Yellow and Black Birds – photo and ID guide

scotts oriole

Black and yellow birds are common, especially in spring and summer when migratory warblers and orioles are around.

Find out all about black and yellow birds to help identify them. These bright and cheery birds can be seen at backyard feeders or out in the fields and forests.

There are many black and yellow birds that visit the US and Canada and some migrate and others stay all year.

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So read on to identify those you have spotted.

23 Common Black and Yellow Birds:

  1. American Goldfinch
  2. Common Yellowthroat
  3. Western Meadowlark
  4. Lesser Goldfinch
  5. Prairie Warbler
  6. Orchard Oriole Female
  7. Western Tanager
  8. Pine Warbler
  9. Yellow Warbler
  10. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  11. White-eyed Vireo
  12. Eastern Meadowlark
  13. Yellow-throated Warbler
  14. Evening Grosbeak
  15. Scott’s Oriole
  16. Hooded Oriole
  17. Wilson’s Warbler
  18. Hooded Warbler
  19. Black-throated Green Warbler
  20. Canada Warbler
  21. Magnolia Warbler
  22. Altamira Oriole
  23. Audubon’s Oriole

1. American Goldfinch

American goldfinch male

American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males bright yellow and black coloring in spring.  The females are more dull brown as are males in winter.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)

American Goldfinches can be found in most of North America. They breed in Canada and the Mid-West and Canada before migrating to southern states, they remain all year in the rest of the U.S.

They can be found in weedy fields and overgrown areas foraging for sunflower, thistle, and aster plants. They are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.

To attract more American Goldfinches to your backyard try planting thistles and milkweed.  They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed. 

2. Common Yellowthroat

common yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails.  The males have a black mask across the face.  The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically and they may be more olive in parts underneath.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (9-10 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.5 in (15-19 cm)

Common Yellowthroats spend the summer breeding over most of North America, except Alaska and northern Canada. Some remain all year along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Southwest.

They can be found in the spring and summer often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. 

They eat mostly insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.

3. Western Meadowlark

western meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks with their bright yellow bellies and melodious song can brighten up your day.  This is probably what makes them so popular, so popular in fact that they are the state bird of 6 states.

Western Meadowlarks are related to blackbirds and are about the size of a Robin with shades of brown and white upperparts and with a black V-shaped band across the bright yellow chest that turns gray in winter.

  • Length: 6.3-10.2 in (16-26 cm)
  • Weight: 3.1-4.1 oz (89-115 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.1 in (41 cm)

Breeding in northern U.S and Canada before moving to more southern states.  Those in the west and midwest remain all year.

Western Meadowlarks can be found foraging for insects and seeds from weeds and seeds, on the ground alone or in small flocks in grasslands, meadows, and fields.

4. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch male

Lesser Goldfinches are tiny bright yellow and black songbirds with long pointed wings and short notched tails. Females have olive backs and are more dull yellow underneath.

  • Length: 3.5-4.3 in (9-11 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-11.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.9-7.9 in (15-20 cm)

Lesser Goldfinches live in the Southwest and Westcoast all year, but some may move down from higher elevations in winter.

Lesser Goldfinches can be found in large flocks in open habitats including thickets, weedy fields, forest clearings parks, and gardens. They forage for seeds, especially sunflower seeds, but also fruits from elderberry, coffeeberry, and buds from cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, and alders.

You can attract more Lesser Goldfinches to your yard with sunflower seeds and nyjer in tube feeders or platform feeders.

5. Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor)

These small songbirds are olive green on the back and yellow on the throat and belly. They have black streaks on the sides and a dark semicircle under the eye. Female Prairie Warblers are duller in color.

  • Length: 4.3 in (11 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2-0.3 oz (6.4-8.8 g)

They breed over the eastern and southeastern states and spend the winter in Florida and the Caribbean and some coastal areas in Central America.

Those in Florida that remain all year are considered to be separate subspecies and are slightly larger.

Although called prairie warblers they actually live in fields and forests

6. Orchard Oriole Female

orchard oriole female

Orchard Orioles females are greenish-yellow overall, paler underneath and darker on the back, with darker wings and white wingbars. Males look very different with black heads and backs and with reddish undersides.

  • Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.0 oz (16-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8 in (25 cm)

Orchard Orioles breed in central and eastern states in summer, before migrating south to Mexico and Central America. 

Preferring open woodland, Orchard Orioles can also be found along river banks and open shrubland and farms as well as backyards. They build hanging pouch-like nests.

Their diet is mostly insects such as ants, caterpillars, beetles, and grasshoppers, as well as spiders. they will also drink nectar from flowers and eat fruit such as mulberries and chokeberries.

To attract Orchard Orioles to your yard try hummingbird feeders or platform feeders with cut oranges or mango.  Also, plant native berry plants such as mulberries or chokeberries.

7. Western Tanager

western tanager

Western Tanagers have a flaming orange-red head, yellow body, and black wings. 

  • Length: 6.3-7.5 in (16-19 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.3 oz (24-36 g)

They breed in western US states and into Canada. They can be seen during migration in the east and south of this range. Winter is spent in Mexico and Central America.

They live in open conifer forests but stay hidden in the canopy, despite their bright coloring. The red coloring probably comes from eating insects that produce a pigment that the Western Tanagers cannot produce themselves.

You can attract Western Tanagers with dried fruit, cut oranges, and other fruits from bird feeders.

8. Pine Warbler

Pine Warblers are small plump yellow birds with olive backs, white lower bellies, and gray wingbars.  Females can appear browner and have more white on the belly.

  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-15 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)

They breed in Northeastern US states before heading south. Some remain all year in Southeastern US states.

Pine Warblers can be found in pine forests, as their name would suggest, often high up in the trees. They eat caterpillars, beetles, spiders, and other insects and larvae and when the weather is colder they will eat fruit and seeds.

You can attract more Pine Warblers with tube feeders and platform feeders with millet, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and suet.  Also plant native fruits and vines such as bayberry, grape, sumac, and Virginia creeper.

9. Yellow Warbler

yellow warbler

Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast, which are a common sight in summer. They have grayish-black streaks on the wings.

  • Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)

Yellow Warblers migrate a long distance to breed over much of North America before heading into Central and northern South America for winter.

They can be seen during migration in the far south.

Yellow Warblers can be found along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.

Warblers are hard to attract to your backyard as they are shy and eat mainly insects,  but you can try suet, oranges, and peanut butter. 

10. Yellow-headed Blackbird

yellow headed blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are striking birds with a glossy black body, bright yellow heads and chests, and white patches on the wings in males. Females are brown instead of black and the yellow head is duller. They are larger than the Red-winged Blackbird.

  • Length: 8.3-10.2 in (21-26 cm)
  • Weight: 1.6-3.5 oz (44-100 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.5-17.3 in (42-44 cm)

Breeding in western and prairie wetlands, nesting in the reeds, and foraging over surrounding wetlands, grasslands, and fields for mostly insects in the summer.

They migrate to fields and farmland in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico for the winter to feed predominantly on seeds in large flocks.

You can attract more Yellow-headed Blackbirds to your yard with sunflower seeds.

11. White-eyed Vireo

A small songbird in gray and yellow tones. White-eyed Vireos have a gray head, white chest and throat and yellow sides with darker wings and two white wingbars with black streaking.

They have yellow across the eyes and forehead and a white eye.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (10-14 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.7 in (17 cm)

Spending the summer across the southeastern United States, hidden in thickets out of sight. They winter along the southeastern coast, Mexico and the Caribbean.

White-eyed Vireos feed on insects, flies and spiders found in overgrown pastures and brambles.

12. Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern meadowlark

A medium-sized songbird that are bright yellow underneath and pale brown with black marks on the back. They have a distinctive black band across the chest.

  • Length: 7.5-10.2 in (19-26 cm)
  • Weight: 3.2-5.3 oz (90-150 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.8-15.8 in (35-40 cm)

Found all year across eastern US states, but they will also breed in the northeast and into Canada before migrating south.

They can be found in grasslands and prairies eating insects. In winter they gather in large flocks in fields looking for seeds.

13. Yellow-throated Warbler

Similar in appearance to the Common Yellowthroat, the Yellow-throated Warbler has a gray and white body with black stripes rather than a brown body.

  • Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)

Yellow-throated Warblers breed across the southeastern states and spend winter in Florida, the Caribbean and along the Gulf Coast into Central America. Some birds may remain resident all year in Florida.

They spend their time at the top of pine trees but may forage lower down during migration.

14. Evening Grosbeak

Male Evening Grosbeak, Coccothraustes vespertinus, in tree

Evening Grosbeak males are yellow and black with a white patch on the wings. Females and immature males are mostly gray.

  • Length: 6.3-7.1 in (16-18 cm)
  • Weight: 1.9-2.6 oz (53-74 g)
  • Wingspan: 11.8-14.2 in (30-36 cm)

They live all year in southern Canada and the Rocky Mountains in coniferous forests. They may move as far as southern US states if pine cone crops are scarce.

Evening Grosbeaks may turn up in winter at sunflower seed feeders if pine cone crops are bad. 

15. Scott’s Oriole

scotts oriole

A large distinctive oriole with a bright yellow underside and black head and back in the males. Females are a paler yellow with olive-brown backs.

  • Length: 9.1 in (23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz (32-41 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6 in (32 cm)

Scott’s Orioles breed in southwestern US states and can be found in arid areas feeding on insects in yuccas.

16. Hooded Oriole

Hooded oriole

Male Hooded Orioles range from bright yellow to bright orange, with black throats and backs. Females and immatures are more yellow with grayish wings. Females lack the black face markings.

  • Length: 7.1-7.9 in (18-20 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8 oz (24 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.1-11.0 in (23-28 cm)

They breed in the southwestern US states, making hanging nests on the undersides of palm fronds.

They will come to nectar feeders or use fruit to attract orioles.

17. Wilson’s Warbler

wilsons warbler

Wilson’s Warblers are small yellow warblers with a black cap in the males and an olive cap in females.

  • Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2-0.3 oz (5-10 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)

Breeding in Canada, Alaska and northwestern states, Wilson’s Warblers can also be seen across all states during migration. They winter in Mexico and Central America.

To find Wilson’s Warblers look along streams in thickets.

18. Hooded Warbler

Hooded warbler

Male Hooded Warblers have a bright yellow face with a distinctive black hood and throat. They are yellow underneath and olive-green above.

Females and immature are more yellow and without the black face markings.

  • Length: 5.1 in (13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (9-12 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.9 in (17.5 cm)

They breed in eastern states before heading south into Central America and the Caribbean for winter.

Forests with dense understories to hunt for insects are the best place to find Hooded Warblers.

19. Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green warbler (Setophaga virens)

A small yellow songbird with a yellow face and head and olive-yellow back. They have black streaking on the sides and wings and are whitish underneath.

  • Length: 4.3-4.7 in (11-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm)

Black-throated Green Warblers can mostly be seen during their long migration over the Eastern US up to their breeding grounds in Northeastern US states and Canada.

They live high up in forests eating insects and their black throat is an easier way to tell them apart from other small yellow birds.

20. Canada Warbler

canada warbler

Canada Warblers are similar in appearance to the Magnolia Warbler and have a similar range. However, they are grayish-black on the back and the black ‘necklace’ does not extend over the belly, in the males, only over the chest.

Females and immatures are similar but paler on the back and with a less prominent ‘necklace’

  • Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-13 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.7-8.7 in (17-22 cm)

Canada Warblers breed in Canada and northeastern US states but they can also be seen during migration across the eastern half of the US.

They live in mossy forests and forage for insects. They are difficult to find as their numbers have been declining.

21. Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warblers males are black on the back and yellow underneath. They have black streaking from a ‘necklace’ on their necks down over their bellies. Females are grayer on the back and lack the distinctive streaking down the belly.

  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in (11-13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.2-0.5 oz (6-15 g)
  • Wingspan: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)

Magnolia Warblers breed across Canada and Northeastern US states in forests. They can be seen during migration in the Eastern US.

They spend the winter in Central America and the Caribbean.

Although they do not visit feeders you can help provide a habitat for insects, which they feed on, by planting native trees and shrubs.

22. Altamira Oriole

Altamira Oriole

Altamira Orioles are bright yellowish-orange with black backs, wings and tails. They also have black around the eyes and down the throat. Juveniles are more yellow and have olive backs rather than black.

  • Length: 8.3-9.8 in (21-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.7-2.3 oz (47-64 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)

Altamira Orioles are rare in the US except in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas and they remain year-round.

Look for them in backyards at sunflower or nectar feeders or in wildlife refuges in southeastern Texas and along the Gulf Coast of Central America. 

Try to look for their amazing hanging nests that measure up to 2 feet long.

23. Audubon’s Oriole

Audubons Oriole

A bright yellow and black oriole with black wings and tail and a black head and throat. Males and females are similar.

  • Length: 7.5-9.4 in (19-24 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.9 oz (31-53 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6 in (32 cm)

They have a small range and do not migrate. Audubon’s Orioles live in southeastern Texas and Mexico.

Audubon’s Orioles can be found in wooded areas or thickets and they will come to backyards for sunflower seeds and nectar feeders. They can be hard to see as they are shy and forage for insects and fruit in thick vegetation.

The nests of Audubon’s Orioles are often the favored new homes for cowbird eggs.