Yellow-rumped Warbler spends the winter in large numbers farther north than any other warbler. It also migrates earlier in spring and later in fall than other warblers. It is our most abundant and widespread warbler and, after weeks of winter, a most welcome sight. Janet Crouch says the two Yellow-rumps above were eating peanuts from a feeder that she found at the thrift store. She took the photo with a Nikon D200 camera.
Yellow-rumped Warbler has two distinct subspecies: “Myrtle” Warbler of the eastern United States and Canada’s boreal forest, and “Audubon’s” Warbler of the mountainous West. “Audubon’s” has a yellow throat. “Myrtle” has a white throat. The photo above shows “Myrtle” Warbler in breeding plumage. Alexis Hayes snapped it in May 2013 in Markham, near Toronto, Ontario. We like the picture because it shows the key field marks of a breeding warbler — black streaks on the breast and flanks, bright yellow breast patches, a clean white throat and contrasting black cheeks, and a narrow yellow crown patch.
This is “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped Warbler. Laure Wilson Neish photographed the bird in the hills east of Penticton, British Columbia. Its throat is yellow, not white, and the bird lacks the contrasting cheek patch of “Myrtle” Warbler.
The snapshot above, by Joan Wiitanen, lets us view the back and front of a “Myrtle” Warbler at the same time. Barely visible between the wingtips of the bird in the foreground is the yellow rump patch that gives the species its common name. (The patch is easier to see in our final photo.)
Of course, Yellow-rumped Warblers don’t wear their breeding plumage all year. In fall and winter, they look more like this “Myrtle” Warbler, which Larry Pace photographed in Bolivar County, north of Greenville, Mississippi. He used a Canon EOS 5d Mark 111 camera and a 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 extender.
In nonbreeding plumage, Yellow-rumps are brownish overall, not blue-gray, and both the amount of streaking on their breast and flanks and the boldness of their yellow breast patches are variable. On the warbler photographed by Larry Pace and on this one, a “Myrtle” Warbler photographed by S. Hunter Spenceley (hunter58) in his backyard in Spring Hill, Florida, notice how the white color of the throat extends onto the sides of the neck, contrasting with the ear patches. Spenceley used a Nikon D5100 camera and 70-300mm VR lens.
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