Birds – Yellow Redpoll Warbler

(Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea) Wood Warbler family


Length—5.5 to 5.75 inches. A little smaller than the English sparrow.

Male and Female—Chestnut crown. Upper parts brownish olive; greenest on lower back. Underneath uniform bright yellow, streaked with chestnut on throat, breast, and sides. Yellow line over and around the eye. Wings unmarked. Tail edged with olive-green; a few white spots near tips of outer quills. More brownish above in autumn, and with a grayish wash over the yellow under parts.

Range—Eastern parts of North America. Nests from Nova Scotia northward. Winters in the Gulf States.

Migrations—April. October. Spring and autumn migrant.

While the uniform yellow of this warbler’s under parts in any plumage is its distinguishing mark, it also has a flycatcher’s trait of constantly flirting its tail, that is at once an outlet for its superabundant vivacity and a fairly reliable aid to identification. The tail is jerked, wagged, and flirted like a baton in the hands of an inexperienced leader of an orchestra. One need not go to the woods to look for the restless little sprite that comes north-ward when the early April foliage is as yellow and green as its feathers. It prefers the fields and roadsides, and before there are leaves enough on the undergrowth to conceal it we may come to know it as well as it is possible to know any bird whose home life is passed so far away. Usually it is the first warbler one sees in the spring in New York and New England. With all the alertness of a flycatcher, it will dart into the air after insects that fly near the ground, keeping up a constant chip, chip, fine and shrill, at one end of the small body, and the liveliest sort of tail motions at the other. The pine warbler often bears it company.

With the first suspicion of warm weather, off goes this hardy little fellow that apparently loves the cold almost well enough to stay north all the year like its cousin, the myrtle warbler. It builds a particularly deep nest, of the usual warbler construction, on the ground, but its eggs are rosy rather than the bluish white of others.

In the Southern States the bird becomes particularly neighorly, and is said to enter the streets and gardens of towns with a chippy’s familiarity.

Palm Warbler or Redpoll Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) differs from the preceding chiefly in its slightly smaller size, the more grayish-brown tint in its olive upper parts, and the uneven shade of yellow underneath that varies from clear yellow to soiled whitish. It is the Western counterpart of the yellow redpoll, and is most common in the Mississippi Valley. Strangely enough, however, it is this warbler, and not hypochrysea, that goes out of its way to winter in Florida, where it is abundant all winter.