Yellow-rumped Warbler

The sheer number of Yellow-rumped Warblers you will see in the country during fall is impressive. Trees and shrubs are bursting with this species of brown and yellow birds with streaks all over them. The high pitched and distinguishable chip would follow you everywhere.

About Yellow-rumped Warblers

The color might be dull during winter, but that does not mean you should not make an effort to see them. They might be working hard in their breeding ground or are in the middle of migration during spring.

During spring molting, they go through a visible transformation. The color mix on the warbler’s body ranges from bright yellow to charcoal and white colors. This striking and unique bird species deserved to be observed by your own eyes at least once. And for that reason, we are going to learn about Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Today, we will include:

  • Yellow-rumped Warblers color pattern, anatomy, and size
  • Yellow-rumped Warblers song, nesting, and life cycle
  • Yellow-rumped Warblers habitat, range and migration, and behavior

Yellow-rumped Warbler Color Pattern

The colors on Yellow-rumped Warblers are a vision. You can not help but want to photograph them. For example, the face has a black mask with a white neck in adult males. The belly and the tail’s underside are white, with black patches all over the upper body.

The wings have a shade of brown mixed with black. On the rump and one spot on the chest, there is a delicious shade of yellow. It is the myrtle Yellow-rumped Warblers. The female ones have brownish patches instead of the black ones with the same yellow splash on the side.

Adult male Audubon Yellow-rumped Warblers share the same colors mostly, but the throat is yellow, and the yellow patches on the side are more prominent along with the one on the rump.

The Goldman’s Yellow-rumped Warblers that reside in Mexico have a completely black body with yellow peaking out on the crown, throat, and sides.

Description And Identification

You can effortlessly identify Yellow-rumped Warblers. Even they might be the easiest species to spot among the warblers. The splashes of colors certainly help with their visibility. They have so many patterns over their body that your eyes would immediately be drawn to them if you see them.

That is not the only thing that helps make them identifiable, though. It is a fact that this species of warbler are always around us. The Yellow-rumped Warbler’s flexibility in foraging and preference for varied habitat means they are never far from civilization. If you look around parks a little during the right season, you will come across one.

Of course, the sound they produce is another excellent way of identifying them. Few warblers make the sweet whistling sound that one associated with Yellow-rumped Warblers. The song of this species also has interesting note changes rapidly in a short period.

Not many warblers can brag about this fast-changing of notes. The calls are also sharp and easily recognizable.

It helps that the call of Yellow-rumped Warblers is of two kinds. They are also among the few warblers that let out a call when they are mid-flight.

You can also recognize them easily if you catch them while they are trying to impress a mate. Their actions are quite specific to them.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Song

The voice of Yellow-rumped Warblers emits a sweet whistle. The male holds a tune that is slow and ends rapidly with a whistling trill or warble. They maintain an even pitch though it might slightly fall or rise as it progresses, with the ending note being a bit higher.

The song can last between 1 to 3 seconds. During this time, they sing a variation of 21 notes. There are two calls associated with that of Yellow-rumped Warblers. There is the shrill “chek” sound, which is usually the familiar sound they let out, and you can note the difference between the Audubon and myrtle one.

You can easily recognize both these calls. For bird watchers starting, this might be the sound you want to get the most used to before you begin your journey.

The calls are made by both female and male Yellow-rumped Warblers, occurring whether they are foraging or in flight. In-flight, a soft “psit” sound also comes out every once in a while.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Size

For warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers can be considered large without a doubt. They have a sturdy, full-body shape with a big head and sturdy bill. The tail is long but narrow. In size, they are almost as big as a Black-Capped Chickadee.

In length, they can be 12 cm to 14 cm, which is considered a generous-space taken by warblers. In weight, they are about 12 to 13 g. They are not plump like most warblers but have an even distribution that makes up for the weight. The wingspan is a large one, with it going as much as 19 cm to 23 cm.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Behavior

Yellow-rumped Warbler filters through the coniferous trees, hopping from one canopy to another as they partake in foraging. They stick to the surfaces of barks, carefully scrutinizing for insects hidden there.

Their analyzing skills are far sharper and tenacious than a lot of warblers. Yet, they are not hesitant about sitting on branches that are out in the open and flying out to catch an insect much in the way of Flycatchers.

During winter migration, they join flocks and change their diet to that of fruit from shrubs. These flocks can be huge groups, sometimes consisting only of Yellow-rumped Warblers. If a bird species gets too close to comfort, they maintain distance by staying in a horizontal position, spreading their tail, and then angling it upwards, so it is at a 45-degree angle to their body.

When the male Yellow-rumped Warblers are in the middle of courting a female warbler, they start by fluffing their feathers, expanding their wings and raising them a little, and even raising the feathers on their crown. Then, they start hopping from one place to another while chirping continuously.

They might also make a performance out of their flights, gliding back and forth or flying slowly even though the wingbeat is rapid. They are an agile species with excellent control over their body. Often, they might change their direction and call while at it.

What Yellow-rumped Warbler Eat

If one had to choose anything that Yellow-rumped Warblers can brag about- and this is a feat considering they have many unique features- it would probably be their flexibility when it comes to food among warblers.

Of course, for summer, their meal is always concentrated around insects. Caterpillars, larvae, ants, leaf beetles, bark beetles, etc., are included in the illustrious diet. During outbreaks, they might even feast on pests like the spruce budworm.

When they migrate, or on wintering grounds, their diet changes to a more fruit balanced one- Wax myrtle and bayberry are among them. Amongst the warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers are the only ones with a digestive system that can stomach this kind of fruit.

It is one of the reasons you will find Yellow-rumped Warblers wintering far up north, way farther than other members of their species. Poison ivy, Juniper, dogwood, Virginia creeper are also in this list of fruits.

Sometimes, they even visit feeders, from where peanut butter and raisins are their favorite pick. In Mexico, where one of their wintering grounds is, they have even been seen sucking the honeydew from aphids.

Where Yellow-rumped Warbler Live And Habitat

The breeding season is spent on coniferous forests and mixed coniferous, deciduous forests where birches, willow, or other such patches of trees are present.

In the West of the US and the Appalachian mountains’ central area, they usually stick to the place with mountains. In Northwest America and the northwest of the pacific, they are seen even at sea level, amongst the coniferous branches.

Come winter, Yellow-rumped Warblers search for open areas where the trees are scattered, and the shrubs are full of fruits. They might wander into residential areas, to the parks, or circle around pine forests.

When it is time for their tropical wintering, they wander around coffee plantations, pine-oak forests, mangroves, etc.

Range and Migration

Yellow-rumped Warblers can migrate a long or short distance, depending on where their breeding ground is. Some warblers on the west go to the pacific coast, where they strive to live the winter season. Others travel to Mexico or Central America to spend their winter.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Lifecycle

In a brood, they lay about 4 to 5 eggs. Sometimes, their produce is limited to 3. As usual, the color is a creamy white with maybe some gray or brown specks. The female is always the one doing the incubating.

The period it takes for an egg to hatch is about 12 to 13 days. It does happen, rarely, that the male Yellow-rumped Warbler will come and cover the egg.

After hatching, the nestlings are provided food by both sets of parents. After about 10 to 12 days, the youngins become capable of covering a short distance by flying. After fledging, it is mostly the male who takes care of providing food. In a year, this species usually produced two broods.


It is hard to get male Yellow-rumped Warblers to leave the female warblers’ side during the courtship period. They spend fluffing their tails and feathers on their crowns and raising their wings. Often, one can find them performing aerobic feats to please the female. They call and flutter about.

Then, it comes time for nesting. For nesting, the nest can be 4’ above ground or even 50’. The Yellow-rumped Warblers do not seem to mind flying to very high places for their nests.

Usually, they place the nests on the branches that rise horizontally from the coniferous trees, away from the trunk. Sometimes, they would choose deciduous trees. Sometimes, the nests are in the fork, where the branches and the trunk meet.

The nest is built by the female Yellow-rumped Warbler who uses twigs, roots, bark fibers to make open cup ones. The lining is done with feathers and hair so that it curves slightly and even covers the nest, hiding it from view.

Anatomy of a Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Yellow-rumped Warblers are a full-bodied species. They have long black thin legs, long bills, a shorter tail than you would expect, and large wings. They are not rounded in size and have uprightness to their posture.

The eyes are beady black with white on the underside. The head is round, but there is a clear difference between the head and the neck of the Yellow-rumped Warblers.


Final Thoughts

For this species of warblers, your travel path has to be the North woods. You can also give it a try on the west, where you will find them among the high coniferous trees. In the west, though, your journey has to be made in summer.

Usually, you will find them perched outwards on one of the tree branches. They stealthily fly out when they spot an insect. Their pursuits require a long route, aerobic performance feats in the process, and spreading their tail feathers to show off the white in their wings.

Yet, the easiest way of coming across a Yellow-rumped Warbler is actually during the migration period. In hordes, the species make their way across an entire continent, particularly going for the seaboard in the east, where they will find wax myrtles.

A piece of good news is that their conservation status does not seem to be in any kind of danger for the moment. This species is found in abundance. So, as long as you have your birding gears and know precisely where you need to visit to spot them, you should be able to lay your eyes on them at least once.

Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Yellow-rumped Warblers

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Yellow-rumped Warblers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Yellow-rumped Warbler T-shirts

If you love the Yellow-rumped Warbler you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Yellow-rumped Warbler. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders For Yellow-rumped Warbler

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Yellow-rumped Warbler

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Activities for Kids

We thought a fun perler bead pattern would be fun for kids. Please download and print with 100% scale to fit perfectly with perler bead patterns.

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