Bird GuideWood WarblersYellow-rumped Warbler

At a Glance

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.
Perching Birds, Wood Warblers
Low Concern
Arroyos and Canyons, Coasts and Shorelines, Desert and Arid Habitats, Forests and Woodlands, High Mountains, Saltwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Tundra and Boreal Habitats, Urban and Suburban Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


5-6" (13-15 cm). Both types have bright yellow rump patch (obvious as bird flies away), white spots in tail, small yellow patch at side of chest. Eastern "Myrtle Warbler" has white throat (may be dull buff in some young birds) wrapping up behind well-defined dark cheek patch. Western "Audubon's Warbler" has yellow throat, plainer face. In both forms, pattern is brightest on spring males, dullest on young females in fall and winter.
About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Blue, Brown, Gray, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A colorless buzzy warble; a sharp chek!
Call Pattern
Flat, Undulating
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Trill, Whistle


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.



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.


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.

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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Still abundant and widespread.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

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.

Explore More