Look and Listen for Common Yellowthroats in Spring

Updated: Mar. 22, 2022

Learn what the common yellowthroat song sounds like, what yellowthroats look like, what they eat, and where to see these warblers during migration.

common yellowthroat songCourtesy Nina Koch
Male common yellowthroat singing at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area in Wisconsin

Common Yellowthroat Song

Step into the backyard on a summer morning and you’re likely to be greeted by a chorus of chirps and trills. Robins are caroling and chickadees are singing chickadee-dee-dee-dee. Suddenly, a different tune stands out from the others. A search along the hedge behind the garden reveals a common yellowthroat, a new bird for your yard!

During migration season, it’s worth a visit to a marshy area for a quick look at common yellowthroats. Although they try to remain out of sight, they flit in and out of reeds and cattails. Listen for their snappy wichity-wichity-wichity song.

Discover the top warbler hotspots to visit in spring.

How to Identify a Common Yellowthroat

To identify these warblers, look for the male’s distinct black mask and yellow throat. The females have brownish heads and backs and do not have a mask. Check out 10 spring warblers you should know.

common yellowthroatCourtesy Janat Montag

Like other warblers, the common yellowthroat primarily eats insects, but the species has been observed drinking nectar. “The bird of paradise plants were in full bloom while we were vacationing in San Diego in early December. While photographing hummingbirds who were taking advantage of the blooms, I noticed common yellowthroats also drinking the nectar,” says Janat Montag.

Warblers can be frustratingly difficult to observe. More than 50 types of warblers flit and fly around North America. Some parts of the country are blessed with more than two dozen warbler species, while other locales have only a few. Most of the warblers you see are seasonal visitors, migrating from their breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada to wintering areas in South and Central America.

Learn how to identify yellow warblerspalm warblers, magnolia warblers and Wilson’s warblers.