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.

Interesting Information

  • 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.Length Range: 13 cm (5 in)

  • Weight: 9 g (0.3 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

Sex Differences

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.


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


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


  • Breeds in wet, deciduous thickets, especially in willows.

  • Also in shrubby areas and old fields.

  • In southern Florida and farther south, found in mangroves.


Captures insects by gleaning, flycatching, and hovering.


Insects and other arthropods, occasionally fruit.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Dendroica
Species: Dendroica petechia
    Subspecies: 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

Similar Species

  • 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.

Bird Sound

Variable. Most common song is a rapid musical "sweet-sweet-sweet-I'm-so-sweet."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution