Skip to Content

12 Yellow Birds in Florida

yellow birds in florida
Prairie Warbler in Pinellas, Florida: Photo by Christina Evans

Introduction

From tiny palm warblers scurrying through scrub forests to, well, more warblers, yellow birds come in astounding diversity across Florida. The Sunshine State’s varied ecosystems from subtropical hardwood hammocks to sweeping prairies attract a remarkable array of avian jewels decked out in brilliant golden plumage. In this article, we’ll explore some stunning yellow birds found in Florida, top places to spot them, and how we can aid in their conservation.

Prothonotary Warbler – Protonotaria citrea

  • Features: The prothonotary warbler is a small and vibrant songbird with a striking, golden-yellow head and chest contrasted by its blue-gray wings. Its bright plumage gives it the nickname “Golden Swamp Warbler.” The bird has a sharp, pointed beak, which is ideal for catching insects.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: While the prothonotary warbler’s range extends beyond Florida, within the state, they are commonly found in hardwood swamps, marshes, and forested wetlands. They have a particular affinity for areas with slow-moving or stagnant water.
  • Fun Fact: Prothonotary warblers are cavity-nesting birds, often occupying old woodpecker holes or other natural cavities in trees near water. They’ve even been known to use nest boxes provided by humans. 

Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas

  • Features: The common yellowthroat is a small warbler distinguished by its bright yellow throat and chest. Males are particularly recognizable with their distinctive black “bandit” mask across their eyes, contrasting with an olive-green back. Females are more subdued in coloration, lacking the black mask and displaying softer, brownish tones.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: The common yellowthroat can be found throughout Florida, being one of the state’s most widespread warblers. They inhabit a variety of wet habitats, including marshes, wet meadows, and stream edges. Often, they can be seen skulking about in dense vegetation, rarely venturing out in the open.
  • Fun Fact: In parts of the Midwest, this bird is called “the yellow bandit.” 

Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum

  • Features: The palm warbler is a small songbird with distinctive yellow undertail coverts and a chestnut cap. Its overall coloration ranges from yellowish to dull brown, depending on the subspecies and season. One of its most notable behaviors is its constant tail bobbing when perched.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: During the winter months, Florida is a primary destination for the palm warbler. They can be found in a variety of habitats, from open pine woods to marshes and fields. They’re also common in urban areas, often seen foraging on the ground in parks and gardens.
  • Fun Fact: Despite its name, the Palm Warbler is not particularly associated with palm trees. The name comes from the type specimen which was collected in the West Indies on a type of tree called a “palm.” 

Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus

  • Features: The pine warbler is a subtly colored songbird, primarily adorned in shades of olive-green and yellow, with males tending to be brighter than females. Its undertail coverts and belly often have a yellow wash. This bird has a thin, pointed beak and, as its name suggests, has a strong association with pine trees.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: The pine warbler is a year-round resident in much of Florida. True to its name, it’s frequently found in pine-dominated forests, particularly longleaf and slash pines. They can often be seen foraging high in the canopy but will occasionally come to the ground or visit bird feeders.
  • Fun Fact: It’s one of the first warblers to return to the breeding grounds in spring and among the few warblers that are year-round residents in the southeastern U.S. In Florida, their association with pine forests underscores the importance of these habitats for a range of bird species.

Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor

  • Features: The prairie warbler is a small, brightly colored bird with a distinctive pattern of olive-green on the back and bright yellow below. Males often display bold black streaks on the flanks and a distinctive black line through the eye. Both sexes possess a noticeable face pattern with a crescent below the eye.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: Prairie warblers can be commonly found in Florida, especially during the winter months. They inhabit scrubby fields, regrowing forests, and other disturbed areas where shrubby growth is abundant. In Florida, they can often be seen in the state’s unique scrub habitats.
  • Fun Fact: Contrary to its name, the Prairie Warbler is not typically found in prairies. Its name likely arises from its presence in the “prairie” region of Kentucky, where the first specimen was collected. 

Blue-winged Warbler – Vermivora cyanoptera

  • Features: The blue-winged warbler is a petite bird with a vibrant yellow face and underparts. Its wings display a subtle blue-gray tint, giving the bird its name. The standout feature on the male is two white wing bars, and both sexes have a thin, black line through the eye.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: While their breeding range is primarily to the north of Florida, blue-winged warblers can be seen in Florida during migration. They tend to frequent scrubby habitats, open woodlands, and areas with secondary growth.
  • Fun Fact: Blue-winged warblers have a distinct, buzzing song often described as a sharp “beee-bzzz.” 

Yellow-throated Vireo – Vireo flavifrons

  • Features: The yellow-throated vireo is a songbird with a bright yellow throat and chest, contrasting with its olive-green back and wings. It possesses a striking face pattern with bold white spectacles around its eyes and a thick, bluish-gray bill which stands out against its yellow face.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: Yellow-throated vireos are found throughout Florida during their migratory periods. During spring and fall migration, they can be spotted in a variety of wooded habitats, from hardwood forests to mixed woodlands. They favor the canopy, often singing from high perches.
  • Fun Fact: As meticulous nest builders, they weave a deep, cup-shaped nest that’s so tightly constructed it can hold water. Typically, they suspend this nest from forked tree branches.

Hooded Warbler – Setophaga citrina

  • Features: The hooded warbler is a striking bird, especially the male, who boasts a bright yellow face and underparts contrasted by a deep black hood and throat, giving the appearance of wearing a black mask. Females are similarly colored but have a more muted hood or sometimes just a dark outline around their eyes.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: Hooded warblers are regular visitors to Florida during migration and some winter in the state. They prefer mature forests with dense undergrowth, which provides cover and nesting sites. During their stay, they can be found foraging in the understory or lower canopy, often close to the ground.
  • Fun Fact: These birds are ground nesters, typically placing their nests in well-concealed locations among leaf litter or low vegetation. 

American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

  • Features: The American goldfinch, often referred to as the “wild canary,” is a small, vibrant bird. In the breeding season, males are bright yellow with a black forehead, black wings with white markings, and a white rump. Females are more olive-yellow with similar wing patterns. Outside of the breeding season, both sexes take on a more subdued, olive-brown hue but retain the wing markings.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: While American goldfinches breed primarily to the north, they migrate southward in the winter, with Florida being a popular wintering spot. They can be found in fields, meadows, and gardens, often flocking to bird feeders.
  • Fun Fact: American goldfinches are strict vegetarians, one of the few bird species to consume only plant matter. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, which they adeptly pick with their conical beak. Their flight pattern is distinctive, with a series of bounds and tucks, often accompanied by a melodic “po-ta-to-chip” call.

Scarlet Tanager (Female) – Piranga olivacea

  • Features: Unlike the vibrant red male, the female scarlet tanager is a subdued olive-yellow with dark wings and tail. Her understated coloration might not catch the eye as easily as the male’s, but it provides excellent camouflage among foliage. Both sexes have a large, thick bill, which is ideal for their varied diet.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: While scarlet tanagers primarily breed in the northeastern and north-central parts of North America, they migrate through Florida in spring and fall. They can be found in a variety of forested habitats during these periods, from mature hardwoods to mixed woodlands.
  • Fun Fact: Despite the striking difference in plumage between the sexes, female scarlet tanagers have the same melodic song as the males, though they sing less frequently. Their call, often likened to a hoarse robin, is distinctive and carries well through the forest. 

Summer Tanager (Female) – Piranga rubra

  • Features: The female summer tanager, similar to the scarlet tanager, presents a contrast to the bright red male. She is a warm yellow all over, with a slightly paler belly. Her large, stout bill is adapted for catching and eating insects, especially bees and wasps.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: Summer tanagers are summer residents and breeders in parts of Florida. They can be found in a variety of forested habitats, including open woodlands, edges, and even suburban areas with tall trees. 
  • Fun Fact: The summer tanager has earned the nickname “bee bird” due to its impressive ability to catch bees and wasps in flight. Before consumption, the tanager will rub the insect on a branch to remove the sting. 

Orchard Oriole (Female/Immature) – Icterus spurius

  • Features: The female orchard oriole sports a yellowish-green plumage, contrasting with the dark chestnut and black of the mature male. Her wings are darker, with two white wing bars. The female’s appearance is distinctly different from the male, as is that of an immature oriole, making it easy to mistake her for a different species at first glance.
  • Where to Find Them in Florida: Orchard orioles pass through Florida primarily during migration, though they do breed in parts of the state. They favor open habitats interspersed with trees, such as, you guessed it, orchards, farmlands, and suburban areas with mature trees.
  • Fun Fact: The orchard oriole is the smallest oriole species in North America. 

Threats and Conservation

Habitat degradation, collisions during migration, pesticide impacts on food sources, and nest parasitism all threaten yellow birds. Providing natural food sources, keeping cats indoors, and supporting habitat conservation in Florida’s vanishing wild areas can give these yellow birds a brighter future.

Conclusion

The variety and sheer brilliance of yellow-plumaged birds seen across Florida represent a natural heritage worth celebrating. All of these species and more that are not included on this list make Florida a richer place. Thoughtful conservation initiatives can help ensure yellow birds continue brightening Florida’s varied ecosystems for generations.