Bird of the Month

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

General description:

The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website states that the Yellow-rumped Warbler is a large warbler. That of course, is relative, as this warbler is only five inches long, about the size of a Black-capped Chickadee. During spring and summer, this is one of our most handsome of songbirds. The male of the western subspecies, called the Audubon’s Warbler (the eastern subspecies is the Myrtle Warbler) has a black eye band, yellow chin, yellow on the top of head and sides, and, of course, a yellow rump on the top side. This yellow rump patch, however, is not always obvious, so look for the other yellow areas. The rest of the bird is a handsome mix of charcoal, gray and white.

Behavior and Habitat

Like other warblers, the Yellow-rumped Warbler is an insect predator, often sallying forth to catch insects on the wing with great agility. It is mostly a bird of the mixed coniferous forests and is usually only found at Camas during spring migration.

It prefers brushy or tree-filled habitat and is seldom found far from this cover.

Similar Species

There are several birds that will move through Camas NWR during the spring migration that are similar to the Yellow-rumped Warbler. The Magnolia Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler are likely to be the most common of these. The yellow chin and black mask of the Yellow-rumped Warbler are distinctive though.

Cool Facts

Although they are primarily insect eaters during the summer months, during fall migration and winter that changes. According to the All About Birds website, “On migration and in winter they eat great numbers of fruits, particularly bayberry and wax myrtle, which their digestive systems are uniquely suited among warblers to digest. The habit is one reason why Yellow-rumped Warblers winter so much farther north than other warbler species. Other commonly eaten fruits include juniper berries, poison ivy, poison oak, greenbrier, grapes, Virginia creeper, and dogwood. They eat wild seeds such as from beach grasses and goldenrod, and they may come to feeders, where they'll take sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and suet.”

When and where found at Camas NWR:

You will find Yellow-rumped Warblers during the spring migration in the shelterbelts and tree rows.


“Yellow-rumped Warblers are common and widespread, and populations are generally stable though they experienced a small decline from 1966 to 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 130 million with 58% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 71% in Canada, and 31% wintering in Mexico. The species rates a 6 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. Migrating Yellow-rumped Warblers, like many migrants, are frequently killed in collisions with radio towers, buildings, and other obstructions.”  

Text by Terry Thomas. Source:

Photo by Terry Thomas