Common Yellowthroat courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service. Photographer Dave Menke.
The male Common Yellowthroat is easy to identify whether you see him or hear him. The male Common Yellowthroat has a Black mask with a white line edging the top of his mask, and a bright yellow throat and chest. The female and the immature males lack the black mask and are olive with a yellow throat and chest. Both have a whitish belly, pink legs. In spite of being wood warblers, Common Yellowthroats hold their tails at a wren-like angle.
Male Common Yellowthroat at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Their call sounds like "wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty." Surprisingly easy to recognize. Although somewhat secretive, Common Yellowthroats are very curious, and will sometimes come out and look when they hear pishing or other sounds.
Up on a branch singing "wichety-wichety-wichety" for all he is worth at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary .Like all wood warblers, Common Yellowthroats move fast through the foliage, flitting from one leaf to another. They are often hard to spot, but in spring, males like to fly up and sing perched on a high branch. Fast-moving and loud in spring describes the Common Yellowthroat. The Common Yellowthroat is found in tangled undergrowth near streams, wetlands, estuaries, and other bodies of water. They can also be found in agricultural fields. They are sometimes found in the tangled undergrowth somewhat far from water. There are about 14 subspecies of Common Yellowthroat warblers that vary only slightly in coloring and song.
Common Yellowthroats eat insects, their larval forms--including caterpillars--spiders, and occasional seeds. They are gleaners that pick insects off leaves and any part of the plant they can. They also have some other moves such as the sally-hover which is gleaning while hovering near a plant, and sally-strike which is catching flying food--in this case flycatching. Common Yellowthroats occasionally drop to the ground to forage.
Common Yellowthroats range from northern Canada and Southern Alaska south through southern Mexico. They are found from coast to coast and in every U.S. state except Hawaii.
Common Yellowthroats nest as they live, in the undergrowth. The nests are often low in the undergrowth or actually on the ground. Near water, they may be attached to plants like cattails or marsh grasses.
Common Yellowthroat in Huntington Central Park on the way to Shipley Nature Center from Alice's in Breakfast in the Park.
The Common Yellowthroat, like many birds, often lays a second batch of eggs. Unlike some other birds, the female starts her second nest when the first set of nestlings have fledged, but are still relying on the parents for food. She leaves the male to take care of the first fledglings as she begins their second family.
Male Common Yellowthroat at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Since Brown-headed Cowbirds are ground-feeding birds, it is not surprising that these parasitic birds often lay their eggs in a nearby Common Yellowthroat nests. The fact that Common Yellowthroats are abundant gives the cowbirds plenty of places to lay their eggs. However, the Common Yellowthroat is no dummy and often notices the cowbird egg, either abandoning the nest or building over it to avoid incubating the intruder's egg.
Huntington Central Park--a male Common Yellowthroat in the bushes on the way to Alice's Breakfast in the Park by Lake Huntington.
The Common Yellowthroat may also push the cowbird egg out of its nest or may even abandon the nest altogether.
When there are few males in an area, a Common Yellowthroat male may take two mates.
Male Common Yellowthroat at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve . Up on the Mesa.
Common Yellowthroats are really great little birds. I always feel I have accomplished something if I get off a fairly decent shot. So when you are out birding in Orange County, California don't forget to listen for the familiar call and check for the masked yellow warbler flitting through the branches or the reeds.
Common Yellowthroat in Huntington Central Park .
External Links and Resources
Detailed article with sound, photographs, maps, and lots of information about the Common Yellowthroat.
Pictures, text, and sound bites of the Common Yellowthroat taken over by UCLA.
Article about a birder's experiences with the Common Yellowthroat.
Good article from Seattle Audubon Society.
Awesome photo of male signing.
Good article with pictures. This observatory always does a great job in describing and profiling a species.
J.V. Remsen, Jr. and Scott K. Robinson From Studies in Avian Biology No. 13:144-160, 1990. The article that defined and classified avian foraging techniques and made it easier to discuss.
Bird of the week from Cornell. Lots of good information.
(Condor: Vol. 98, No. 3, May-June, 1996) Interesting look at foraging habits of male and female Common Yellowthroats in various seasons.
Short Children's article gives good verbal picture of the Common Yellowthroat.
Gary Ritchison (Condor: Vol. 93, No. 1, January-February, 1991)
Very good videos of male and female Common Yellowthroats.
Long (47 seconds) of various Common Yellowthroat calls. Very helpful. Sound bite loops and you can listen to it for an extended amount of time over and over.
CATHERINE P. ORTEGAJAMESON F. CHACEAND BRIAN DO PEEREDITORS (Ornithological Monographs: No. 57, 2005)
Very detailed article from National Audubon.
Very nice photo of a male Common Yellowthroat feeding nestlings. Also a sound bite.
Short but descriptive article in the children's Magazine "Ranger Rick."
A short article, but a large gallery of Common Yellowthroat pictures, some extremely clear and close up.
Short and to the point. Don't forget to click on the links on the right-hand side of the page.
Variations in the Black Mask of the Common Yellowthroat
WALTER KINGSLEY TAYLOR (Journal of Field Ornithology: Vol. 47, No. 1, Winter, 1976)
Isolated instance of a female Common Yellowthroat with a black mask.
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