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 live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020