Yellow-throated warbler (Dendroica dominica)

GenusDendroica (1)
SizeLength: 13 - 14 cm (2)
Weight9 - 11 g (2)

The yellow-throated warbler is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The yellow-throated warbler (Dendroica dominica) is the most common member of the genus Dendroica in the southern United States, where it is known for being a harbinger of spring (2). It is aptly named for its brilliant plumage, with the bright yellow throat and breast, along with the white patch on the side of the neck, distinguishing this largely blue-grey bird from similar species. Other characteristics of the yellow-throated warbler include a white belly, two white bars on the wing, black streaks along the side, a long black bill and brown legs and feet (3).

The male and female yellow-throated warbler are difficult to distinguish, although the female is often duller (2). The spring adult male has the most vibrant colouration, just before it moults (4). The juvenile has an olive-brown head, and the body has brown, grey and white spots, as well as white wingbars (3).

The yellow-throated warbler is rather variable across its large range. A subspecies native to the Bahamas, Dendroica dominica flavescens, has an especially long, partially curved bill, an extensive yellow belly, and less obvious white patches (3). However, this subspecies is now considered to be a separate species, the Bahama warbler (Dendroica flavescens) (5). The yellow-throated warbler is similar to Grace’s warbler (Dendroica graciae), although this relative lacks white patches on the neck (3).

The yellow-throated warbler is a migratory species, and during the winter it is found throughout the Caribbean, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico as far as Texas, and east to the Florida peninsula and the Bahamas. It breeds in the eastern and central United States, where it is found as far north as Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania (2).

There are several subspecies of the yellow-throated warbler. The subspecies, D. d. dominica is non-migratory and resides year-round in the southern parts of this species’ breeding range (2). However, most subspecies breed along the east coast, the northeast, or west of the Appalachian Mountains (3). One subspecies, D. d. stoddard, is found in a very small area in the panhandle of Florida and southern Alabama (2). 

Occupying a great variety of forested areas, the yellow-throated warbler may be found in a range of habitats, including cypress swamps, pine and oak forests and suburban parks. During migration, this species is found in almost any habitat with tall trees (2).

With short hops along the branches, the yellow-throated warbler will forage for insects and spiders in tree bark and foliage, using its long bill to reach far into the tree (2) (4). This ability is unusual among most other warblers, which reduces competition between species (2). 

As the yellow-throated warbler nests primarily in the highest parts of the canopy, studying its breeding habits has proven difficult (2). As such, there is little information available on its reproductive behaviour. However, pairs appear to be monogamous and form a pair that remains together throughout the breeding season, until the fledglings leave the nest (2). The male attracts a mate by using a single, incessant, loud song that emanates from the tops of the canopy, sometimes 50 metres up. Outside of the breeding season, the yellow-throated warbler is found individually, often in flocks made up of many other species (2).

There are currently no known major threats to the yellow-throated warbler. In fact, this species’ range is currently expanding, possibly due to the restoration of many areas after the effects of large-scale deforestation in the nineteenth century (3).

No specific conservation action has been targeted at the yellow-throated warbler, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered adding the subspecies D. d. stoddard to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1994 (6).

Find out more about the yellow-throated warbler and its conservation:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
  2. Hall, G.A. (1996) Yellow-throated warbler (Dendroica dominica). In: Poole, A. (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
  3. Dunn, J. and Garrett, K. (1997) A Field Guide to the Warblers of North America. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
  4. Earley, C.G. (2003) Warblers of the Great Lakes Region and Eastern North America. Firefly books Ltd., New York.
  5. BirdLife International - Yellow-throated warbler (February, 2013)
  6. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (July, 2011)