Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, and has a variety of landscapes, from deserts and canyons to beautiful beaches. Throughout the state, you can find tons of wildlife, including several species of yellow birds. Some are year-round residents of the state, while others just pass through during their migration routes. Read on to learn more about the yellow birds you can find in Texas.
16 Yellow Birds in Texas
There are several yellow bird species in Texas, including the yellow warbler, lesser goldfinch, eastern meadowlark, yellow-breasted chat, common yellowthroat, couch’s kingbird, Wilson’s warbler, summer tanager, orchard oriole, American goldfinch, prothonotary warbler, western tanager, great kiskadee, orange-crowned warbler, Scott’s oriole, Audubon’s oriole and Kentucky warbler.
The birds we’ve chosen below are notable for their bright color, but they certainly aren’t the only birds in Texas that feature the color yellow. If you are trying to identify a bird you don’t see on this list, grab a field guide and look up warblers, vireos, orioles, tanagers and flycatchers. Those bird families often display yellow in their plumage.
But now let’s dive into 16 yellow birds in Texas.
1. Yellow Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga petechia
The yellow warbler is a small songbird that can be seen in Texas as they migrate. They are most abundant from early April to late May and from late July to mid-October. Some individuals may remain in the state during winter, but these instances are rare and usually confined to the Rio Grande River Valley.
Male yellow warblers have bright yellow plumage on their heads, chests, and bellies, with yellowish-green backs. The males also have rust-colored streaks on their chests. The females look similar but may be slightly less bright and do not have red streaks.
2. Lesser Goldfinch
Scientific Name: Spinus psaltria
Lesser goldfinches are small birds, measuring 3.5-4.3 inches long and weighing 0.3-0.4 ounces. Males have vibrant yellow feathers underneath with glossy black caps and black or green backs, depending on the region. In Texas, you are more likely to see the black-backed color morph. The females are dull yellow and olive with no head cap.
Lesser goldfinches are year-round residents in the southern half of Texas. They will visit backyard feeders for sunflower and nyjer. Look for them traveling in mixed flocks with other finches.
3. Eastern Meadowlark
Scientific Name: Sturnella magna
Eastern meadowlarks are tall grassland birds that like to sing while perched on fences and utility lines. They are streaked with brown and gray on the upper parts of their bodies. They have bright yellow breasts and throats with a prominent black “V” mark on their chest. Their heads are striped with brown and white, with yellow at the front of their face.
They have a long, pointed bill that helps them probe for food, such as insects, spiders, earthworms, and seeds on the ground. This vibrant yellow bird is a year-round resident of the eastern half of Texas. Their western counterpart, the western meadowlark, looks very similar and can be found in the western half of Texas.
4. Yellow-Breasted Chat
Scientific Name: Icteria virens
The yellow-breasted chat is a normally quiet bird that likes to hide, except for the breeding season when males perform a wide range of songs and sounds from exposed perches. Larger than a warbler but smaller than a robin, adult males and females look the same. They have a bright yellow breast and belly, olive-gray upper parts, and a distinctive white ring around each eye.
Yellow-breasted Chats are considered to be summer residents in Texas, coming from Central and South America to nest. They breed in the eastern and central parts of the state, primarily from late April to August. Other parts of the state may see them in spring and fall as they migrate.
5. Common Yellowthroat
Scientific Name: Geothlypis trichas
The common yellowthroat is a warbler with a round belly and long tail. They have bright yellow underparts that extend from tail to throat, with and olive-brown back and head. Adult makes also have a black mask across both eyes. Females and immature males have a similar appearance but lack the black mask.
Common yellowthroats are both migratory and resident birds in Texas. They breed throughout much of the eastern and northern parts of the state, as well as sporadic pockets throughout. Some stay year-round or spend the winter along the Gulf, while parts of central Texas may only see them as they migrate through.
6. Couch’s Kingbird
Scientific Name: Tyrannus couchii
The couch’s kingbird is a large member of the flycatcher family, and the only place to see them in the U.S. is southern Texas. Adults of both sexes have gray heads, backs, and wings with bright yellow bellies.
This species has a thick bill and a long, notched tail. They are skilled aerial hunters, often catching insects mid-flight. This stunning bird is a year-round resident in the southernmost parts of Texas. They favor woodland areas where they like to hunt from tall trees.
7. Wilson’s Warbler
Scientific Name: Cardellina pusilla
Wilson’s warblers are small, compact birds with black, beady eyes. Adult males are bright yellow with a black cap on the top if their head, while females and immature birds are more of an all-over olive yellow without a dark cap.
As they pass from south of the border up to Canada, you can see them across the state during their spring and fall migration. Some individuals reside in the southeastern tip of Texas and along the Gulf coast during the non-breeding season.
8. Summer Tanager
Scientific Name: Piranga rubra
Summer tanagers are a medium-sized songbird that was once a member of the tanager family of birds. In recent years, however, this genus has been reclassified to belong to the cardinal family, but they still keep the tanager name.
The male summer tanager is almost entirely red, while females are entirely yellow. These birds prefer to forage for insects in the treetops, so don’t look for them in desert areas where trees are very scarce. Summer tanagers visit Texas in the summer, typically from April through September. They are more common in the south and east of the state.
9. Orchard Oriole
Scientific Name: Icterus spurius
Male orchard orioles wouldn’t make this list with their dark rusty and black plumage. However before they get those rusty orange feathers, first-year males are bright yellow with gray wings and a black patch around the eyes and on the chin. Females are also yellow and look like first-year males without the black on the face.
Orchard orioles winter in Central and South America, and travel to Texas for the breeding season. Find them throughout much of Texas between April and September. As their name suggests, they like orchard and farm habitat, as well as shrubland, woodland and lakeshores.
10. American Goldfinch
Scientific Name: Carduelis tristis
Another beautiful yellow bird found in Texas is the American goldfinch. Adult males have bright yellow bodies with black wings and caps on their heads. Females and non-breeding males have a more muted yellow color with grayish-olive wings and a lighter cap.
American goldfinches are resident birds in the northeast corner of Texas, where they can be found year-round. They can be found throughout the rest of the state during the non-breeding season, typically the late fall and winter months. Note that their plumage during the winter is much less bright. They may appear pale yellow or a brownish-olive yellow.
11. Prothonotary Warbler
Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea
Prothonotary Warblers are large warblers with heads and bills to match, though their tails and legs are smaller than other warblers. The bright yellow plumage of this bird easily stands out, fading into an olive back with contrasting gray wings.
Prothonotary Warblers are known to forage near water in forests and wetlands. Some can be found spending the winter months along Texas’s gulf coast, while others migrate from Central America to spend the summer in northeastern Texas.
12. Western Tanager
Scientific name: Piranga ludoviciana
It’s hard to mistake a male western tanager. They have a bright orange face, and their bright yellow belly, chest and back stand out next to black wings. Females are usually duller in color and may appear more of an olive yellow with gray wings, and they do not have orange on their face. They are common in the woods, especially among conifer forests, eating mostly insects which they carefully pluck from foliage at the tops of trees.
While some may stay the summer in western Texas forests, for the most part you’ll only see them stop over during spring and fall migration.
13. Great Kiskadee
Scientific name: Pitangus sulphuratus
The Great Kiskadee is a large member of the flycatcher family. Males and females have the same plumage. They sport a black and white head, warm brown wings, back and tail, and a bright yellow chest and belly. Great Kiskadees can fish like kingfishers, but also eat insects, lizards, snakes, small mice and enjoy fruit from trees and cacti. They are fairly loud and not particularly shy of people, so you have a good chance of spotting them in their range.
South Texas is the main spot they can be found in the U.S., and they remain year-round. However they have a wide range throughout coastal Mexico, Central America and most of South America.
14. Orange-crowned Warbler
Scientific name: Leiothlypis celata
The little orange-crowned warbler ranges from pale yellow to greenish yellow, although its not as bright as many birds on this list. They do have an orange spot on top of their head, as their name suggests, but you won’t often see it. This remains hidden until the bird becomes excited or annoyed, and then it may flash it.
They forage for food in dense shrubs and remain fairly inconspicuous. Find them across Texas during the non-breeding months.
15. Scott’s Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus parisorum
An oriole of the southwestern U.S., these yellow beauties can be seen in parts of western and central Texas during the spring and summer. This oriole relies especially on yucca for its food and nest fibers. Attract orioles with fruits and jelly.
Males have a black head, chest and back, with a brilliant yellow belly, shoulders, and tail. They can be heard singing practically around the clock. When the male sings, the female will often answer, even if she’s sitting on her nest. Females are an olive-yellow all over with grayish back and wings.
16. Audubon’s Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus graduacauda
The Audubon’s oriole is native to Mexico and parts of southern Texas. Find them around and south of San Antonio. Both males and females have the same plumage, which is unusual for orioles. Their body is lemon yellow, while their head, wings and tail is black. Both sexes also sing songs, especially during the mating season.
These insect eating orioles live in the open woodlands common to these areas. Despite their bright color, they blend in easily with thick foliage.
17. Kentucky Warbler
Scientific name: Geothlypis formosa
The Kentucky warbler isn’t just found in it’s name state. Look for them along the Gulf coast as they migrate through in spring and fall, and in the northeast of the state they stop and breed in the summer. This yellow warbler prefers to search for insects on the forest floor, and live on the ground, separating it from other warbler species in the area. Female Kentucky warblers even build their nests on the ground.
Females and males look similar, with bright yellow underparts, olive upper parts, a black ‘coma’ under each eye and a bright yellow stripe above the eye.