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23 Yellow Birds in Oklahoma

yellow birds in oklahoma
American Yellow Warbler in Tulsa, Oklahoma: Photo by Terry Mitchell

Introduction

From flashy orioles to subtly-hued vireos, a variety of striking yellow birds in Oklahoma. Their bright golden tones stand out beautifully against backdrops of plain, forest, and wetland. Let’s explore some top yellow birds gracing Oklahoma’s diverse landscapes.

Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) 

27 Yellow Birds in Indiana
  • Features: This bulky insect-eater has a distinctly crested head and lemon-yellow belly contrasting olive-brown wings and back. The rufous tail has white outer feathers seen in flight. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in woodland areas statewide. Winters in southern U.S. south to Central America.
  • Fun Fact: Weaves shed snakeskins into nest material, possibly to deter predators. Has an unpleasant rattling call.

Cassin’s Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans)

  • Features: Gray flycatcher with pale yellow belly. Black tail with thin white tip. Black cap and mask through eye contrast gray cheeks. Short notched bill for catching insects.
  • Locations: Found in open wooded areas with scattered trees statewide during summer breeding season. Winters south to Central America.
  • Fun Fact: Noisy and quarrelsome personality. Male displays by spiraling high up on fluttering wings and plunging straight down.

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  

  • Features: Gray flycatcher with yellow throat and pale yellow belly. Black tail has conspicuous white outer tail feathers. Black mask through eyes.
  • Locations: Found in open country such as pastures, prairies and agricultural areas during summer breeding season. Winters south to Mexico. 
  • Fun Fact: Aggressive defender of nesting territory, calling loudly while diving at intruders. 

Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons)

  • Features: Spring adults have bright yellow throat and breast contrasting gray head and white belly. Sturdy bill has hooked tip. Sings burry, laid-back song. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in mature deciduous forests statewide. Winters in the tropics.  
  • Fun Fact: Arrives early on breeding grounds to establish nesting territory in treetop branches near trunk.

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  

  • Features: Plain grayish olive-green upperparts with pale yellow undersides. White spectacles. Thin pointed bill suits insect-eating. Sings a repetitive, warbling song.
  • Locations: Found breeding in mature open deciduous forests and woodlands statewide. Winters in Central and South America. 
  • Fun Fact: Male and female build hanging woven nest together. Female incubates eggs and broods young.

Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)

  • Features: Tiny olive-gray songbird with black and white facial stripes and bright golden-yellow central crown stripe. Almost constantly active while foraging.  
  • Locations: Found wintering and migrating through Oklahoma’s mountain forests and scrublands. Summers farther north.
  • Fun Fact: High-energy forager, able to drop body temperature and enter torpor while roosting to conserve energy.

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

  • Features: Small seed-eating finch with short conical bill. Bright golden-yellow body contrasts black cap, wings, and tail. White wing bars. Swift flight. 
  • Locations: Found in weedy fields and other open areas with seed sources statewide year-round. 
  • Fun Fact: Nesting timed for peak seed production in midsummer. Male displays by flying in swooping arcs while singing a percussive melody.  

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)

  • Features: Boldly patterned songbird with bright yellow throat and chest, black mask, white spectacles, gray back, and white belly. Heavy bill indicates insectivorous diet. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in dense underbrush and thickets statewide. Winters in Mexico south to Panama.
  • Fun Fact: A mimic that sings a remarkable variety of calls, whistles, chuckles and chatter sounds. Skulks in heavy cover.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

  • Features: Plump yellow-breasted songbird with black “V” across chest. White outer tail feathers flash in flight. Yellow throat outlined by black whiskers. Flute-like whistle. 
  • Locations: Found year-round in open grasslands across Oklahoma. 
  • Fun Fact: Nests on the ground tucked into dense vegetation. More adaptable to forest edges and fragmentation than Eastern meadowlark. 

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)

  • Features: Medium-sized songbird with brown and black streaked upperparts and bright yellow underparts with a black “V” across the breast. Long tail shows white outer feathers in flight. Flute-like whistled songrings across fields.
  • Locations: Found year-round in open grasslands and meadows statewide. Perches at tops of bushes, fences and posts to sing.
  • Fun Fact: Male displays over potential nest site, singing while hovering 20-30 feet high with fluttering wings and tail fanned, then parachuting down.

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)

  • Features: Bright golden head and underparts shine like a hallmark against blue-gray wings and tail. Short pointed bill suits insectivorous habits. Clear, ringing song.
  • Locations: Found breeding in wooded swamps, bottomland forests and along rivers statewide. Winters in tropical regions further south. 
  • Fun Fact: Nest sites in natural tree cavities or nest boxes near water. One of few warblers to regularly use holes for nesting.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Leiothlypis celata)  

  • Features: Despite its name, rarely shows orange crown streaking. A nondescript gray-green songbird with pale yellow underparts and indistinct wingbars. Constantly pumps tail.
  • Locations: Found migrating and wintering statewide in areas with dense shrubs and overgrown vegetation. Summers farther north. 
  • Fun Fact: Male has unique swaying courtship display, leaning side to side with feathers fluffed out.

Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla 

  • Features: Olive-gray warbler with muted yellow underparts. Male has bold rufous cap and white eye ring. Thin pointed bill suited for catching insects while hopping along branches.
  • Locations: Found during seasonal migration across Oklahoma. Breeds farther north or northeast. Winters from Mexico southward.  
  • Fun Fact: The orange crown feathers are concealed outside breeding season after molting. 

Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa)

  • Features: Bright yellow warbler with olive-green back, black streaks down flanks, and black mask around eyes. Melodious ringing song carries through lowland forests.  
  • Locations: Found breeding in dense underbrush across eastern Oklahoma. Winters in southern Central America and northwestern South America.
  • Fun Fact: Nests on ground laying eggs on flat leaves or at the base of ferns in heavy forest undergrowth. 

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas 

  • Features: Male’s black mask with bright white borders encircles olive upperparts and bright yellow underparts. Female is paler with duller olive hue over face. Skulks low in vegetation. 
  • Locations: Found year-round breeding in thickets and overgrown fields statewide. Forages on or near ground.
  • Fun Fact: Male sings loud, fast witchety-witchety-witchety song from within tangles to proclaim his territory and attract mates.

Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)  

  • Features: Male has striking black hood encircling bright yellow face. Olive-green upperparts. Female duller with gray hood. Loud, whistled melody. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in mature, shady deciduous forests statewide. Winters in Mexico to Panama. 
  • Fun Fact: Nests in understory shrub layer, often near streams. The black hood fades outside breeding season.

Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  

  • Features: Small warbler with blue-gray back, wings and tail. Yellow-green patch on back. Male has chestnut breast band and yellow-green throat and supercilium. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in eastern Oklahoma’s forests with Spanish moss and Usnea lichens. Migrates across state. Winters from Mexico southward.  
  • Fun Fact: Nest woven from lichens and suspended in vertical branches draped with Usnea lichens, which the birds also use to glean insects from.

American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva)  

  • Features: Male has olive-yellow upperparts with rusty streaked breast. Female paler yellow overall with fainter streaking below. Often flicks tail. Sweet sweet sweet I’m a sweet call.
  • Locations: Found breeding statewide in wetland areas with shrubs and small trees. Winters in Middle America south to northwestern South America.
  • Fun Fact: Monogamous pairs work together to construct the pouch-like nest bound to upright forked branches. 

Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus)  

  • Features: Yellow-olive warbler with blurry yellow wingbars and whitish belly. Face is yellow with blurry olive streaking. Song a trilled series of buzzy notes. 
  • Locations: Found year-round breeding in pine forests across Oklahoma. Feeds on pine seeds and insects.  
  • Fun Fact: One of the earliest warbler species to migrate north in the spring. Will attend feeders for suet and seeds.

Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica)  

  • Features: Bright yellow throat and breast with olive-gray back, two bold white wingbars, and white supercilium and cheeks. Male shows black mask with borders.  
  • Locations: Found breeding in mature pine and cypress forests in southeastern Oklahoma. Winters in southern Mexico south to Panama.  
  • Fun Fact: Less energetic forager than other warblers. Tends to deliberately pick prey from pine needles and branches while creeping along tree limbs. 

Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)

  • Features: Olive-streaked back with bright yellow underparts and thin dark arc below eye. Red streaks along brown flanks. Tail dark with white outer edges. Rapid rising and falling song.  
  • Locations: Found breeding statewide in old fields and regenerating clearcuts with scattered scrubby trees and shrubs. Winters along southeastern U.S. coasts south to West Indies.
  • Fun Fact: Favors sites with thickets of young loblolly pines, hawthorns, blackberries or similar scrubby growth. Nest very low in thickets.

Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)   

  • Features: Small songbird with olive-green upperparts and bright yellow head and underparts. Male shows dark cap. Broad pale eye ring and long tail.
  • Locations: Found during seasonal migration across Oklahoma. Summers farther north. Winters along Pacific coast southward through Middle America.  
  • Fun Fact: Tends to forage closer to ground than other warblers. Males sing a loud, ringing “tsweet” from elevated exposed perch during courtship.

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) – Females  

  • Features: The female summer tanager is mostly olive-yellow with darker wings and tail unlike the bright red male. Hooked dull-toned bill indicates partly frugivorous diet. 
  • Locations: Found breeding statewide in mature open deciduous forests and woodlands. Winters in South America.
  • Fun Fact: Female lays pale blue eggs with brown speckling in a loosely woven shallow nest built high in a horizontal tree limb.

Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) – Females  

  • Features: Female is olive-yellow overall with darker olive-brown wings and tail unlike the male’s bright red breeding plumage. Bill shape facilitates mixed diet of insects and fruit.
  • Locations: Breeds high in mature forest canopy across Oklahoma. Winters in South America.  
  • Fun Fact: Female builds nest in a horizontal tree fork out of twigs, rootlets and grass, lining it with softer materials like fine stems.

Threats and Conservation   

Habitat loss is the biggest threat, as development degrades breeding sites and migratory stopover habitats. Pesticides reduce insect prey populations relied upon by many species. Collisions with structures take a major toll during migration. Climate change may shift suitable ranges. Protecting diverse vegetation, improving policies, and monitoring populations can help mitigate declines.

Citizen Science Opportunities  

Oklahoma birders make valuable contributions:

  • Uploading eBird checklists to track populations over time  
  • Participating in breeding bird atlasing projects 
  • Building and monitoring nest boxes  
  • Banding birds to understand survivorship and movements
  • Conducting seasonal bird counts  
  • Educating others to inspire conservation interest

Conclusion

From tiny kinglets to flashy orioles, Oklahoma’s diverse array of yellow birds fill important ecosystem roles. Ensuring adequate habitat protections and monitoring populations will help sustain these bright beauties across the dramatic landscapes of the Sooner State.