Posted: October 19, 2020

The common yellowthroat is a tiny but loud bird that loves unruly vegetation, particularly in thick, marshy areas.

Photo by Julian Avery

Photo by Julian Avery

The best way to find these yellow and olive skulkers is to listen for the male's witchety witchety witchety call, given to attract females and mark territory boundaries. The male also has a contrasting black mask that sets him apart from inconspicuous females and all other species.

Common yellowthroats breed across the United States and Canada but move farther south for the winter. Some will migrate to the Gulf Coast states, and the rest travel farther to Mexico and Central America for the colder months.

As summer winds down, it's time to watch for species moving through as they shift to their winter ranges. Some species, like white-throated sparrows, move into urban areas where feeders will help sustain them, while others travel long distances to very different habitats in the tropics. Rose-breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings are some of my favorite to look out for.

--Julian Avery

Julian Avery is an assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. You can follow his wildlife photography on Instagram at @evolutionavery.