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The yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata) is one of the most common winter birds
in Louisiana. The species typically arrives in October and lingers through April. It can
be found in evergreen or deciduous forest, shrub-scrub areas, coastal cheniers, swamps and
wooded backyards. It breeds in coniferous and mixed forests in Alaska, Canada, New
England, the western United States and Mexico.
In its winter plumage, the yellow-rumped warbler is a fairly nondescript bird. It
measures about 5.5 inches from bill tip to tail tip. It has a small, thin, pointed bill
and grayish brown crown, back, wings and tail. Its breast and sides have variable brownish
streaking. The throat, belly and vent are whitish. There is a thin whitish line running
over the eye from the bill to the back of the head and a brown cheek patch. Its most
distinctive feature is its bright yellow rump. There is often a small amount of yellow on
the sides and some birds may show yellow on the crown as well.
In the spring, birdwatchers may see yellow-rumped warblers in bolder breeding plumage.
The dull browns are replaced with darker browns, grays and blacks, and the yellow markings
are brighter. Dr. George Lowery, author of Louisiana Birds, opined that these birds in
breeding plumage were birds that had wintered in Central America and were traveling back
through Louisiana after crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
||Yellow-rumped warblers usually travel in flocks ranging from a few to
dozens of birds. These flocks often contain other small bird species, including
ruby-crowned kinglets, blue-gray gnatcatchers, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice and
orange-crowned warblers. The yellow-rumped warblers search through the habitat from ground
to treetop level, feeding upon insects, spiders and various small fruits. Some of their
favorite fruits include poison-ivy (Rhus radicans) berries and wax myrtle (Myrica
cerifera) fruits. In fact, the species used to be known as the myrtle warbler because of
its fondness for wax myrtle fruits. Recent research in Louisiana has shown that
yellow-rumped warblers also feed on the waxy coating that covers Chinese tallow tree
(Sapium sebiferum) seeds.
These birds do not typically use seed feeders, but they may come to feeding stations
offering suet, peanut butter mixtures or cut pieces of fruit. They are also attracted by
water sources such as bird baths and fountains. Yards planted with a variety of trees,
shrubs and vines will usually attract yellow-rumped warblers.
After seeing a few thousand of these ubiquitous warblers, birdwatchers may become
rather blase' about their presence. Savvy birders know to carefully scan these flocks,
however, because less common birds, such as yellow-throated warblers and brown creepers,
can sometimes be found in association with the hordes of yellow-rumps.
For more information contact Bill Vermillion at 225/765-2976 (email@example.com)
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