Common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) - local seasonal appearance

Based on 163 observations in Seymour township, Northumberland county, southeast Ontario, 1999-2020.

The black mask and bright yellow throat are quite distinctive, but this bird is more often detected by its song as it perches within a cloak of fresh green leaves. It is known in our area largely in a short interval, from 04 May to 27 July, one of the shortest residence times of our breeding summer visitors. In just two years was it noted prior to 9 May. Thus this little bird may be present for just ten weeks or less each year. On 7 April 2005 I thought I heard the bird on the marsh beside the IXL Road, a good habitat, but in hindsight I have excluded this date from the record. Three late dates are recorded: 28 August 2015 and 02 and 09 September 2016. Locally it may be seen along swamplands and waterways, as between locks 8 and 9 of the Trent canal, and along Trout Creek. It occurs along the north shore sof the southern Great Lakes at the usual refuges of spring migrants, such as Point Pelee, Rondeau and Selkirk on Lake Erie, and Toronto Island, Presqu'ile and Prince Edward Point on Lake Ontario.

At Presqu'ile provincial park, roughly 40 km to the south, this warbler is a common summer resident, arriving as early as 29 April and departing, on average, in mid-October (LaForest, 1993, pp.333-334). On five occasions it was even detected into December, even as late as 30 December. In Peterborough county, to the northwest, the yellowthroat is very common in swamps and marshes (Sadler, 1983, p.141). The common yellowthroat was considered, in the first breeding bird survey of Ontario, to be the most abundant of all warbler species in the province (Cadman et al., 1987, pp.416-417). The species is an abundant summer resident across much of North America and one of the most widely distributed summer bird species across Ontario (Cadman et al., 2007, pp.522-523).

On a wider scale, the common yellowthroat has a lively life beyond Canada! It winters south through the USA and Mexico to the West Indies, and is also found in all 7 Central American countries. The yellowthroat is one of 64 kinds of warbler found in Central America (Vallely and Dyer, 2018).

View the complete 22-year (1999-2020) monthly data summary (232 kb pdf file).


Cadman,MD, Eagles,PFJ and Helleiner,FM (1987) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists and Long Point Bird Observatory, published by University of Waterloo Press, 617pp.

Cadman,MD, Sutherland,DA, Beck,GG, Lepage,D and Couturier,AR (editors) (2007) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature, 706pp.

LaForest,SM (1993) Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Friends of Presqu'ile Park / Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 436pp.

Sadler,D (1983) Our Heritage of Birds: Peterborough County in the Kawarthas. Peterborough Field Naturalists / Orchid Press, Peterborough, ON, 192pp.

Vallely,AC and Dyer,D (2018) Birds of Central America. Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Princeton University Press, 584pp., pp.482-505.

Graham Wilson, posted 22 May 2014, updated 25-26 April 2021

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