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Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)

Bird Bio

--Sarah Warnock, PRBO Education Director

© Peter LaTourrette (
Characteristics: Bright yellow head and underparts; back and wings olive yellow. Males have rusty streaks from chest to flanks. Dark eye is set off in bright yellow face. Plumage varies regionally: northwestern variants are grayer, desert forms are lighter, and eastern forms brighter.

Distribution: Winters in forests from Mexico to South America. In spring they return to breed throughout the U.S. and Canada, to the arctic treeline, preferring riparian habitats along the coast and forests inland.

Feeding: Thin, pointed bill is perfectly suited to gleaning small insects from beneath leaves.

Song: Song is a variable but usually recognizable form of "sweet-sweet, I'm-so-sweet."

Behavior: Yellow Warblers defend against cowbird egg parasitism by building a second (or third--or sixth!) nest on top of the first, covering both the cowbird's and their own eggs. Nevertheless, cowbird parasitism has caused severe declines in populations in California's Central Valley.