Yellow Warbler

Dendroica petechia

Although many warblers are yellow, the Yellow Warbler is the most extensively yellow of any species. This widespread species of willows and mangroves is the only warbler with yellow tail spots.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • In addition to the migratory form of the Yellow Warbler that breeds in North America, several other resident forms 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Thin pointed bill.
  • Yellow overall.
  • Chestnut streaks on chest of male.

Male Description

Face, throat, and underparts bright yellow. Streaked with chestnut below throat. Upperparts yellow-green to olive. Wings edged in yellow. Yellow tail spots.

Female Description

Underparts bright yellow. Back and most of face greenish-yellow. Indistinct yellow eyering. Narrow and indistinct chestnut streaks on breast, sides, and flanks. Yellow tail spots.

Immature Description

Immatures similar to adult female, but paler and duller, usually without chestnut chest streaks. Yellow tail spots reduced.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Dendroica
Species: Dendroica petechia
  • Dendroica petechia aequatorialis
  • Dendroica petechia aestiva
  • Dendroica petechia aithocorys
  • Dendroica petechia albicollis
  • Dendroica petechia alsiosa
  • Dendroica petechia amnicola
  • Dendroica petechia armouri
  • Dendroica petechia aureola
  • Dendroica petechia aurifrons
  • Dendroica petechia babad
  • Dendroica petechia banksi
  • Dendroica petechia bartholemica
  • Dendroica petechia brewsteri
  • Dendroica petechia bryanti
  • Dendroica petechia castaneiceps
  • Dendroica petechia chlora
  • Dendroica petechia chrysendeta
  • Dendroica petechia cienagae
  • Dendroica petechia dugesi
  • Dendroica petechia eoa
  • Dendroica petechia erithachorides
  • Dendroica petechia flaviceps
  • Dendroica petechia flavida
  • Dendroica petechia gundlachi
Variable. Most common song is a rapid musical "sweet-sweet-sweet-I'm-so-sweet."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 13 cm (5 in)
  • Weight: 9 g (0.3 oz)
  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Yellow, Olive
  • Underparts: Yellow with red streaking.
  • Upperparts: Yellow to olive-yellow.
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Striped or streaked
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Plain
  • Crown Color: Yellow
  • Forehead Color: Yellow
  • Nape Color: Yellow
  • Throat Color: Yellow
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Weak flight.
  • Wingspan Range: 20 cm (7.75 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Olive-yellow
  • Under Tail: Yellow
  • Leg Color: Pink-yellow
  • Breeding Location: Forest edge, Grassland with scattered trees, Bushes, shrubs, and thickets
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Widespread
  • Egg Color: Gray, green or blue with olive and brown marks
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 6
  • Incubation Days: 11 - 12
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Strongly built from plant material, grasses, moss, lichen, and fur, bound wth spider's silk and cocoon material.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless with sparse down. Chicks fledge in 9-12 days.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Fauvette jaune, Paruline jaune (French)
  • Chipe amarillo, Verdín amarillo (Spanish)
  • Palm Warbler is only other warbler with red streaks on chest, and it has a rusty cap and a dark eyestripe.
  • Orange-crowned Warbler has dark eyeline and pale eye crescents, no yellow on edge of wing feathers, and no tail spots.
  • Female and immature Yellow Warblers easily confused with female and immature Hooded and Wilson's warblers; all have plain yellow face and entirely yellow underparts. Neither has yellow edging to wing feathers or yellow tail spots.
  • Yellow Warbler may sing songs that are nearly identical to those of Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Conservation Status

Widespread and abundant; no clear continentwide trend in populations. Vulnerable in western areas where riparian habitats are affected by intense grazing and development.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

  • Breeds in wet, deciduous thickets, especially in willows.
  • Also in shrubby areas and old fields.
  • In southern Florida and farther south, found in mangroves.
  • Lowther, P. E., C. Celada, N. K. Klein, C. C. Rimner, and D. A. Spector. 1999. Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia). In The Birds of North America, No. 454 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Insects and other arthropods, occasionally fruit.
Captures insects by gleaning, flycatching, and hovering.

Adult Male

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Male

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

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