three main groups of Yellow Warbler divided into 35 subspecies, many of which are defined by the male’s head color in the breeding season. One of these groups is the Mangrove Yellow Warbler with 12 sub-species of its own.

These birds breed in temperate North America as far south as Central Mexico, then migrate south to Central and South America for winter. Some vagrants have been reported in Western Europe.

American yellow warblers favor brushy habitats near water, quite often foraging in shrubs fairly low to the ground. In this environment, they feed primarily feed on insects and spiders. Some more northern species will also eat some berries.

Breeding season for the American yellow warbler starts in May – June, where they build a cup-shaped nest made out of twigs and grasses. An average clutch of 3 to 6 eggs is laid, with incubation taking around 11 days. Once hatched, young usually take around 75 days before they are fully-fledged, however, it has been recorded to take as little as 45 days.

Though some populations are in decline due to habitat destruction, overuse of herbicides and pesticides as well as grazing, this species is generally common. Having such a wide range, the Yellow Warbler is not considered under any immediate threat.