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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  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021