27 Types Of SMALL YELLOW Birds (ID Guide With Photos)

Did you recently come across a small yellow bird in your backyard, and want to know what species it was?

Identifying small yellow birds is not as easy as it might seem, since there are many types of small birds in North America that are either entirely or partially yellow.

To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover the most common small yellow birds you should know in this article.

Types of small yellow birds

What are the types of small yellow birds in North America?

There are 27 types of small yellow birds in North America, which are covered in full detail below.

American Goldfinch

Scientific name: Spinus tristis

Photo of American Goldfinch adult male

The American Goldfinch can be found in the northern United States year-round but is most active in suburban areas during the summer months. 

The male American Goldfinch is a dazzling, bright yellow color with black wings and tails, as well as a black forehead.

These small yellow birds are common throughout the northern US

Their wings are black and decorated with white markings. The females are a bit quite different though, having a primary olive color and yellow bellies that are a lot duller than the male’s. 

The American Goldfinch is usually found in weedy fields and floodplains, but can also be found in orchards, roadsides, and backyards.

These birds generally like to eat seeds and grains, and are readily attracted to bird feeders that offer black oil sunflower seeds.

Yellow Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga petechia

Photo of Yellow Warbler adult male

Also known as the American Yellow Warbler, this small songbird lives up to its name.

Adult males have a brilliant yellow color, except for their wings, which are just slightly darker and have two pale wingbars.

They also have reddish stripes on their yellow breast and sides. Adult females are very similar to the males, but have less streaking and are thus more uniformly yellow.

This small yellow bird is present as a breeding species in northern North America from April through August, and spends the rest of the year in Central America and northern South America.

Prothonotary Warbler

Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea 

Photo of Prothonotary Warbler

A bright yellow bird, the Prothonotary Warbler is a summer visitor in the eastern half of the US, and spends the winter at the Gulf Coast and in Central and South America.

The male Prothonotary Warbler is a lemon color with gray-blue wings and tail, as well as black eyes.

If you were to look at this small yellow bird from underneath, you would see its white underside. The females are very similar to the males, but are more often than not slightly paler. 

Their diet mainly consists of snails and insects you’d find in swampy areas.

Wilson’s Warbler

Scientific name: Cardellina pusilla

Photo of Wilson's Warbler adult male

Wilson’s Warbler is a small yellow bird with olive colored upperparts and buff green underparts. Adult male birds also have a black crown.

This little bird is primarily a breeding bird of Canada, and is spotted in the US as a visitor during spring and fall migration.

This bird prefers damp woodlands with dense shrubs, where it forages for insects and other invertebrates.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga coronata

Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler

While the sexes of the Yellow-rumped Warbler are dissimilar, they both have a yellow rump. 

These little warblers have blueish-gray upperparts with dark streaks, as well as a golden rump and flanks.

This bird is a summer visitor in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, where it can be seen from May through August.

Common Yellowthroat

Scientific name: Geothlypis trichas

Photo of Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat is a brightly colored small warbler. Adult males have a bright yellow throat and breast, as well as a broad black band across their face, which covers the forehead and cheeks.

Their black face mask is bordered on top by a grayish white band, which transitions into the olive brown nape and back. Females are similar, but lack the black face mask.

It is a migratory bird that spends the winter in the southern United States and Central America. This bird prefers shrubland and grassy habitats, and feeds on insects and other invertebrates.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Scientific name: Icteria virens

Photo of Yellow-breasted Chat

These birds are small in size (not much bigger than a sparrow). They are an olive-green color with bright yellow plumage on the breast, a gray face, and a distinct white eyebrow stripe.

Yellow-breasted Chats can be found throughout most of the United States during the months of May through August. 

The diet of this bird consists of insects, such as moths, beetles, ants, and grasshoppers. They also eat berries such as wild grapes and elderberries.

Evening Grosbeak

Scientific name: Coccothraustes vespertinus

Photo of Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak is a large finch with a massive bill that makes it easy to recognize this bird.

Adult males have a bright golden forehead, mantle, and bright yellow undersides. Females and immatures are mostly yellow gray.

These little yellow birds form flocks in winter, and are common visitors at bird feeders in the cold months.

Eastern Meadowlark

Scientific name: Sturnella magna

Photo of Eastern Meadowlark adult male

This colorful bird spends most of its time foraging on the ground.

The Eastern Meadowlark, like other American lark species, has a short tail and a conical beak that is ideally adapted for gathering seeds and insects on the ground.

The upperparts of adult Eastern Meadowlarks are light brown with black markings, while the underparts are brilliant lemon, with a jet black V on the chest.

Western Meadowlark

Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta

Photo of Western Meadowlark adult male

The Western Meadowlark closely resembles the Eastern Meadowlark, but is found in more western areas of North America.

Although the two meadowlark species closely resemble each other, and their ranges overlap considerably, they almost never form hybrids.

Combined with its striking black and golden coloration, this makes the Western Meadowlark a pure joy to observe.

Canada Warbler

Scientific name: Cardellina canadensis

Photo of Canada Warbler adult male

The Canada Warbler is a vibrant small songbird that may be found as a breeding bird in Canada and northern states of the eastern USA.

The sexes look different, but both have blue-gray upperparts and bright yellow belly. Adult males also have a band of dark streaks that divides the throat from the breast.

This bird favors damp forests with plenty of undergrowth, and is often found near water. It winters in South America.

Pine Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga pinus

Photo of Pine Warbler

The Pine Warbler is almost always found in the vicinity of pine trees, which explains how it got its name.

Adult males have olive colored upperparts, as well as a vibrant golden head and underparts, except for a white belly. The females are more grayish buff.

This bird winters in the southeast USA, and forages in the underground of pine forests, which makes it relatively easy to observe.

Magnolia Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga magnolia

Photo of Magnolia Warbler adult male

Adult males of this colorful bird have dark upperparts and bright yellow underparts with a black chest band and dark streaks on the flanks.

The crown is blueish gray, and is separated from the light throat by a black mask. Females look similar, but lack the areas of black plumage.

This bird may be seen as a breeding species in North America from the end of May through the month of August.

Nashville Warbler

Scientific name: Oreothlypis ruficapilla

Photo of Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warblers are beautiful yellow and grey birds. Adult males have an olive gray back, a blue gray head, and bright saffron underparts. 

Generally speaking, the Nashville Warbler is found as a breeding bird in Canada and the northern US during the months of May through August.

Similar to many other warblers, it migrates to Central America in order to spend the winter. It favors the tangled undergrowth of mixed forests.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Scientific name: Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

Photo of Yellow-headed Blackbird adult male

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are more common in western North America, but also occur regularly as visitors outside of their range.

Adult males stand out thanks to their distinctive bright yellow chest and head, paired with a jet black body.

During the summer months, these birds feed mostly on insects and other invertebrates. Typically, these birds breed in lowland areas with wetlands and dense growth of cattails. 

Yellow-throated Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo flavifrons

Photo of Yellow-throated Vireo

The Yellow-throated Vireo is a brightly colored songbird with a thick beak, and a head that is disproportionately large.

Both sexes look similar and have greenish yellow upperparts and face, eyebrow stripe, throat, and breast. Their dark wings have two white wingbars. 

This small yellow bird favors dense forests, and is hard to observe as it usually forages in the tree tops. This bird migrates to Central America to spend the winter.

White-eyed Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo griseus

Photo of White-eyed Vireo

The White-eyed Vireo is a small bird with grayish brown upperparts and paler yellow flanks that looks superficially similar to a Summer Tanager female.

A great feature to identify this bird is by its pale iris, which distinguishes it from many other similar birds.

The White-eyed Vireo is a summer visitor in the southeastern United States. It breeds in deciduous forests, and feeds on insects and other invertebrates.

Blue-winged Warbler

Scientific name: Vermivora cyanoptera

Photo of Blue-winged Warbler

This is a colorful little wood warbler. Adult males can be recognized by their mainly yellow underparts and head, as well as their olive back and nape.

Their blue gray wings have two subtle white wingbars, while the head has a thin black stripe between the eye and the beak.

The Blue-winged Warbler occurs as a breeding bird in the northeastern US during the months of May through August.

Townsend’s Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga townsendi

Photo of Townsend's Warbler

The Townsend’s Warbler is a beautiful little songbird.

Adult males have contrasting black and yellow patches on their heads, as well as a black chest and golden underparts with dark streaks.

This is a breeding bird of the Pacific Northwest, and occurs in more southern and eastern states as a rare vagrant during spring and fall migration.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga virens

Photo of Black-throated Green Warbler

Similar to the Townsend’s Warbler, the Black-throated Green Warbler is also a colorful little warbler.

Adult males have olive green backs, bright yellow heads and chests, and a black throat and chest. The underparts are buff white with dark streaks in the flanks. Females look similar, but don’t have a black throat.

This bird favors mixed and coniferous forests, and migrates to the Caribbean to spend its winter.

Cape May Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga tigrina

Photo of Cape May Warbler

The Cape May Warbler is a northern species that breeds in eastern Canada, but also occurs in the northern parts of Michigan.

Adult males have a streaked olive green back, white their face is yellow with chestnut cheeks. Their underparts are saffron colored with dark streaks.

During the months of May through August, the Cape May Warbler may be seen nesting in the wooded northern region of North America.

During migration, however, this bird can be seen in southern parts of the state as well. It winters in the Caribbean area.

Mourning Warbler

Scientific name: Geothlypis philadelphia

Photo of Mourning Warbler adult male

The Mourning Warbler is a colorful ground-dwelling warbler. Adult males have a dull yellow body, while their underparts are bright saffron.

This bird is a breeding visitor in the northern US and Canada from June through August, and migrates to Central America to spend the winter.

This bird favors shrubland and dense thickets, but is very secretive, and hence hard to observe.

Hooded Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga citrina

Photo of Hooded Warbler adult male

These brightly colored birds are summer visitors in the eastern United States, where they can be seen from May to September.

The Male has a striking black-and-yellow head, while its back is olive green.

Females and immatures are similar to males, but lack the black areas on their head. These small yellow birds don’t visit bird feeders, and are most often spotted in backyards during migration.

These birds prefer forests with dense undergrowth, and winter in Mexico and Central America.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Scientific name: Myiarchus crinitus

Photo of Great Crested Flycatcher

The Great Crested Flycatcher is a slim, long-bodied flycatcher. Adults have a dark brown head and back, as well as yellowish underparts.

The Great Crested Flycatcher is a common species in the eastern half of the US during the summer, and it can be seen throughout the state from April through September. 

This bird nests in a wide variety of woodland habitats, and feeds on insects as well as berries. Its winter range extends from Central to South America.

What small birds are yellow and black?

The following 11 types of small birds are yellow and black:

  • American Goldfinch
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Hooded Warbler

As you can see, there are many small birds that are both yellow and black

But by far the most common of these are American Goldfinches, so if you spot a small yellow and black bird while bird watching, this is the first species that you should check for.

Final remarks

In summary, here are the 27 types of yellow birds that are small:

  • American Goldfinch
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Yellow-breasted Chat
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Western Meadowlark
  • Canada Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Blue-winged Warbler
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Cape May Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Great Crested Flycatcher

If you’ve spotted one of these birds, but aren’t sure which species it was, check our detailed ID guide with photos above.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our guide to the yellow colored birds found in Michigan.