Common Yellowthroat

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Common Yellowthroat
Photo by: 
Ruth Simmons

Each spring, I look for a little masked bandit skulking in my shrubby vegetation. Sometimes I can hear their “which it ta, which it ta, which it ta” song, which lets me know that they are in the area. Though its name doesn’t say so, the Common Yel­lowthroat is a warbler, the small colorful group of birds that spend most of their time in the tops of the trees. This warbler, however, is kind to our necks and moves much closer to the ground. Males are olive colored on the back with a bright yellow throat and breast with gray flanks and belly. His black mask has a white border, making him one of the easier warblers to identify. The female, on the other hand, is olive on the back with a pale olive breast and belly and no mask. She lives up to her name with a bright yellow throat. Yel­lowthroats are also true to the Common part of their name; nesting in Mexico, all of the lower 48 states, and across most of Canada. Dense, marshy areas are favored for nesting, with nests usually less than four feet off the ground. Both parents care for the young and in warmer areas have two broods each summer. While you won’t see them at your feeders, leaving a shrubby area near a water feature could get you some great looks at this little masked bandit.

By Ruth Simmons

Summer 2016