Yellow Warbler

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Common Name: Yellow Warbler
Scientific Name: Dendroica petechia

Size: 5 inches (13 cm); Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 inches (16-20 cm)

Habitat: North America and northern South America; most Yellow Warblers are long distant migrants. Yellow Warblers breed across central and northern North America and spend winters in Central America and northern South America. They migrate earlier than most other warblers in both spring and fall. Like many other migrating songbirds, Yellow Warblers from eastern North America fly across the Gulf of Mexico in a single nonstop journey; some Yellow Warblers in fall take an overland route around the Gulf. There are some year round resident populations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Yellow Warblers spend the breeding season in thickets and other disturbed or regrowing habitats, particularly along streams and wetlands. They are often found among willows but also live in dwarf birch stands in the tundra, among aspen trees in the Rockies, and along the edges of fields in the East, where you may find them among alder or dogwood as well as orchards, blueberry bogs, and overgrown power-line cuts. In the West they may occur up to about 9,000 feet elevation. On their wintering grounds Yellow Warblers live in mangrove forests, dry scrub, marshes, and forests, typically in lowlands but occasionally up to 8,500 feet elevation.

Status: Not Threatened. Global population: Unknown population. Yellow Warblers are one of the most numerous warblers in North America and their populations seem stable. In the western U.S. the grazing of rangelands can degrade Yellow Warbler nesting habitat, particularly stands of willow trees along creeks. The Brown-headed Cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of many species including Yellow Warblers, and this can reduce their breeding success. Like many migratory songbirds that move at night, Yellow Warblers can be attracted to and killed at tall, lighted structures such as TV towers and tall buildings.

Diet: Insects; midges, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, wasps and others. They are often found near the tops of tall shrubs and small trees. They forage restlessly, with quick hops along small branches and twigs to glean caterpillars and other insects.

Nesting: The male’s face, throat, and under parts are bright yellow. They are streaked with chestnut below the throat. The upper parts are yellow-green to olive and the wings and tail feathers are edged in yellow. The female of species is similar to the male with the exception of the chest streaking, which is very faint. There tends to be more yellow-green to olive coloring on the upper parts as well. Immatures are similar to adult female, but paler and duller, usually without chestnut chest streaks. Yellow tail spots are reduced and often there is a faint white eye ring.

Resident forms of the Yellow Warbler can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Males in these populations can have chestnut caps or even chestnut covering the entire head.

They prefer forest edges, grassland with scattered trees, bushes, shrubs, and thickets for nesting, especially willow habitat. The female builds the nest over a period of about 4 days. First she builds a cup of grasses, bark strips, and plants such as nettles. She places plant fibers, spider webs, and plant down around the outside. The inner cup is lined with deer hair, feathers, and fibers from cottonwood, dandelion, willow, and cattail seeds. The nests of the Yellow Warbler are frequently parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The warbler often builds a new nest directly on top of the parasitized one, sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers.

The eggs are colored gray, green or blue with olive and brown marks on them and usually 3 to 6 eggs are laid. Incubation time is 11 to 12 days.

Cool Facts: Although many warblers are yellow, the Yellow Warbler is the most extensively yellow of any species and is the only warbler with yellow tail spots.

Recent DNA-based studies indicate that the Chestnut-sided Warbler is the closest relative of the Yellow Warbler. Both sing similarly phrased songs, and Yellow Warblers regularly sing songs nearly identical to those of the Chestnut-sided Warbler.

A group of yellow warblers are collectively known as a "stream", "sweetness", and "trepidation" of warblers.

Life can be dangerous for a small bird. Yellow Warblers have occasionally been found caught in the strands of an orb weaver spider’s web. The oldest-known Yellow Warbler was banded in New York in 2001 and then caught again (and re-released) in 2011, also in New York. It was at least 11 years old at the time.


Found in Songbird Remix Woodland Jewels


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