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Whether or not you’d like to admit it, yellow-headed birds are sure to catch the eye with their brightly colored accents. In this article, we’ll give you some information on these beauties, where they live, what they eat, their migration and breeding patterns, and so much more. Keep in mind that the majority of these are based in North America but may be found elsewhere as well. Here are 19 birds with yellow heads—don’t forget to write down your favorites!
|Scientific name||Setophaga tigrina|
The Cape May Warbler has a striped pattern, with yellow as the predominant hue. Males may have a deep reddish-brown accent near the eye area. Their living regions span wider than the majority of other birds listed here, as they can be found from Alaska all the way down to the bottom of Central America. However, their numbers are in decline. Cape May Warblers eat insects that can be found on leafy vegetation and often dwell in forests.
|Scientific name||Setophaga petechia|
Like the Cap May Warbler, the Yellow Warbler has a wide habitat zone. However, this bright-colored, little bird can live in the Arctic regions of Alaska or the heat of Colombia or Venezuela as well. However, the colder areas are home to this species’ breeding ground, whereas the South American tropics hold non-breeding warblers. They survive in open woodlands, feeding on insects and building their homes in low-lying vegetation.
|Scientific name||Spinus tristus|
One of the most common yellow-headed birds in the contiguous United States is the American Goldfinch, which can be seen at feeders grabbing their preferred grub—seeds. Male goldfinches are exceptionally saturated in color, having a fully yellow body with a black cap along the top of their eyes and beak, which may become more yellow in breeding periods. Females still have this yellow color, but it stops around the neckline.
|Scientific name||Setophaga chrysoparia|
While the Golden-Cheeked Warbler isn’t yellow all around, they do have a radial area near the eyes that exhibits extravagant yellow hues. The rest of their plumage is a mix of black and white, with females being a lighter, grayer tone.
This species has a limited habitat range, spanning from the center of Texas through a narrow slice of Mexico and to the northern border of Nicaragua. Due to many reasons, the Golden-Cheeked Warbler is at serious risk in terms of its population stability.
|Scientific name||Vermivora chrysoptera|
With yellow-tipped wings and heads, the body of a Golden-Winged Warbler is quite small, but they have a sizable beak to accommodate their insect-based diet. They’re found throughout the Eastern United States, Eastern Mexico, and even parts of Ecuador. The problem is that the number of these species has dramatically decreased, so they can be difficult to find. Food-wise, they prefer insects like beetles or worms, so they usually forage in leafy shrubs.
|Scientific name||Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus|
A more common bird that ranges from British Columbia to the Central and Midwestern US to Mexico is the Yellow-Headed Blackbird. As per the name, this feathered friend has a black coat complemented by a yellow top. Female blackbirds have less yellow on their heads but a lighter black body. They congregate around wetlands or ponds, feeding on insects that scurry on the ground.
|Scientific name||Sturnella magna|
In the east of North America and north of South America, you may be able to find the Eastern Meadowlark if you’re lucky, as the species is lower than usual in numbers. Their livelihood is surrounded by grasslands where they can easily cover themselves and search for their favorite creepy crawlies to eat. They do have reasonably long legs to help them perch, as well as a long, sharp beak. Their plumage is mostly brown, but the front of their face and breast area is covered in a golden yellow hue.
|Scientific name||Sturnella neglecta|
Contrary to its eastern cousin, the Western Meadowlark is found from the Central United States to the West Coast, as well as Southwestern Canada and some regions of Mexico. They are strikingly similar in their colors, body patterns, habitats, and diets, so it can be challenging to differentiate the two.
|Scientific name||Dolichonyx oryzivorus|
The Bobolink may have an odd name compared to others here, but it might have the most spectacular endurance skills of any bird we’ll have on this list. They can be seen flying from Southwestern Canada to the northern portions of Argentina—a distance that well exceeds 10,000 miles during migration. Male Bobolinks have a pale yellow head, which only covers the back of their skulls. Female Bobolinks, on the other hand, have a more colorful front with some brown mixed in.
|Scientific name||Icterus cucullatus|
Hooded Orioles are predominantly found in the Southwestern United States and Mexico among woodland biomes. Male orioles have black wings entangled with a deep orange body and head, along with some bright yellow mixed with those orange hues. However, females have a full array of yellows across the board with brown wings. They are foliage cleaners, so you may find them scouring leafy vegetation for insects.
|Scientific name||Icterus bullockii|
Orange, yellow, black, white, and gray are the primary colors of the Bullock’s Oriole, but orange is the most obvious of these, especially in males. Yellow can be seen as a byproduct of the head, belly, and tail. They breed in the Western US (as well as a small part of British Columbia) and migrate down to Central Mexico for the off-season. These birds are fond of insects but may resort to fruits or nectar if they please.
|Scientific name||Icterus pectoralis|
When it comes to the Spot-Breasted Oriole, the younger flocks tend to be the most yellow with their feathers, becoming a saturated orange once fully matured. They can be somewhat tame around humans, as they are found in towns and suburban areas of Florida, Mexico, and Central America. This type of oriole is an herbivore, admiring fruits and berries in lush, tropical climates. Unlike the other orioles mentioned, this variant is physically similar in both males and females.
|Scientific name||Icterus spurius|
Male Orchard Orioles have no yellow whatsoever in their appearance. However, females have brilliant yellow heads and bellies in addition to grayish wings. The Orchard Oriole resides in open wooded grounds with a taste for bugs that they can find from foliage. You might be able to bring them closer with a hummingbird nectar feeder. Mostly breeding in the central, eastern, and southern states, this species migrates towards the equator to countries in the Central and South Americas.
|Scientific name||Cardellina pusilla|
A female Wilson’s Warbler is pretty much entirely yellow, but males have a black cap on their head for easy identification. They’re a common bird, but their numbers are declining although they can be found in nearly every corner of North America. Despite their small size, Wilson’s Warblers are carnivorous in nature, eating insects or bugs and nesting below trees. Migrations can span from the Arctic Circle down to the equator.
|Scientific name||Setophaga citrina|
The next warbler on the yellow-headed bird spectrum is the Hooded Warbler. These tiny birds can be found in the Southeastern United States and Central America but may also be island dwellers in Jamaica, Cuba, or Puerto Rico. They are like other warblers, eating mainly bugs, but this type lives in denser forests—nesting in bushes for protection from the elements.
Since they are on the move, it’s difficult to see them in your backyard. However, you can try to set up some bushes or shrubs to give them adequate feeding grounds.
|Scientific name||Geothlypis formosa|
The Kentucky Warbler has a nice yellow plumage, but they do have a distinct gray hood to make them stand out. Thin legs give them agility, and they can be found in warmer climates, such as Central America, Mexico, or the Southern US. Unfortunately, the population for this species is declining, so they are a rarer sight to see. Their diet consists mainly of tiny bugs found on the forest floor.
|Scientific name||Helmitheros vermivorum|
This species of warbler can be found in roughly the same geographical locations that you’d expect a Kentucky Warbler to live. Compared to other birds on this list, the Worm-Eating Warbler has a pale yellow hue. It does have a slightly downward-facing beak too, giving it an interesting look. Their wings are actually a faded green color, which is rare for most birds. The sharp bill of this bird makes it easy for them to forage for insects under leaves.
|Scientific name||Vireo griseus|
Although the White-Eyed Vireo only has a portion of yellow around the eyes, they do have a vivid tone, and the rest of their body has a good chunk of this color. Their most distinctive trait is their white eye, which has a peculiar expression. The species can be found in the Eastern and Southern US, in addition to equatorial nations.
They frequently sing, especially males, and they can be seen searching for their meals at almost any time of day. However, they are a bit elusive.
|Scientific name||Setophaga fusca|
The burst of warm colors displayed by a Blackburnian Warbler is an awe-inspiring thing to watch, as males have extremely deep hues of orange and yellow on their heads. Yet, females or younglings of this kind catch more of the light yellow shades, which are complemented by brown and white wings. The Blackburnian Warbler can be found migrating or breeding in the Central, Eastern, and Southern US, while it has its off-season in the northern nations of South America.
Birds with yellow heads are a brilliant sight to see, and they stand out from other critters in a unique way. Even though our list wasn’t in any particular order, there is definitely a fair share of warblers and orioles, along with a few more feathered friends. We hope you learned a thing or two about these golden wildlife icons. They are beautiful and can be found plentifully across North and South America!
Featured Image Credit: FotoRequest, Shutterstock
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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