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Common Yellowthroat


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A broad black mask lends a touch of highwayman’s mystique to the male Common Yellowthroat. Look for these furtive, yellow-and-olive warblers skulking through tangled vegetation, often at the edges of marshes and wetlands. Females lack the mask and are much browner, though they usually show a hint of warm yellow at the throat. Yellowthroats are vocal birds, and both their witchety-witchety-witchety songs and distinctive call notes help reveal the presence of this, one of our most numerous warblers.


The male sings a distinctive witchety-witchety-witchety song, about 2 seconds long, to defend the territory and attract females. They give these songs very frequently during summer, averaging as high as 125 songs per hour and sometimes reaching 300 songs per hour.


  • Song, calls
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Both males and females give a strong chuck when potential predators approach. Males give an aggressive chatter call when other males are singing, and females give a fast series of chipping notes when they’re ready to mate.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Your yard could attract Common Yellowthroats if it is fairly large (yellowthroat territories are sometimes as small as 0.5 acre) and features dense or tangled, low-growing grasses and other vegetation.

Find This Bird

Common Yellowthroats are easy to find during spring and summer in much of North America. Just visit open habitats such as marshes, wetland edges, and brushy fields. Listen for the male’s wichety-wichety-wichety song, which they sing frequently during summer, and is easy to recognize. Even their call notes are distinctive, so listen for their husky, low chuck coming from the undergrowth. When you hear one calling, look low in bushes and trees for a quick, small bird, olive above and yellow below. If you don’t spot one after a while, try making a “pishing” sound; yellowthroats are inquisitive birds and often pop into the open to see who’s making the sound.

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Tips for Spring Warbler Watching: Story in Living Bird magazine.

eBird Occurrence Maps, Common Yellowthroat



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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