Common Yellowthroat

Scientific Name: Geothlypis trichas

Pictures: (click for larger images)

A male Common Yellowthroat perching and calling near the stream in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  I'm not sure why its beak is so light-colored, as I think it's usually black. 9/13/05
Okay, this may be the largest image file on this whole site, but you've GOT to check out the line of sight I had to this bird!  After following his movement from tree to tree, I had a split-second view of him through this miraculous tunnel in the leaves, and I had to use manual focus, but I pulled it off!  UCLA Botanical Garden, 9/12/05.
After days of staking out and stalking one or two Common Yellowthroats, I was in for quite the surprise.  A male decided he was okay with jumping out of the bamboo and onto this exposed branch, perhaps ten yards from where I was standing.  He posed and called for what seemed like both a mere second and a yawning eternity, as I fumbled with the camera.  UCLA Botanical Garden, 9/13/05.

This is a very typical stance.  The focus is a little lacking in these pictures, but they're they best I've been able to get for such an agoraphobic and nimble little bird. UCLA Botanical Garden, 9/13/05.

Here's a picture just to show you what the male Common Yellowthroat looks like head-on.  He's got some weird red-eye going on from the flash I used for this picture.  I HAVE seen females of this species, but it seems they're even more scarce and/or reclusive!  UCLA Botanical Garden, 9/13/05.

Don't just stand there,
let's get to it.
Strike a pose,
there's nothing to it.

UCLA Botanical Garden, 10/23/05

Common Yellowthroat Illustration.

-Photos by Jason Finley
-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Small. 5" in length (beak to tail), smaller than a sparrow.  Back is grayish olive green.  Breast and throat are yellow.  The males have a distinctive black mask, bordered with white, which the females lack (but they can have a whitish ring around their eye). 

Sound: "Song a musical "wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty, wich-i-ty." Call note a distinctive sharp "tchat.""  Listen to a Common Yellowthroat singing and calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Rare, but probably year-round.

Location: The UCLA Botanical Garden, and Stone Canyon Creek, behind the Anderson School. It prefers thick vegetation and being near water, so those two places provide both.

Notes: This is one that can be heard before seen usually.  It's a lively little bird, and will usually hop around in dense bushes and trees, but its call (deeper and harsher than that of, say, the Wilson's Warbler) can lead you to it.  I've seen it most in the Botanical Garden, near the stream in there.  It loves the tall, thick bamboo, and doesn't stay still for very long.  That said, the male's yellow breast and black mask are quite striking and will be immediately apparent if you get a good glimpse.   This was one of the most challenging birds to photograph.  I've also seen it it in trees and bushes with other birds, but that may be because it's just a bunch of birds stacked on top of each other there in the garden.  One time I ALMOST had a Yellowthroat in a position for a great photo-op, but then a House Wren popped out of the bushes and chased him off!


HistoricalDr. Loye Miller wrote about the "Tule Yellow-throat " as it was known back then:

After we had broken up its ancestral home in the tule patches of lower Stone Canyon, this cheerful bundle of energy was at a loss until the development of an artificial marshy spot in the Botany Garden.  In the nonbreeding season the birds sometimes come into the thicket and shrubbery about the buildings (October 11, November 17). [Note: The last exposed bit of the Stone Canyon Creek can still be seen behind the Anderson School on campus.]

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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