Skip to main content

Bird Bio: The Yellow Warbler

Melissa Molzahn, KBO Education Specialist

The Yellow Warbler, in comparison to other North American wood-warblers, is brilliant yellow. It is often heard singing a beautiful spring song tucked away among willows.

Yellow Warblers breed from Alaska and Canada, south to Baja California, and east throughout central Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina. The winter months are spent from southern California and Arizona to Middle and South America, as well as Amazonian Brazil and Peru. Spring migrants tend to arrive in Oregon during late April to early May. They take off early for their winter homes mid-August to early September. During the breeding season, they are very dependent on riparian habitat for nesting. They are found among willows, cottonwoods and native shrubs. They prefer diversity in plant species, especially within the shrub layer.

Due to their reliance on riparian habitat throughout Oregon and California, the Yellow Warbler is vulnerable to habitat destruction. Livestock grazing in riparian areas can lead to decreased plant diversity and destruction of willows and shrubs. Therefore, conservation plans call for grazing to be actively managed or eliminated. Yellow Warblers are Brown-headed Cowbird hosts. When cowbirds lay their eggs in a Yellow Warbler’s nest the cowbird chick often out competes the warbler chicks for the parents attention.

The Yellow Warbler is a Partners in Flight conservation focal species in California and Oregon and benefits from the protection and restoration of riparian habitats.

This article can be found in KBO’s 2008 spring newsletter. 


Birds of Oregon, first edition 2003, edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; The Birds of North America, first edition 2005, edited by Dr. Alan Poole and Dr. Frank Gil

Yellow Warbler male singing; Photo James Livaudais