Conservation status Has undoubtedly disappeared from some areas with loss of breeding habitat, but current populations probably stable.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Open woodlands, groves, especially live oaks, pines, sycamores. Breeds in a variety of southern forest types. On southern Atlantic coastal plain, occurs in old live oaks covered with Spanish moss. In south, lives in pine forest and cypress swamps. In Mississippi Valley, also breeds along streams in bottomland woods, especially of sycamores. During winter, often forages in palm groves.
A clear-voiced singer in the treetops in southern woodlands. Yellow-throated Warblers return very early in spring to the pine woods and cypress swamps, where they may be seen foraging rather deliberately along branches high in the trees. In the Midwest, they are typically found in riverside groves of sycamores. During the winter in Florida and other tropical areas, they are commonly seen creeping about in the crowns of palms, probing among the fronds with their long bills.

Feeding Behavior

Favorite method of foraging includes much creeping along on branches and leaning trunks. Probes into crevices in bark with its long bill. Also flies out to catch flying insects in mid-air. In winter in the tropics, frequently seen searching for insects by hanging upside down among leaves of palms.


Usually 4, sometimes 5. Dull grayish white, with spots of purple, red and brown. Incubation period is probably 12-13 days. Female incubates, and possibly male does also. Young: Probably both parents feed nestlings, but details (including age at which the young leave the nest) are not well known. Usually 2 broods per year.


Probably both parents feed nestlings, but details (including age at which the young leave the nest) are not well known. Usually 2 broods per year.


Mostly insects. Feeds on many insects including beetles, moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, mosquitoes, ants, scale insects, aphids, and others; also spiders.


Arrives on breeding grounds early in spring, and males defend nesting territory by singing. Nest: Placed in Spanish moss at end of branch. Where Spanish moss does not occur, nest is placed on high branch of pine, sycamore, or cypress, usually 30-60' up, sometimes 4-120' above ground. Nest is an open cup made of grass, moss, bark strips, weeds, caterpillar webs, and lined with plant down and feathers. Built by both sexes, but mostly by female.

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

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

Download Our Bird Guide App


Migrates mostly at night. A very early migrant in spring, reaching many parts of the breeding range in March. Also moves south early, departing many areas during August.

  • 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.

Learn more

Songs and Calls

A series of clear ringing notes descending in pitch and increasing in speed, rising abruptly at the end, teeew-teeew-teeew-teeew-tew-tew-twi.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.