Yellow Birds in Colorado – Picture and ID Guide

yellow warbler

Yellow birds are common in Colorado in spring and summer when the warblers arrive.

In winter, only the American Goldfinch is a commonly spotted yellow bird in Colorado. 

This guide will help you identify yellow birds in Colorado that you have spotted by giving you pictures, identification information and when they migrate in and out.

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I have listed these yellow birds in Colorado in order of which are most commonly spotted according to ebird checklists in spring and summer (May and June).

So read on to identify those yellow birds you have spotted.

Yellow Birds in Colorado in Spring/Summer:

  1. Western Meadowlark 29%
  2. Yellow Warbler 28%
  3. Yellow-rumped Warbler 25%
  4. Western Kingbird 22%
  5. American Goldfinch 20%
  6. Western Tanager 12%
  7. Lesser Goldfinch 10%
  8. Common Yellowthroat 8%
  9. Yellow-headed Blackbird 6%
  10. Orange-crowned Warbler 5%

Yellow Birds in Colorado in Winter:

  1. American Goldfinch 14%
  2. Western Meadowlark 4%

1. Western Meadowlark

western meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks remain all year in Colorado, but their number increase here in the summer.

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.

Breeding in northern US 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.

2. Yellow Warbler

yellow warbler

Yellow Warblers are common yellow birds in Colorado during the summer. They arrive in late April and May and leave in September.

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.

  • 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. 

3. Yellow-rumped Warbler

yellow rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are common in Colorado all year, but their numbers increase significantly during the spring and fall migration.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides, and rump and white in the wings. Females may be slightly brown and winter birds are paler brown with bright yellow rumps and sides turning bright yellow and gray again in spring.

After breeding predominantly in Canada, they migrate in large numbers south across most of the southern and central states and the Pacific Coast and throughout Mexico and Central America. 

  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz (12-13 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)

Yellow-rumped Warblers can be found in coniferous forests, especially during the breeding season. During winter, they can be found in open areas with fruiting shrubs. In summer, they eat primarily insects and on migration and in winter, they mostly fruit, including bayberry and wax myrtle. 

You can attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your backyard with sunflower seeds, suet, raisins, and peanut butter.

4. Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbirds are common yellow birds in Colorado during the summer when they migrate in to breed here between late April and October.

Western Kingbirds are large flycatchers with yellow bellies, whitish chests, gray heads, grayish-brown wings, and a darker tail.

  • Length: 7.9-9.4 in (20-24 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.6 oz (37-46 g)
  • Wingspan: 15.0-16.1 in (38-41 cm)

They breed in summer in western US states, the plains area and into Canada.

They are a familiar sight in summer before migrating to Mexico and Central America. Some may overwinter in the south of Florida.

They live in open habitats and perch on fences and utility lines, waiting for insects to fly by before catching them in mid-flight.

They can often be found near the edge of woodlands so they can nest in the trees and forage in the open. They also nest in human-made structures.

You can attract more Western Kingbirds to your yard by making it insect-friendly and planting elderberry or hawthorn, which they will also eat the fruit from.

5. American Goldfinch

American goldfinch male

American Goldfinch are common yellow birds in Colorado all year.

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 before migrating to southern states. They remain all year in the rest of the US.

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. 

6. Western Tanager

western tanager

Western Tanagers are common yellow birds in Colorado in the summer when they migrate in for breeding between May and October.

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.

7. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch male

Lesser Goldfinch are common yellow birds in Colorado all year. Their numbers increase here between late May and October.

Lesser Goldfinch 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.

8. Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats breed in Colorado and are most common here between late April and October. Some Common Yellowthroats remain in the state all year.

Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and with bright yellow breasts and with paler yellow bellies and 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 primarily insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.

9. Yellow-headed Blackbird

yellow headed blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbirds remain all year in Colorado, but they are most common in the summer between mid-March and mid-October.

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.

10. Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange Crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warblers breed in Colorado and arrive in April and May and stay until November. They are more common during the spring and fall migration.

Orange-crowned Warblers are not as brightly colored as other warblers with their yellow-olive coloring, which is more yellow on the Pacific Coast. The orange crown is rarely seen.

  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-11 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5 in (19 cm)

Breeding in Canada and western states before migrating to the Pacific, East and Gulf Coasts and Mexico. Orange-crowned Warblers can also be seen during migration across all states.

Orange-crowned Warblers can be found in shrubs and low vegetation and breed in open woodland.

Their diet consists mainly of insects and spiders such as spiders, caterpillars, and flies.  They will also eat fruit, berries, and seeds and regularly visit backyard feeders.

To attract more Orange-crowned Warblers to your yard, try suet and peanut butter or hummingbird feeders with sugar water nectar.

11. Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing remain all year in Colorado, but their number increase in the summer when more migrate in for breeding.

Cedar Waxwings are elegant social birds that are pale brown on the head, chest, and crest, which fades to gray on the back and wings and tail.

Their belly is pale yellow and there is bright yellow on the tip. They have a narrow black mask over their eyes and bright red on the wingtips.

  • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1 oz (32 g)
  • Wingspan: 8.7-11.8 in (22-30 cm)

Cedar Waxwings breed in Canada before heading to the southern US for winter. They are resident all year in Northern US states.

They make a high-pitched call and can be found in berry bushes, woodlands, and streams.

To attract Cedar Waxwings to your backyard, plant native trees and shrubs with small fruit such as serviceberry, dogwood, juniper, winterberry, and hawthorn. You can also try fruit on platform feeders.

12. Wilson’s Warbler

wilsons warbler

Wilson’s Warblers are yellow birds of Colorado in summer. They can be spotted here from April until mid-October. However, they are more common here during migration, especially during the fall in September.

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