Yellow-breasted Chat

Icteria virens
Yellow-breasted Chat specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (7 inches), strangely-shaped wood warbler, the Yellow-breasted Chat is most easily identified by its large size, olive-green back, yellow breast and throat, and white eye-ring. Other field marks include a long tail, thick bill, and black legs. Male and female Yellow-breasted Chats are similar to one another in all seasons. The Yellow-breasted Chat breeds in the east-central United States and southern Canada from southern Ontario south to northern Florida and west to Texas. This species also breeds more locally in the western United States and Canada, particularly in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Utah. In winter, most Yellow-breasted Chats migrate south to the southern half of Mexico and Central America, although a small number winters in the southern U.S. Yellow-breasted Chats breed along the edges of deciduous or evergreen forests in areas with thickets or low shrubs. During the winter, this species inhabits similar areas along the edges of tropical forests. Yellow-breasted Chats primarily eat insects and other invertebrates, but may also eat fruits and berries when available, particularly during the winter. Due to this species’ preference for habitat with shrubs and other low vegetation, Yellow-breasted Chats are more often heard than seen. Birdwatchers may listen for this species’ song, a strange jumble of whistling notes interspersed with harsher calls, or may look for it moving through the vegetation while foraging for insect prey. Yellow-breasted Chats are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Common summer resident, frequenting bushy fields. Arrives late April, departs by late September; breeds mid-May to late June. Sexes are alike.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC65645 Icteria virens (Yellow-breasted Chat)

Icteria virens

Sound from xeno-canto. XC54783 Icteria virens (Yellow-breasted Chat)