Vol. 2, No. 3 – The Yellow Warbler

Summer Yellow-Bird for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Summer Yellow-Bird for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897



N a recent article Angus Gaines describes so delightfully some of the characteristics of the Yellow Warbler, or Summer Yellow-bird, sometimes called the Wild Canary, that we are tempted to make use of part of it. “Back and forth across the garden the little yellow birds were flitting, dodging through currant and gooseberry bushes, hiding in the lilacs, swaying for an instant on swinging sprays of grape vines, and then flashing out across the garden beds like yellow sunbeams. They were lithe, slender, dainty little creatures, and were so quick in their movements that I could not recognize them at first, but when one of them hopped down before me, lifted a fallen leaf and dragged a cutworm from beneath it, and, turning his head, gave me a sidewise glance with his victim still struggling in his beak, I knew him. His gay coat was yellow without the black cap, wings, and tail which show in such marked contrast to the bright canary hue of that other yellow bird, the Gold-finch.

“Small and delicate as these birds are, they had been on a long journey to the southward to spend the winter, and now on the first of May, they had returned to their old home to find the land at its fairest—all blossoms, buds, balmy air, sunshine, and melody. As they flitted about in their restless way, they sang the soft, low, warbling trills, which gave them their name of Yellow Warbler.”

Mrs. Wright says these beautiful birds come like whirling leaves, half autumn yellow, half green of spring, the colors blending as in the outer petals of grass-grown daffodils. “Lovable, cheerful little spirits, darting about the trees, exclaiming at each morsel that they glean. Carrying sun glints on their backs wherever they go, they should make the gloomiest misanthrope feel the season’s charm. They are so sociable and confiding, feeling as much at home in the trees by the house as in seclusion.”

The Yellow-bird builds in bushes, and the nest is a wonderful example of bird architecture. Milkweed, lint and its strips of fine bark are glued to twigs, and form the exterior of the nest. Its inner lining is made of the silky down on dandelion-balls woven together with horse-hair. In this dainty nest are laid four or five creamy white eggs, speckled with lilac tints and red-browns. The unwelcome egg of the Cow-bird is often found in the Yellow-bird’s nest, but this Warbler builds a floor over the egg, repeating the expedient, if the Cow-bird continues her mischief, until sometimes a third story is erected.

A pair of Summer Yellow-birds, we are told, had built their nest in a wild rose bush, and were rearing their family in a wilderness of fragrant blossoms whose tinted petals dropped upon the dainty nest, or settled upon the back of the brooding mother. The birds, however, did not stay “to have their pictures taken,” but their nest may be seen among the roses.

The Yellow Warbler’s song is Sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-sweeter-sweeter: seven times repeated.


YELLOW WARBLER.Dendroica æstiva. Other names: “Summer Yellow-bird,” “Wild Canary,” “Yellow-poll Warbler.”

Range—The whole of North America; breeding throughout its range. In winter, the whole of middle America and northern South America.

Nest—Built in an apple tree, cup-shaped, neat and compact, composed of plant fibres, bark, etc.

Eggs—Four or five; greenish-white, spotted.

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by J Fenton

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by J Fenton

Lee’s Addition:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalms 69:30 KJV)

This Yellow Warbler is now the American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) which is the Parulidae – New World Warblers Family.

The Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia, formerly Dendroica petechia) is a New World warbler species. Sensu lato, they make up the most widespread Setophaga species, breeding in almost the whole of North America and down to northern South America.

Other than in male breeding plumage, all subspecies are very similar. Winter, female and immature birds all have similarly greenish-yellow uppersides and are a duller yellow below. Young males soon acquire breast and, where appropriate, head coloration. Females are somewhat duller, most notably on the head. In all, the remiges and rectrices are blackish olive with yellow edges, sometimes appearing as an indistinct wing-band on the former. The eyes and the short thin beak are dark, while the feet are lighter or darker olive-buff.

The 35 subspecies of D. petechia sensu lato can be divided into three main groups according to the males’ head color in the breeding season. Each of these groups is sometimes considered a separate species, or the aestiva group (Yellow Warbler) is considered a species different from D. petechia (Mangrove Warbler, including Golden Warbler); the latter option is the one currently accepted by the International Ornithological Congress World Bird List.

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by Daves BirdingPix

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by Daves BirdingPix


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for September 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Hermit Thrush

The Previous Article – Bird Song – September

Wordless Birds


Parulidae – New World Warblers

American Yellow Warbler – All About Birds

American Yellow Warbler – Wikipedia

Yellow Warbler – What Bird


2 thoughts on “Vol. 2, No. 3 – The Yellow Warbler

  1. Pingback: Rare Basra reed warbler breeds in Israel | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Prothonotary warbler nest boxes in the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Replies Welcomed!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.