Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Yellow Warbler


The yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia) is a New World warbler species. Yellow warblers are the most widespread species in the diverse genus Setophaga, breeding in almost the whole of North America, the Caribbean, and down to northern South America.

Distribution And Habitat

The Yellow Warbler occurs throughout North America, Central America including the West Indies, and northern South America (Biaggi 1997, Raffaele and others 1998). It is a common resident throughout most of the West Indies, although it is uncommon in the northern Bahamas, rare on Providencia, and considered a vagrant on Saba (Raffaele and others 1998). In addition, some migrants that breed in North America occur in the Greater Antilles mostly from October to March (Raffaele and others 1998). It occurs commonly on Puerto Ricos south coast (Biaggi 1997), as well as on satellite islands such as Culebra (Wetmore 1917), Vieques (Gemmill 2015, Sorrié 1975, Wetmore 1916), and other mangrove and vegetated cays off the northeast, while it is uncommon in the north coast. It can be observed in Boquerón Nature Reserve in the municipality of Cabo Rojo (Oberle 2018). In the West Indies, this species inhabits mostly mangroves and coastal scrub (Raffaele and others 1998), as well as dry coastal forests, marshes, and lowland rivers (Oberle 2018). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 214 records within 92 hexagons or 19 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 92 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 21 percent (19) of the hexagons, probable in 30 percent (28), and possible in 49 percent (45) (see map). Yellow Warbler distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 275Yellow Warbler/Canario de Mangle

Yellow Warbler Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the Yellow Warbler breeds primarily from March to July (Raffaele and others 1998). It builds a cup-shaped nest made of fine grasses, cotton, and other soft plant material, usually placed in a bush or tree close to water (Biaggi 1997, Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeding season extends throughout the year with the most breeding activity from March to July (see chart). The breeding activity peaks in May at the onset of the rainy season, and it mostly takes place in the subtropical dry forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds primarily breeds on the coastal plain, mostly within the subtropical dry forest life zone (68 percent of the hexagons), and less commonly in the subtropical moist forest life zone (30 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the Yellow Warbler is described as stable in North America (Butcher and Niven 2007). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2017). The nests of Yellow Warblers are frequently parasitized by Shiny Cowbirds, which reduce warbler fl edging success (Wiley 1985). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Yellow Warbler has a protected habitat of 12 percent or 255 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where this species is known to breed (2200 km2).