14 Types of Yellow Birds in California (with Pictures)

Last Updated on November 29, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

In the spring and summer, numerous warblers and tanagers migrate to California, making the state team with yellow birds.

However, in the winter, the Yellow-rumped Warbler and the smaller goldfinch are the most often seen yellow species.

There are several species of yellow birds that may be seen across California, and this article will assist you in recognizing the ones you see by providing photos, descriptions, and information on when they migrate through the state.

These are the different types of yellow birds in California.

ImageName
Lesser GoldfinchLesser Goldfinch
Yellow-headed BlackbirdYellow-headed Blackbird
Yellow-rumped WarblerYellow-rumped Warbler
Nashville WarblerNashville Warbler
Orange-Crowned WarblerOrange-Crowned Warbler
Western KingbirdWestern Kingbird
Yellow-throated WarblerYellow-throated Warbler
Western TanagerWestern Tanager
American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Hooded OrioleHooded Oriole
Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker
Yellow WarblerYellow Warbler
Cedar WaxwingCedar Waxwing
Wilson's WarblerWilson's Warbler

Types of Yellow Birds in California

1. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

The state of California is a year-round destination for Lesser Goldfinches.

The state’s birdwatchers have included them on 30% of summer and 22% of winter checklists.

The small, vivid yellow and black Lesser Goldfinches are songbirds that have long, pointy wings and short, hooked tails. Females are olive on the back and a duller yellow on the belly.

Although Lesser Goldfinches may be seen in the southwestern United States and along the West Coast throughout the year, the birds that nest in the interior of the western United States go south for the winter.

Habitat & Food

Lesser Goldfinches congregate in large groups in a variety of open environments such as weedy meadows, shrublands, woodland openings, gardens, and parks. 

They eat a variety of seeds, although sunflower seeds make up the bulk of their diet.

They also eat berries and buds from trees, including willows, cottonwoods, sycamores, and alders.

Lesser Goldfinches build their cup-shaped nests of leaves, bark, and other plant material and secure them with spider webs to a tree or shrub near a water source.

Two weeks after hatching, the young will emerge from the nest. They may hatch up to six eggs.

The larger Lawrence’s Goldfinch is the Lesser Goldfinch’s mortal enemy; the smaller species will drive the larger species away from feeders and breeding places.

2. Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow Headed Blackbird

From March through October, 2% of California summertime checklists include the Yellow-headed Blackbird.

Male Yellow-headed Blackbirds also have white patches on their wings, making them a remarkable species.

Unlike males, females have brown bodies and a less vibrant yellow crown.

They tower above their smaller cousins, the Red-winged Blackbirds.

Habitat & Food

The reeds of western and prairie wetlands are home to Yellow-headed Blackbird nests throughout the breeding season.

During the summer, they scavenge for insects over the neighboring meadows, marshes, and farms.

After mating, Yellow-headed Blackbirds cluster together and spend the winter in the fields and countryside of the Southwest and Mexico.

In the summer, Yellow-headed Blackbirds eat mostly insects, whereas, in the winter, they eat more seeds and grains.

Yellow-headed blackbirds build their intricate nests on floating platforms of cattails or reeds.

Two weeks later, the chicks will hatch, and another week or so after, they’ll be ready to fly away.

3. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Winter is the best time to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler within California, but you could possibly come across one in the mating season if you go to the state’s northern regions.

In the state, they appear on 5% of summertime checklists and 48% of winter.

Gray with yellow highlights on the face, rump, flanks, and white on the wings best describes the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Birds in the winter are a lighter brown with brilliant yellow rumps and sides, but by spring, they have reverted to their typical bright yellow and gray plumage.

Range

Canada, the northern Appalachians, and the southern Rockies are the most common breeding grounds for Yellow-rumped Warblers.

During the winter, they may be found in the southern and southwestern United States, along the Pacific Coast, and in Central America and Mexico, but during migration, they can be spotted in the Midwest.

Habitat & Food

During the spring and summer, Yellow-rumped Warblers are common in coniferous woods.

They spend the winter in places with fruiting bushes and open terrain.

They subsist mostly on insects and migrating animals in the summer but switch to eating fruit like wax myrtle and bayberry in the winter.

The female Yellow-rumped Warbler builds the nest from pine needles, twigs, and grass and lines it with moss, soft grass, and hair, usually in a conifer tree.

They may hatch up to six eggs at a time, which take approximately 2 weeks to hatch and another 2 weeks to fledge.

Feeding birds such as suet, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and raisins can bring Yellow-rumped Warblers to your garden.

In the winter, thousands of Yellow-rumped Warblers cluster together, and they may become hostile against other birds if they are disturbed.

Read:  13 Types of Blue Birds in California

4. Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

The best time to see a Nashville Warbler throughout California is from April through October.

They establish their breeding populations in the state’s northern regions and can be spotted migrating throughout the southern regions.

The undersides of Nashville Warblers are primarily yellow, but they have white on their lower bellies. Their heads are gray and their eyes are white, and their backs are a greenish yellow.

Women and children generally have lower IQs than men.

Breeding populations of Nashville Warblers are found in the northeastern United States and Canada, with a relatively small population in the northwest United States and British Columbia.

During the spring and fall migrations, they may be seen across the majority of the United States. As a rule, they go south to Mexico during the colder months.

Habitat

The Nashville Warbler is a species of bird that lives in low deciduous woods and scrubby areas, where it feeds on insects.

Nashville Warblers build their nests in low, dense shrubbery. The nest is a cup-shaped structure made of bark, moss, and grass that is lined with a softer substance.

They typically produce a brood of four, with an average incubation period of 12 days and a mean fledging time of 10 days.

5. Orange-Crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Northern California is home to orange-crowned warblers, which can be seen in greater numbers during migration and breeding season.

Some, however, choose to remain throughout the winter. Checklists taken in the summer show 11% of them, those taken in the winter show 8%, and those taken during migrations show up to 23%.

Range

The orange-crowned warbler may not be as brightly colored as other species of warbler, and its yellow-olive coloring is even more pronounced on the Pacific Coast.

They usually hide their orange crown.

The Orange-crowned Warbler is a species of bird that may be found across Canada and the western states of the United States.

During migration, they may be spotted in every state in the US except the Northeast.

Habitat & Food

The Orange-crowned Warbler is a common sight in dense underbrush and bushes, although it prefers open woods for nesting.

Spiders and insects like caterpillars and flies make up the bulk of their meal. They are also frequent backyard feeders in search of berries, fruit, and seeds.

It is common for Orange-crowned Warblers to build their nests on the ground or very close to it out of a combination of decaying leaves, twigs, and branches with a lining of fine grass and animal hair.

Approximately six eggs may be laid by a single female.

6. Western Kingbird

Western Kingbirds

The western kingbird breeds throughout California from March to October. 7% of the summer list includes them.

The Western Kingbird is a big flycatcher that has a yellow underbelly, a grayish brown head, a white breast, grayish brown wings, and a black tail having white margins.

Range

During the summer, you may see Western Kingbirds nesting all across the western United States, the Great Plains, and even parts of Canada.

In the winter, they may overwinter in the southern part of Florida.

Habitat & Food

The Western Kingbird is a common sight in open areas, where it may be seen sitting on fences or utility wires, waiting for insects to fly past and snatching them in midair.

Western Kingbirds typically construct their nests in trees or bushes, but they may sometimes use man-made structures like buildings or poles.

The female builds the nest, which is a cup-shaped structure constructed of grass, twigs, and other plant materials.

It takes two to three weeks for their maximum clutch size of seven eggs to hatch and another two weeks for the young to fledge.

7. Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Although Common Yellowthroats may be found across California at any time of the year, the months of April through June and September through December are peak migratory months for the species.

For the state as a whole, they are included in 11% of summertime and 8% of winter checklists.

Small songbirds with long tails, Common Yellow-throats are brown on top and brilliant yellow below. All of the males hide their faces behind thick black masks.

The undersides might be more olive in color, depending on the region.

Range

During the summer months, Common Yellowthroats breed across the majority of North America, except northern Canada and Alaska.

Some people live there year-round in the Southwest and Gulf Coast. They go for warmer climes in the south each winter.

Habitat

Common Yellowthroats like dense, tangled vegetation, so you’ll find them in wetlands, marshes, and brushy fields.

Female Common Yellowthroats construct their reed-supported nests low to the ground in marshes.

The nest is a platform of grass and leaves surrounded by a tangle of sedges and grass.

They may produce up to six eggs, each of which takes around 12 days to hatch and fledge.

Courting male Common Yellow-throats recognize a male bird by its distinctive black mask and will aggressively attack any imitations that are utilized.

Read:  12 Types of Black Birds in North America

8. Western Tanager

Western Tanagers

During the mating season, Western Tanagers may be seen throughout California, but the months of May and September see a dramatic rise in the number of these birds as they migrate north and south.

Throughout migrations, they may be found on as many as 17% of checklists, up from 10% during the summer.

The head, body, and wings of Western Tanagers are bright orange, while the rest of the bird is black and yellow. Females are all yellow-green except for their red cheeks.

Range

The western half of North America is home to the breeding range of the Western Tanager. When they migrate, you may get a glimpse of them to the east and south of this area.

Central America and Mexico are great wintertime destinations.

Habitat & Food

Despite their vivid plumage, Western Tanagers prefer to remain out of sight in the treetops of open coniferous forests. In fact, over the past forty years, their population has grown.

During the summer, they eat mostly insects like grasshoppers and wasps, but in the autumn and winter, they switch to fruit.

Female Western Tanagers construct their cup-shaped nests from large twigs, roots, and smaller twigs in open spaces of trees. Soft grass, hair, pine needles, and other plant matter line the nest.

The average clutch size is four eggs, and the incubation period is about two weeks.

9. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a year-round resident of California; however, it is more common to see them around April and November due to their annual migrations.

During migrations, they may reach 11% of all checklists, up from 9% in the summer and winter.

The male American Goldfinch’s striking springtime yellow and black plumage makes him a popular bird. Females and males in the winter, are a darker brown color.

The American goldfinch is a common and widespread year-round resident of much of North America.

In contrast, those that spend the summer breeding in Canada and the Midwest head south for the winter.

Food & Habitat

American Goldfinches feed on thistles, sunflowers, and asters and can be seen in weedy fields and overgrown areas. Parks, suburbs, and private yards are other common places to find them.

The nests of American Goldfinches, which are typically found in shrubs, are constructed of rootlets and plant material that are woven together and fastened to the branch with spider webs.

It takes two weeks for the eggs to hatch and another two to two and a half weeks for the babies to fledge, and they hatch up to 7 eggs each time.

10. Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole

From March to September, California is home to breeding Hooded Orioles. Almost one in ten summer bucket lists includes them.

Male Hooded Orioles can be a range of colors from yellow to orange, but they always have black on their throats and backs.

The females and juveniles have more yellow bodies and grayer wings. Females are also devoid of the distinctive black facial markings seen on males.

Range

The Hooded Oriole is a species of bird native to the southern United States. It builds its nest by attaching palm fronds to a tree branch.

Many migrate to Mexico for the winter, while others choose to spend the entire year in the Gulf Coast region of Central America and Mexico.

Because of the abundant nectar feeders and fruit left out by birdwatchers, some Hooded Orioles have stopped migrating from southern US states.

They favor open, dry areas, particularly those with palm trees.

All over the place whistles and warbles make up the males’ song. Both sexes make sharp calls, but the females’ songs are simpler.

Hooded Oriole nests are hanging baskets woven from grass and plant material, and they are built at a height of about 20 feet from the ground.

11. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Western Meadowlarks are observable throughout the year in California, though they are more common in the southern part of the state from October through March.

Five percent of summer checklists and eleven percent of winter ones include them, respectively.

Western Meadowlarks are cheerful birds with sunny yellow underbellies and pleasant songs.

A member of the blackbird family, the Western Meadowlark is about the size of a Robin and is distinguished by its brown and white upperparts and a black V-shaped band across the bright yellow chest, which turns gray in the winter.

During the winter, Western Meadowlarks will travel south from their breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada. 

Habitat & Food

Western Meadowlarks are common in open areas with grass or a meadow, and they can often be seen perched on low objects.

They typically don’t hang out in the woods or among thick brush while they forage for food, and they do so either singly or in small groups.

The Western Meadowlark eats mostly insects but also some seeds. During the summer months, their diet consists primarily of insects, while during the winter months, it consists primarily of grain and seeds.

Western Meadowlarks create their nests in shallow holes dug into the ground in grassy areas. Soft stuff like grass and a roof made of grass or plant stalks might go atop it.

Read:  7 Types of Black Birds in California

12. Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

It is migration time when the most sightings of the yellow warbler occur in California, which is between April and October.

During migrations, they can make an appearance in as much as 21 percent of checklists, while in the summer, they show up in as much as 10 percent.

Male Yellow Warblers also have chestnut streaks on their breasts and are characterized by their small size and bright yellow coloration.

When compared to males, females and young adults have a distinct intelligence gap.

Range

Long-distance migration allows the Yellow Warbler to breed in Canada and the United States (except the southeastern states) before returning to South and Central America for the winter.

They only appear in the southeastern United States during migration.

Food

Yellow Warblers can be seen foraging for insects like midges, bugs, caterpillars, beetles, and wasps in thickets and on the edges of fields near wetlands and waterways.

The nest of a Yellow Warbler is a cup-shaped structure built in a small tree or shrub and lined with spider webs.

The inside is then stuffed with a softer material like plant down, feathers, or hair.

They can lay up to seven eggs, which take about a month to develop and another week or so before the chicks are ready to leave the nest.

13. Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

In the winter, seven percent of California bird checklists include the Cedar Waxwing. Even so, you can see them throughout the year.

Beautiful and friendly, Cedar Waxwings are primarily gray above and pale brown below. Their underside is a light shade of yellow, and their tails are a brighter shade of yellow.

In addition to having bright red tips on their wings, they also have a thin black mask over their eyes.

Range

The Cedar Waxwing is a North American bird that spends its summers in Canada and its winters in Mexico, the southern United States, and Central America.

You can find them all year round in the northern states of the United States.

Habitat & Food

The Cedar Waxwing is found in a wide variety of habitats, including woods, cities, berry bushes, grassland, and streams.

They rely primarily on fruit, though insects provide a summertime supplement.

Cedar Waxwings construct their nests in trees out of grass, twigs, hair, and plant material and line them with pine needles and soft grass.

A clutch of up to six eggs will take about 12 days to hatch and another 16 days or so before the young are ready to leave the nest.

14. Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson Warbler
Image Credit: Wikimedia

During the breeding season in California, Wilson’s Warblers are a common sight, and their numbers spike in May and September when they migrate north and south.

During migrations, they can make up to 25% of a checklist, while in the summer, they make up 13% of all checklists.

Male Wilson’s Warblers have a large black cap, while females have a smaller black cap.

Range 

Wilson’s Warblers are found throughout the United States during migration, but they are native to Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest.

The southern United States and Central America are their winter homes.

Wilson’s Warblers forage for insect larvae, insects, and spiders in thickets and along streams near forest margins.

Wilson’s warblers build their nests from a combination of leaves and sedges, and they place them in concealed areas of the ground close to trees or shrubs.

Woven together with soft grass and animal hair, this cup is made from various plant materials such as moss, bark, and grass. 

They produce a brood of about five young, which take around eleven days to hatch and another ten to fledge from the nest.

Conclusion

There you have it: a list of all 14 yellow birds that may be found within California.

By providing seeds, suet, or peanuts at bird feeders, many of these may be attracted.

Planting fruit-bearing shrubs and native plants or allowing a section of your garden to “run wild” can help you draw in more insects. 

This can seem like a little work, but if there’s one thing you can count on, it will be worth it when you notice a new feathered friend hopping about your yard.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to check this list the next time you see a little bird having yellow markings that you’re not sure where it belongs because you could have just found a new species.

FAQ

When a yellow bird comes to visit you, what does this mean?

Yellow birds are often used as symbols of happiness, optimism, zeal, and vibrancy. Additionally, they represent upcoming independence, riches, and authority.

What bird represents the loss of a loved one?

Vultures represent the loss of a loved one because they consume dead animals and are constantly surrounded by death. This metaphor often pertains to dreams, but it may also occur in the real world when vultures land on your roof.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.