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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

A colorless buzzy warble; a sharp chek!
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Yellow-rumped Warbler

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate Threats Near You

Climate threats facing the Yellow-rumped Warbler

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.