Yellow birds stand out against deep green foliage or the dry gray-brown of tree branches. Bright and arresting, birds with plumage the color of the sun, lemons and buttercups catch our eyes.
I started this list with the most common yellow birds in North America and Southeastern Pennsylvania. There are so few species, it is easy to learn to identify them all.
The influx of yellow birds comes during migration and the breeding season, when various neotropical migrants fly north. Most of these neotropical migrants are warblers.
During migration, the Philadelphia area is inundated with yellow warblers that pass through the area on their way to points north. There are so many, I decided to post that list tomorrow.
I don’t have photos for each species, but I hope the few that I missed you will be able to locate in a field guide.
Widespread Across North America in Winter and At Bird Feeders
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) yellowish in winter, summer males are a brilliant yellow, a year-around resident of Pennsylvania. This indigenous bird is often sold in pet stores
Evening Grosbeak (Coccthraustes vespertinus) – winters in central and northern PA (from late September to May), uncommon in Philadelphia area.
White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) – yellow spot in front of eyes, winters in Delaware Valley, year-around resident of northeastern PA.
Year Around Residents of Delaware Valley
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) yellowish in winter, summer males are a brilliant yellow, a year-around resident of Pennsylvania. This indigenous bird is often sold in pet stores.
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) – year around in southern half of PA, winters in Delaware Valley
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) – year around in Pennsylvania. A gorgeous, elegant bird with yellowish wash on belly and yellow “waxy” tail tips.
Resident in the Eastern North America During the Winter Months
Evening Grosbeak (Coccthraustes vespertinus) – winters in PA, rarely breeds in PA
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus) – winter in Delaware Valley, year-around in northern mountains of PA
Yellow-Headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)- winters in Delaware Valley.
Found in Eastern North America during Spring and Fall Migration
Many yellow warblers pass through SE Pennsylvania during migration.These species are not included on below but on a separate list.
Blue-Headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) – spring migrant through SE PA, breeds in other areas of PA
Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus) – spring migrant through Pennsylvania
Summer Tanager (Priranga rubra), female – may pass through SE PA during migration season.
Breeds in Southern Pennsylvania During the Summer Months
The following list of birds are some of the yellow birds which stay around to breed in the woodlands and forests of Pennsylvania, the rest are warblers. In some of the species on this list, the female has yellowish plumage and the male is a very different color.
Baltimore Oriole (Icerus galbula) breeds in PA, male is orange and black, female is yellowish
Great Crested Flycathcer (Myiarchus crinitus) breeds in PA, yellow belly
Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius), breeds in southeastern PA and perhaps Delaware Valley, female has yellow plumage
Red-Eyed Vireo (Vireo olivceus) – breeds in Pennsylvania, may have yellow wash on sides
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), breeds in SE PA, male is brilliant scarlet, female is olive-yellow
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) – breeds in SE PA
Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) breeds in PA , yellowish belly
Yellow-Throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) – breeds in SE PA
Rarely Seen in Pennsylvania
Dickcissel (Spiza amricana) – an irruptive species that appears in PA during droughts in the Midwestern United States
Putting together this list was fun. I think I was just learning to identify birds, I would stick with identifying the year-round, winter and non-warblers. Learning the warblers maybe something to aim for during my retirement years.
Resources: Birds of Pennsylvania by Haas
Winter Feeder Birds: Identifying Blue Birds
Winter Feeder Birds: Identifying Woodpeckers
Birds by Color: Yellow Warblers