Yellow is one of the most common colors for bird feathers. From dull to vibrant, pale to bright and everything in-between. In this article we will look at 15 types of yellow birds found in North America. From insect-eaters to seed-eaters that regularly visit your bird feeder, there is a wide variety of yellow birds on this list.
15 Types of Yellow Birds
There are so many birds that feature yellow that we can’t list them all year. So we choose 15 of our favorites that represent many different species and groups of birds. Yellow features prominently among certain groups of birds such as flycatchers, kingbirds, warblers, orioles and tanagers.
1. American Goldfinch
Scientific name: Spinus tristis
Probably the most well-known yellow birds in the U.S., the American Goldfinch is a seed-eating bird that will take advantage of your backyard bird feeders. Look for the male’s bright yellow body with black wings and a black cap. Females are a little more subtly-colored with a yellow head and a taupe and brown body.
During the winter, they molt to a much more subdued olive-yellow color, then become bright again in spring. They can be found across the U.S. as well as southern Canada and parts of Mexico along the Gulf.
2. Western Tanager
Scientific name: Piranga ludoviciana
The Western Tanager is impossible to miss. Males sport a flame colored head and bright yellow belly, neck, and tail. Females lack the fiery head and are paler. Their diet consists of insects, flower nectar, and fruit. These tanagers migrate a long distance from their winter grounds in Central America and Mexico to their summer breeding grounds in the western United States and Canada.
Western Tanagers can be attracted to backyards and suburban areas if you plant fruiting bushes and trees, have nectar-producing flowers, and will sometimes visit nectar feeders. They are one of the brightest summer birds present in Canada. Don’t miss their calls, which are similar to that of a robin’s.
3. Prairie Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga discolor
The Prairie Warbler makes its home anywhere but the prairie. Deceptively named, this yellow songbird prefers to spend summers in young woodlands and dense, impenetrable brush in the southeastern United States. A unique population makes its home year round in Florida.
Adult Prairie Warblers have a yellow head, neck, and belly. Males are notable for their two bold black stripes by the eye. Female coloring is gentler and more muted, with gray stripes around the eye and soft dusky gray wings. Males sometimes have more than one mate, but they still help raise the young from both clutches.
4. Scott’s Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus parisorum
The bright and beautiful Scott’s Oriole can be found in the U.S. southwest and Mexico. They prefer to nest where yucca plants are abundant, as well as pinyon pine, juniper and agave. Scott’s Orioles are expert insect eaters, searching high and low to find them and even hanging in acrobatic ways to reach small crevices.
Like other orioles, they will visit backyard feeders with nectar, fruits or jelly offered. Males have a black head and wings with bright yellow body. Females are a dull yellow all over with gray wings.
In many oriole species where males are orange and black, females will appear a dull yellow in color such as the Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, and Hooded Oriole.
5. Yellow Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga petechia
The Yellow Warbler is common and widespread during the summer throughout the northern half of the U.S. and most of Canada. Both males and females are yellow all over with a round, black eye. Males sport some rusty streaks on their breast. An insect-eater by nature, they prefer caterpillars as their favorite food. Yellow warblers like edge habitats such as thickets near streams, gardens, and swamps.
It is easy to spot their nests, which are open and often parasitized by cowbirds. To adapt to these intruder eggs, Yellow Warblers will build a new floor over the intruding egg and lay more eggs of their own. Both parents cooperate to raise the chicks for a little less than two weeks.
6. Meadowlarks (Eastern & Western)
Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta (Western), Sturnella magna (Eastern)
Meadowlarks have a gray and brown speckled back, but you can’t miss their bright yellow face, throat and belly. The two distinct species, Eastern Meadowlark and Western Meadowlark, look nearly identical but are cut in half by the Mississippi River. Both species prefer to nest, forage, and live in open meadows, grasslands, pastures and empty fields. They are known for singing from a perch such as fence posts.
One way to tell them apart is their song. Western Meadowlark calls are deep and rich, with a variety of tones and sounds that sounds like a burbling stream. Eastern Meadowlark songs resemble a clear whistle without any gurgling. They have a higher pitch and have a wider variety of songs to sing.
7. Black-throated Green Warbler
Scientific name: Setophaga virens
The Black-throated Green Warbler is another evergreen-loving warbler which makes its home in coniferous forests. These insect eaters make their nests in the coniferous forests of southeastern Canada and the American Northeast. Some of their favorite foods are caterpillars, but they also eat berries in the winter.
Both males and females work together to make a nest out of grass, twigs, and weeds. It’s a well-constructed home usually placed in the nook of a tree branch next to a tree trunk. Both parents also take care of the chicks by splitting parenting duties in half.
8. Blue-winged Warbler
Scientific name: Vermivora cyanoptera
While the Blue-winged Warbler gets its name from the slight blue tinge of its mostly gray wings, this bird is also almost entirely yellow! From its yellow head down to its yellow chest, belly, and underside, the Blue-winged Warbler is one of the brightest-yellow warblers in North America.
These warblers prefer successional field habitats in the eastern Midwest, especially Ohio, Pennsylvania, and western Kentucky. Nests are shaped like a cone and woven by the female out of bark, leaves, and animal hair.
9. Western Kingbird
Scientific name: Tyrannus verticalis
If you live in the western United States, the sight of a Western Kingbird may be a common one. These flycatchers are gregarious and bold. They hunt for their insect prey by perching on fences or bushes and waiting for the best time to strike.
In body shape, they resemble robins, although their coloring is completely different. The belly and underside of the Western Kingbird’s wings is light yellow. They have a gray head and brown wings, and their upper back can sometimes have a yellowish-green wash.
Flycatchers are common across North America and there are many species. A large portion of them have similar coloring of a gray and brown head and body with bright yellow on the chest and belly. Some examples are Nutting’s Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Yucatan Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher and Brown-crested Flycatcher.
Western Kingbirds adapt very well to human infrastructure. They build nests in the nooks and crannies of telephone poles and regularly tend to their young in noisy, human-inundated urban areas.
10. Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Scientific name: Motacilla tschutschensis
Native to northern Alaska, the Eastern Yellow Wagtail is a quick walker that forages mostly on the ground. It prefers to eat insects that it picks up from shallow water, but sometimes it will jump to grab insects flying in the air. They like to live near areas of water where they can find abundant sources of insects to eat.
Eastern Yellow Wagtails are ground-nesting birds. The female builds her nest alone, and she tries to hide it under shrubbery. It’s usually woven together out of grass, lichens, and moss. It’s also lined with feathers or soft materials.
11. Evening Grosbeak
Scientific name: Coccothraustes vespertinus
You’re likely to see this loud, gregarious finch at your feeder, especially in winter. These Grosbeaks can mainly be found in Canada and far northern areas of the U.S. Attract the Evening Grosbeak by putting out sunflower seeds, its favorite meal. Don’t worry about sticking to small seeds, these birds have a very strong beak and can easily crack open tough seeds.
Note the yellow eyepatch above its eyes and beak. The rich brown head fades into a golden yellow color on its back, belly, and underside. While the males sport this bright yellow coloring, females are mostly gray with a yellow tinge.
12. Prothonotary Warbler
Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea
Another warbler that features a lot of bright yellow is the Prothonotary Warbler. Both males and females have a yellow head and body with gray wings, although males are brighter. The southeastern United States during the summer is where you can find these warblers before they head south for the winter.
Prothonotary Warblers can be found near water in their preferred habitats of wooded swamps, flooded forests, and woods near streams, lakes and rivers. Unlike most other warblers, they choose to nest in tree cavities and sometimes use old holes created by chickadees and woodpeckers.
13. Yellow-tailed Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus mesomelas
Unlike some oriole species we are used to seeing in the U.S. where the sexes appear very different, both male and female Yellow-tailed Orioles sport the same plumage. They have bright yellow bodies and a yellow “hood”, with a black face and black wings with yellow epaulets.
There are four subspecies divided by region. The I.m.mesomelas subspecies is the only one found in North America, living in southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.
14. Summer Tanager
Scientific name: Piranga rubra
While the male Summer Tanager ends up on our list of red birds, the female is completely yellow. This species is known for eating bees and wasps, as well as other insects like siders, cicadas, grasshoppers and beetles. Tanagers are also fans of fruit such as berries and bananas.
Find Summer Tanagers across the eastern United States south of the Great Lakes, and in the western United States in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
This pattern of sexual dimorphism were males are red and females are yellow is seen in many other North American tanagers including the Hepatic Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Flame-colored Tanager and Red-throated Ant-Tanager.
15. Yellow-throated Vireo
Scientific name: Vireo flavifrons
The Yellow-throated vireo is a sweet songbird that prefers shaded forest areas and areas along roadsides or streams. They love to nest in oak trees where they can blend in among the abundant leaves. Despite its bright yellow color, it is hard to spot because it’s so shy.
Male Yellow-throated vireos sing during the breeding season to defend it against other males who might try to claim it. Both the male and female build the nest, which they camouflage with moss and grass. Look for these vireos during the spring and summer in the eastern half of the United States.