Be Your Own Birder

Bird of the Week: Yellow-Throated Warbler

Some days we all need a burst of sunshine, and I got mine at a very needed time with the appearance of this week’s featured bird – the yellow-throated warbler! Whenever you see this bird, it’s sure to brighten your day.

Yellow-Throated Warbler

Yellow-Throated Warbler – Photo by Andy Wraithmell

Name: Yellow-Throated Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga dominica
Scientific Family: Parulidae (New World Warblers)

Habitat: Prefers a variety of woodlands with generally open canopies and deciduous or mixed deciduous and evergreen trees, including palm trees in its southern range. Riparian habitats are especially popular, and these birds are also likely to be seen flitting about in scrub areas or any thicket-like habitat.

Range: These are widespread warblers that stretch throughout most of the eastern and southeastern United States during the summer, but only as far north as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and southern Pennsylvania. To the west, these birds go as far as central Texas. They do stay in central and northeastern Florida and along the Atlantic coast as far north as South Carolina year-round, and are in southern Florida in the winter, as well as Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

These birds are aptly named for their bright yellow throat that seems to glow even in the dappled light or shade of the tree canopies they prefer. This brilliant color contrasts with the black face and its thick white eyebrow, white patch on the side of the throat and white arc under the eyes. The crown and back are gray, and the black wings have two white wing bars. The underparts are white with black streaking on the flanks. The thin, dagger-like bill is exceptionally long for a warbler, and these birds use it exceptionally well as they pluck insects from tree foliage and bark.

Yellow-throated warblers are nimble, active birds that rarely stay in one place for long, but fortunately, their bright throats can allow quick identification even with only a glimpse. I was fortunate to get much more than a glimpse when this bird arrived last week to become my 40th yard bird, as well as my 455th life bird. It flittered around a few branches, and came down to my pole feeding station where the painted buntings were snacking. I got great views of every field mark, saw the crazy energy these birds enjoy and witnessed the deadly precision of the sharp and precise bill as it foraged in the trees and branches of my laurel oaks.

Its arrival was timely and cheered up a stressful day, as one of our local high schools – the school where my husband teaches, in fact – had a copycat shooting threat in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. While the threat was unsubstantiated and not credible at any time, it was still a tense day as the threat was investigated, a greater police presence patrolled the school and teachers took extra precautions throughout the day. The student was identified and arrested and the threat passed, but it takes emotions and nerves a bit longer to cool. I’m glad that I can remember the day with a new, beautiful life bird rather than a much different and less enjoyable situation. Birds can bring us all so much joy in life – may it always be so, no matter what happens!

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