Photo: Laure W. Neish/Vireo

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

Flashing its trademark yellow rump patch as it flies away, calling check for confirmation, this is one of our best-known warblers. While most of its relatives migrate to the tropics in fall, the Yellow-rump, able to live on berries, commonly remains as far north as New England and Seattle; it is the main winter warbler in North America. Included in this species are two different-looking forms, the eastern "Myrtle" Warbler and western "Audubon's" Warbler.
Conservation status Still abundant and widespread.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Conifer forests. In winter, varied; open woods, brush, thickets, gardens, even beaches. In the North, breeds in coniferous and mixed forests, preferring more open stands and edges in pine, fir, spruce, aspen; also spruce-tamarack bogs. In West, breeds up to 12,000' in mountain conifer forests. In winter, common in many lowland habitats, especially coastal bayberry thickets in East and streamside woods in West.
Flashing its trademark yellow rump patch as it flies away, calling check for confirmation, this is one of our best-known warblers. While most of its relatives migrate to the tropics in fall, the Yellow-rump, able to live on berries, commonly remains as far north as New England and Seattle; it is the main winter warbler in North America. Included in this species are two different-looking forms, the eastern "Myrtle" Warbler and western "Audubon's" Warbler.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, Myrtle, breeding
  • adult female, Audubon's, breeding
  • immature female (1st winter), Myrtle (1st year)
  • adult male, Audubon's, breeding
  • adult female, Myrtle
  • adult male, Audubon's, breeding
  • immature male (1st winter), Myrtle(1st fall)
  • immature male( (1st winter) Audubon's (1st year)
Feeding Behavior

Versatile in its feeding. Searches among twigs and leaves, and will hover while taking insects from foliage. Often flies out to catch flying insects. Will forage on ground, and will cling to tree trunks and branches. Males tend to forage higher than females during the breeding season. In winter, usually forages in flocks.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes only 3. Creamy white with brown and gray marks. Incubated usually by female, 12-13 days. Occasionally the male will cover the eggs. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest after 10-12 days, can fly short distances 2-3 days later. First brood probably fed mostly by male after fledging. Normally 2 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest after 10-12 days, can fly short distances 2-3 days later. First brood probably fed mostly by male after fledging. Normally 2 broods per year.

Diet

Insects and berries. Feeds on caterpillars, wasps, grasshoppers, gnats, aphids, beetles, and many other insects; also spiders. Feeds in winter on berries of bayberry, juniper, wax myrtle, poison ivy, and others. Can winter farther north than most warblers because it can digest the wax in berry coatings.


Nesting

During courtship, male accompanies female everywhere, fluffs his side feathers, raises his wings and his colorful crown feathers, calls and flutters. Nest: Placed 4-50' above ground, usually on horizontal branch away from trunk of conifer, sometimes in deciduous tree; or sometimes in fork where branch meets trunk. Nest (built by female) is open cup made of bark fibers, weeds, twigs, roots; lined with hair and feathers in such a way as to curve over and partly cover the eggs.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Migration

Migrates earlier in spring and later in fall than other warblers. The "Myrtle" form, mostly eastern, also winters commonly in streamside trees near coast in Pacific states. "Audubon's" is a very rare stray in the East.

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Migration

Migrates earlier in spring and later in fall than other warblers. The "Myrtle" form, mostly eastern, also winters commonly in streamside trees near coast in Pacific states. "Audubon's" is a very rare stray in the East.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A colorless buzzy warble; a sharp chek!
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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