Note: white supercilium, bright yellow throat, and white neck spot.
  • Note: white supercilium, bright yellow throat, and white neck spot.

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Yellow-throated Warbler

Dendroica dominica
Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. Most are small. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. Passerine birds are divided into two suborders, the suboscines and the oscines. Oscines are capable of more complex song, and are considered the true songbirds. In Washington, the tyrant flycatchers are the only suboscines; the remaining 27 families are oscines.
This large group of small, brightly colored songbirds is a favorite of many birdwatchers. Wood-warblers, usually called “warblers” for short by Americans, are strictly a New World family. Most of the North American members of this group are migratory, returning in the winter to the tropics where the family originated. Warblers that nest in the understory tend to have pink legs and feet, while those that inhabit the treetops usually have black legs and feet. North American males are typically brightly colored, many with patches of yellow. Most North American warblers do not molt into a drab fall/winter plumage; the challenge posed to those trying to identify warblers in the fall results from looking at mostly juvenile birds. Their songs are generally dry, unmusical, often complex whistles (“warbles”). Warblers that live high in the treetops generally have higher-pitched songs than those that live in the understory. Warblers eat insects gleaned from foliage or captured in the air. Many supplement their insect diet with some seeds and fruit, primarily in fall and winter, and some also eat nectar. Most are monogamous. The female usually builds the nest and incubates four to five eggs for up to two weeks. Both members of the pair feed the young.

    General Description

    Long-billed and slender-appearing, the Yellow-throated Warbler commonly forages by moving methodically along branches. All plumages are similar and identification is straightforward. Upperparts are blue-gray, wings blue-gray with two white wingbars. Throat and upper breast are bright yellow, separated from the upperparts by a black border. The rest of the underparts are white with black streaking on the breast sides and flanks. The head has a long white eyebrow, a black eyeline and ear patch, and a white crescent below the eye. A large white spot on the side of the neck is a key field mark.

    The Yellow-throated Warbler nests in lowland forest habitats of the Southeast, lower Midwest, and Middle Atlantic states, and winters in the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America as well as in Florida and along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. It is one of the less common vagrant “eastern” warblers in the West. British Columbia has a single record, Washington and Idaho each have two, and Oregon has five. Six of these occurred at scattered dates between 24 April and 1 November, while the other four represent long-staying winter birds at feeders: Harrison, Idaho, November 1995–January 1996; Gulf Islands, British Columbia, January 1998; Twisp (Okanogan County), Washington, December 2001–January 2002; and Seaside, Oregon, January–February 2005. Washington’s second record was in rural Asotin County in October 2003.

    Revised November 2007

    North American Range Map

    North America map legend

    Federal Endangered Species ListAudubon/American Bird Conservancy Watch ListState Endangered Species ListAudubon Washington Vulnerable Birds List

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