• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Yellow Warbler - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Setophaga petechia)
Photo © by K & M Egressy
Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada, May 2005
Setophaga petechia

Includes: Mangrove Warbler, Golden Warbler


Photo © by bobsofpa
Magee Marsh, Ohio, USA, 10 May 2009

12·5 cm (5 in); A widespread New World warbler, with great geographical variation.

  • Length 12.5-13 cm, weight 7.4-16 g
  • Thin, pointed bill
  • Mostly yellow plumage
  • Upperparts greenish-yellow
  • Yellowish legs
  • Plain yellow face with yellow eye ring


  • Golden yellow
  • Rusty streaks on breast and flanks
  • In the tropical parts of its breeding range this bird (especially the male) may have a chestnut head or crown patch.


  • Plain yellow
  • Streaks on breast absent or barely present
  • Notice yellow tail spots on undertail (white in most species where present)

Some have pale gray wash to plumage (southwestern US)

  • Can be confused with some Common Yellowthroats; distinguish using structure, especially bill shape. (More extensive/contrasting yellow fringing to flight feathers is not necessarily a reliable character.)


Subspecies chlora
Photo © by caribemotion
Cayos Siete Hermanos, Dominican Republic, 2009

Breeds within North America from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland and south to southern California, northern Oklahoma, and northern Georgia; local in southern Florida; these subspecies which belong to the S. p. aestiva group of subspecies which winters in tropics. Additionally found in a number of largely non-migratory subspecies in the Caribbean (the S. p. petechia = "golden warbler" group), and in Mexico, Central America and northern South America (the S. p. erithachorides = "mangrove warbler" group). In total, there are thirty-four subspecies. The three groups mentioned have previously been considered separate species but are now considered one wide-ranging species.

Accidental (S. [p.] aestiva) to Greenland (2 records), Iceland (1 record), and Great Britain (3 records).


Sometimes split into two species, American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) and Mangrove Warbler (Setophaga petechia)3. Formerly placed in the genus Dendroica.


Subspecies S. p. gundlachi
Photo © by Mike Patterson
Cuba, 29 January 2007

Consists of as many as 34 subspecies1:

Male, subspecies S. p. aureola
Photo © by 5larchfield
Espanola, Galapagos, 5 December 2007
    • S. p. oraria - Mangroves of eastern Mexico (southern Tamaulipas to western Tabasco)
    • S. p. bryanti - Mangroves of Yucatán Peninsula to Belize and Costa Rica
    • S. p. erithachorides - Atlantic coast of Panama and Caribbean coast of northern Colombia
    • S. p. chrysendeta - Northeast Colombia (Guajira Peninsula) and north-western Venezuela (Zulia)
    • S. p. paraguanae - Northwest Venezuela (Paraguaná Peninsula of Falcón)
    • S. p. cienagae - North Venezuela (coastal Carabobo and Aragua) and offshore islands
    • S. p. castaneiceps - Mangroves of coastal southern Baja California (south of latitude 27°N)
    • S. p. rhizophorae - Mangroves of northwest Mexico (Sonora to Nayarit); winters to Oaxaca
    • S. p. xanthotera - Pacific coast of western Guatemala to Costa Rica
    • S. p. aequatorialis - Pearl Islands and adjacent mainland Panama
    • S. p. peruviana - Extreme southwest Colombia (Nariño) to western Ecuador and northern Peru (Lima)
  • Galapagos Yellow Warbler Setophaga p. aureola Group - Galapagos and Cocos Islands; non-migratory
  • Golden Yellow Warbler Setophaga p. petichia Group - Caribbean Islands; non-migratory
Subspecies S. p. aureola
Photo © by Robert Steffens
Galapagos Islands, August 2015


In the US, inhabits moist thickets, especially along streams and in swampy areas, gardens, overgrown pastures, and woodland edges, it is more limited to riparian habitat in the west than the east.

The Mangrove Warbler is sometimes further subdivided into Mangrove Warbler (S. p. erithachorides group) mainly in mangroves, and Golden Warbler (S. p. petechia group), which exhibits geographical variation in its habitat choice, ranging from mangroves to coastal scrub to highland moist forest depending on the island.



Mangrove Warbler, subspecies castaneiceps
Photo &copy Thomas P Brown
La Paz, Mexico, 24 March 2016

Four or five pale blue eggs, thickly spotted with brown, in a well-made cup of bark, plant fibers, and down, placed in an upright fork in a small sapling. The main species to be paratisized by cowbirds (Brown-headed Cowbird in temperate North America and Shiny Cowbird in tropical areas). If the female finds an alien egg in the nest she may cover it and lay another clutch. This strategy is not known in the Far Western part of their range.


Feeds mainly on insects and other arthropods; also some berries. Forages by gleaning, hovering and flycatching.


Song: Cheery, melodic sweet-sweet-sweet, sweeter-than-sweet; there is some geographical variation
Call: A sharp chip


Resident in the South. In the north generally short-distance to long-distance migrants. Vagrant to Britain, Ireland, Iceland, the Azores, Salvages Is and France .


Photo © by 1micalngelo
Story Mill, Montana, 20 June 2020
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Dunn, J., & Garrett, K. (1997). A Field Guide to Warblers of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 9780395783214
  3. Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.10.1. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  4. Lowther, P. E., C. Celada, N. K. Klein, C. C. Rimmer, and D. A. Spector (2020). Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.yelwar.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1