Feb 20, 2019 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, February 2019

Watch for the Winter Warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler in winter plumage. Photo by W.H. Majoros / Wikimedia.
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Many bird watchers think of warblers as beautiful but elusive little birds, easiest to spot in the spring as they announce their return with song. But there's one species of warbler that remains across most of North America even when temperatures plummet and snow flies. The yellow-rumped warbler, colloquially dubbed "butter butt," frequents open, brushy areas such as field edges, thickets, and especially among bayberry and juniper. They especially love poison ivy and myrtle fruits, and were once called "myrtle warblers." Watch for them as they dine on berry bushes, and even at your suet or sunflower feeder. They also enjoy raisins and peanut butter. In addition to the bird's yellow rump, look for yellow patches on the flanks just below the wings, and a broken, white eye ring.



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  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018
  • I had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018