Bird Database

Common Yellowthroat

(Geothlypis trichas)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Predation, Collisions

Conservation Actions

Maintain a bird-friendly yard

Common Yellowthroat

(Geothlypis trichas)

The male Common Yellowthroat is immediately recognizable on two counts. First is his black mask, which is often described as making this species look like a little bandit. Young males also have this field mark but it is far less bold, thus providing a way to age male birds in the fall. Females are dull brown above and a more washed out yellow below, which can result in them being confused with other warblers, especially in the fall. The other easy way to identify a yellowthroat is by its song, a distinctive “witchety witchety witchety.”

Unlike most warblers, yellowthroats are birds of marshes, shrubby wetlands, and other low dense habitats. They often co-occur with Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers but rarely with those of forest, although they often show up in forest clearings if they are large enough. The nest is built on the ground or slightly above it, usually supported by dense clumps of vegetation such as grasses of reeds. In water habitats they may be on hummocks above the water level. Like most warblers they lay 3-5 eggs and incubate them for around 12 days. After another 12 days the young leave the nest but are still fed by the parents for 2-3 weeks. In many areas they will attempt a second brood if the first one is successful early enough in the season.

Although yellowthroats are common and widespread today, there is some evidence that this was not always the case, especially in northern New Hampshire. Prior to widespread forest clearing they were probably limited to natural wetlands such as bogs and beaver ponds, but quickly took advantage of new habitat as it became available. Current data indicate that they are not in slow decline, appropriately enough for a species that uses early successional habitats. Luckily, their use of natural wetlands and man-made shrublands ensures they’ll always have a place on the New Hampshire landscape.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Common Yellowthroat
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count