Ask SVT Birder

The expert birders at the SVT Birding Center welcome any and all questions about birds. Ask us about bird identification, bird behavior, places to bird, birding equipment, and anything else about birding that interests you. Send your birding questions to and the answers will be posted on this blog.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Could the Yellow Bird I saw be a Warbler?

We have had a lot of questions about warblers in the last few weeks. One visitor asked us if the small, yellowish bird she saw flitting about in the treetops could be a some kind of warbler.

Palm Warbler. Imaged captured by Craig Smith
Warblers usually arrive in Massachusetts starting in late April and they continue to arrive throughout the month of May. Our visitor might well have seen a warbler "flitting about in the treetops", since there a a few species fitting that description that could be described as "yellowish." The Palm Warbler (see above) has been sighted in Massachusetts since mid April, and it's bright yellow underparts are quite striking

Pine Warbler. Imaged captured by Craig Smith
The Pine Warbler is also an early migrant, arriving in Massachusetts in early April. The Pine Warbler's yellow throat and breast fit our visitor's description, and these birds are often seen high in the pine trees where they feed and nest.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. Imaged captured by Craig Smith
Yellow-rumped Warblers flit about high in the canopy of coniferous trees when catching the insects that make up much of their diet. One of these brown and yellow birds might have been sighted by our visitor. Many other people have spotted Yellow-rumped Warblers this month.

Everyone in the SVT Birder group agrees that our visitor could well have seen one of these three species of warbler last week. There will be many more yellow warblers arriving in the next few weeks, so our advice is to be on the alert for unfamiliar small birds flying about, and keep your ears open for bird songs that you haven't heard lately.