Common Yellowthroat

Geothlypis trichas

A skulking masked warbler of wet thickets, the Common Yellowthroat is far more frequently heard than seen. Its "wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty" can be heard from the Yukon to Newfoundland, and from southern Florida to southern Mexico.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • Nine species of yellowthroats currently are recognized, most living in Mexico, all with black masks and yellow throats. Even more recognizable forms exist, with 12 subspecies of the Common Yellowthroat described north of Mexico. Just what the boundaries are between species and subspecies in this taxonomic complex remains to be completely worked out.
  • As a small bird, the Common Yellowthroat is vulnerable to a large number of bird-eating predators, such as Merlins and Loggerhead Shrikes. Yellowthroats occasionally are captured and eaten by unusual predators too. Observations have been made of Chuck-will's-widow eating yellowthroats on migration, and one adult Common Yellowthroat was taken from the stomach of a largemouth bass.
  • The Common Yellowthroat is apparently monogamous within a breeding season and only infrequently will males be seen with two mates in their territory. Females, however, show no fidelity to their mates and often attract other males with their calls. The true genetic mating system of this species remains to be worked out.
  • One subspecies of Common Yellowthroat is resident in the Rio Grande river delta in Texas. It holds territories throughout the winter, and not only keeps other individuals out of its territory, but it also keeps migrant yellowthroats of other races completely out of its habitat.


Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Plain olive green back, wings, and tail.
  • Yellow throat and upper chest.
  • Male has distinctive black mask.

Male Description

Back, wings and tail plain olive. Chin, throat, and upper chest bright yellow. Belly whitish. Dusky flanks. Bright yellow undertail coverts. Broad black mask extending from side of neck through the auricular area and from the eye to the forehead. Whitish to grayish line above black mask separating it from the olive crown.

Female Description

Female similar to male, but face olive and underparts paler. Indistinct eyering. May occasionally have faint black mask.

Immature Description

Immature resembles adult female. First year male with faint black mask, becoming fully adult-like by spring.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Geothlypis
Species: Geothlypis trichas
  • Geothlypis trichas arizela
  • Geothlypis trichas campicola
  • Geothlypis trichas chapalensis
  • Geothlypis trichas chryseola
  • Geothlypis trichas ignota
  • Geothlypis trichas insperata
  • Geothlypis trichas melanops
  • Geothlypis trichas modesta
  • Geothlypis trichas occidentalis
  • Geothlypis trichas riparia
  • Geothlypis trichas scirpicola
  • Geothlypis trichas sinuosa
  • Geothlypis trichas trichas
  • Geothlypis trichas typhicola
Song a musical "wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty." Call note a distinctive sharp "tchat."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 13 cm (5 in)
  • Weight: 11 g (0.4 oz)
  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Yellow, Olive
  • Underparts: Yellow
  • Upperparts: Olive-yellow
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Brown to blackish brown.
  • Head Pattern: Plain, Masked
  • Crown Color: Olive-yellow with blue-gray stripe between crown and nape.
  • Forehead Color: Black
  • Nape Color: Olive-yellow
  • Throat Color: Yellow
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Weak flight on rapidly beating wings.
  • Wingspan Range: 20 cm (8 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Olive-yellow
  • Under Tail: Olive-yellow
  • Leg Color: Pink
  • Breeding Location: Forest edge, Open landscapes, Bushes, shrubs, and thickets, Marshes, freshwater, Swamps
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester, Some polygamous
  • Breeding Population: Common to abundant
  • Egg Color: White
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 6
  • Incubation Days: 12
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Dried grasses, leaves, stems, bark chips, and sedges.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless and with a few wisps of down.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Paruline masquée (French)
  • Mascarita común, Reinita gargan tiamarilla, Caretica, Cigüita enmascarada, Reinita pica tierra (Spanish)
  • Female resembles female Connecticut and Mourning warblers, except they have dusky or grayish hoods and entirely yellow underparts.
  • Connecticut Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler

Conservation Status

Not threatened or endangered, but is decreasing in many areas. Local nonmigratory populations in some areas face potential extinction from habitat loss and disturbance.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

Common in thick vegetation from wetlands to prairies to pine forests. Frequently near water.
  • Guzy, M. J., and G. Ritchison. 1999. Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). In The Birds of North America, No. 448 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Insects and spiders.
Gleans insects from foliage.

Adult Male

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Male

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Adult Female



All photos © 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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