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Merlin Bird ID

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    Yellow-breasted Chat

    ID Info
    Silhouette ChatsChats

    Yellow-breasted Chat

    Icteria virens
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Icteriidae
    Basic Description

    The Yellow-breasted Chat offers a cascade of song in the spring, when males deliver streams of whistles, cackles, chuckles, and gurgles with the fluidity of improvisational jazz. It’s seldom seen or heard during the rest of the year, when both males and females skulk silently in the shadows of dense thickets, gleaning insects and berries for food. The largest of our warblers, the chat is a widespread breeder in shrubby habitats across North America, venturing to Central America for the winter.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Yellow-breasted ChatRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Though widespread, Yellow-breasted Chats can be hard to find, thanks to their habit of skulking in dense thickets. You’ll have the most success looking (or listening) for them early in the breeding season, when male performs his extensive repertoire of loud whistles, rattles, catcalls, grunts, and other sounds. He often sings from an exposed perch or while doing an exaggerated display flight that ends with a thumping sound (probably made by his wings). Pay special attention to birds that make scolding sounds but remain hidden in thickets; with patience and perhaps a few pishing sounds you may coax a chat into view.

    Other Names
    • Chipe Grande (Spanish)
    • Ictérie polyglotte (French)
    • Cool Facts