|Species: Common Yellowthroat
Yellowthroat is widespread and common in a wide variety of weedy,
brushy and marshy habitats but are also found in drier upland
habitats as long as there is abundant and dense undergrowth for
foraging and nesting. Yellowthroats eat primarily insects, gleaned
from low vegetation or on the ground. The familiar song of the male
varies between individuals and localities, but has a characteristic
rhythm and form. Typically, three to four repetitions of a three or
four note phrase are sung with one note sharply accented: “Wichity,
wichity, wichity, witch” or “witch-a-wee-o, witch-a-wee-o,
witch-a-wee-o.” The low harsh alarm call is also distinctive. They
are abundant breeders in North America, ranging from southern Canada
to central Mexico. Northern races are migratory, wintering in the
southern parts of the breeding range, Central America and the West
Active and inquisitive with wren-like habits they are often flushed
from low, grassy, weedy areas. To foil predators, parents drop down
into the thick of grasses, secretly approaching the well hidden
nest, deliver the food, then depart by another route. The bulky nest
made up of woven plant material with linings of fine grasses is
hidden in weeds or grasses on or near ground level and usually
contains 3-5 white eggs with markings on the larger end.
They are of small size, stocky, with a short necked crouching
posture, plain olive upper side and rounded tail. They measure 11-15
cm with wing span approx 17cm and weight approx 10 gm.
The belly is white and the undertail coverts yellow. They have no
white wing bars or tail corners.
Identified by its black mask edged toward the crown with white the
coloration vary slightly in appearance among populations
Interior western: pale and greyish with less yellow on throat
and whitish frontal band.
Pacific Variation: small and dark brown above with whitish
frontal band and extensive yellow on underside.
Southwestern Variation: relatively large bright olive
sometimes with entirely yellow underside and with yellow tinged
frontal band and yellow on throat wrapping around behind cheek.
Females lack the mask, are brownish olive above, buffy below with
some yellow especially on the throat. They have a faint buffy eye
Very non-descript with the throat often buffy and sides brownish,
males may show a trace of a black mask.
Female Common Yellowthroats resemble female Connecticut and Mourning
warblers, except they have dusky or grayish hoods and entirely
Male Common Yellowthroats perform song flight displays, especially
during the late afternoon. The male gradually ascends into the air,
calling to a height of 20 feet or higher, whereupon he utters a
number of short sputtering notes, followed by song. He then drops
back to the ground.
breeding habitats of these birds are mashes and other wet areas with
dense shrub and other low vegetation. They may also be found in
other areas with dense shrub or thick vegetation from prairie
habitat to pine forests. Frequently found near water these birds are
less common in dry areas.
Due to their size
Common Yellowthroats are vulnerable to a large number of bird-eating
predators, such as Sharp-shinned hawks, Merlins and Shrikes. They
have also been recorded as predated by largemouth bass probably
taken as the bird foraged on low reed stems.
Within a breeding season the Common Yellowthroat is monogamous
although females show no fidelity to their mates and will often try
to attract other males with their calls.
destruction of wetlands has eliminated habitat in many areas, Common
Yellowthroats are one of the most widely distributed and common
warblers in North America. Populations in the Pacific Northwest have
actually increased in recent years, and Breeding Bird Survey data
show a significant increase in Washington since 1966. Common
Yellowthroats are common hosts for parasitic Brown-headed Cowbirds,
but this does not appear to be a major factor in the Northwest.
Conservation status is listed as least Concern (LC).
Common in high numbers at Colony Farm, Common Yellowthroat
capture rate (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per
100 net hours) peaks from July through September
corresponding to juvenile dispersal. Yellowthroats migrate
south for the winter as indicated by zero capture rates from
November - March.