The Yellow-rumped Warbler has a large breeding range. During the spring and summer in the western side of its range, it can be found as far north as central Alaska and as far south as Central America. Its breeding range stretches across Canada, but in the eastern United states, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler is only seen as far south as the Great Lakes states.
The winter range extends from the southern states to the West Indies and Central America. The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a facultative migrant (it moves with food availability and weather) and so has a drastically changing winter range depending on yearly conditions (Stokes and Stokes 1996; Granlund 1999).
A highly adaptable bird, the Yellow-rumped Warbler can be found in a variety of habitats including coniferous forest, mixed woodlands, deciduous forest, pine plantation, bogs, forest edges, and openings. In the winter it is often found in brushy thickets of bayberry and wax myrtle (Stokes and Stokes 1996; Granlund 1999).
Birds of either sex in all plumages have a yellow rump and a yellow patch on their side just in front of each wing. During the breeding season, male and female also have a yellow crown patch and white tail patches. There are two subspecies (previously considered separate species), the north and eastern Myrtle Warbler and the western Audubon's Warbler. The breeding male Myrtle Warbler has white eyebrows, a white throat, and white sides of neck while the Audubon's Warbler has no eyebrows and a yellow throat. Females and non-breeding males show the same basic pattern but are duller in color than their breeding counterparts (Stokes and Stokes 1996; Dunn 1999; Georgia Wildlife Website 2000).
The Yellow-rumped Warbler breeds in monogamous pairs. A neat cup made of twigs, bark strips, rootlets, and lined with grasses, hair, and feathers serves as a nest for the Yellow-rumped Warbler. The nest is placed on a horizontal branch near the trunk of a conifer tree 5 to 50 feet in height (the average height of the nest is 20 feet). The outside diameter of the nest is 7.6 to 8.9 cm.
Four to five cream eggs with brown spots are laid, and incubation lasts 12 to 13 days. The chicks are altricial and fledge 12-14 days after hatching. Two broods may be raised in a season (Stokes and Stokes 1996; Granlund 1999; Georgia Wildlife Website 2000).
- Key Reproductive Features
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Average lifespan
- 6.9 years
- Average lifespan
The Yellow-rumped Warbler forages by searching among the vegetation for food and catching prey in flight. During migration, they hawk for insects by darting from branches to catch their flying prey. They travel in small flocks and appear to be in constant motion, often flitting from branch to branch. When observed quietly, they often approach relatively close to humans (Hines 1998).
- Key Behaviors
Communication and Perception
The Yellow-Rumped Warbler feeds mainly on insects in the summer and on berries and fruit in the winter. Yellow-rumped Warblers are capable of assimilating 80% of wax-coated berries such as bayberries. They have developed unique gastrointestinal traits to allow them to subsist on this unusual food source.
The Yellow-Rumped Warbler comes to bird feeders for fruit and suet (Gill 1995; Stokes and Stokes 1996; Granlund 1999).
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
As an insect eater, the Yellow-rumped Warbler may benefit humans by eating potentially harmful (or painful) insects.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
No known negative impacts on humans.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is abundant throughout its range and is probably the most abundant of all warbler species. The Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count in the last 25 years have shown that populations of the Yellow-rumped Warbler are rising at around 2% (or less) per year (Stokes and Stokes 1996).
As mentioned earlier, Yellow-rumped Warblers were previously divided into two species, Audubon's Warbler in the west, and the Myrtle Warbler in the east. Their phylogenetic differences are thought to have evolved during the Wisconsin glacier which divided eastern and western populations.
The divergent populations probably came into contact again about 7500 years ago and now interbreed where their ranges meet, in the passes of the Canadian Rockies. Because of their interbreeding in this area, the hybrid zone extends 150 km in either direction and will probably continue to grow as time passes. It has been calculated that it will take more than 6 million years for these taxa to completely fuse (Barrowclough 1980; Gill 1995; Zink and McKitrick 1995).
Althea Dotzour (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Terry Root (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
uses sound to communicate
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.
uses sight to communicate
Barrowclough, G. 1980. Genetic and phenotypic differentiation in a Wood Warbler (Genus Dendroica) hybrid zone. The Auk, 97: 655-668.
Dunn, J. 1999. Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
Georgia Wildlife Website, June 1, 2000. "Warblers: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dendroica coronata" (On-line). Accessed September 15, 2000 at http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/~GAWildlife/Birds/Passeriformes/dcoronata.html.
Gill, F. 1995. Ornithology. Ney York: W.H. Freemean and Company.
Granlund, Jim, 1999. "White Point Bird Observatory; Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (Dendroica coronata)" (On-line). Accessed September 24, 2000 at http://www.wpbo.org/featured/myrtle/myrtle.htm.
Hines, Bob, 1998. "Fifty Birds of Town and City: Myrtle Warbler" (On-line). Accessed September 15, 2000 at http://www.interbrief.com/fiftybirds/myrtle.htm.
Stokes, D., L. Stokes. 1996. Stokes Field Guide to Birds (Eastern Region). New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Zink, R., M. McKitrick. 1995. The debate over species concepts and its implications for ornithology. Auk, 112: 701-719.