The Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica) is mainly a summer resident and breeder to the Eastern part of Texas and Eastern US, and one of the earliest migrants (note that it is a resident in the extreme South of Texas and Florida). Records in the Western part of the state are extremely rare with most records being East of San Antonio. It typically winters in Mexico and the Caribbean. Its migration is typically circum-gulf from Mexico or a short ocean flight from the Caribbean to Florida, these two paths being undertaken by different sub-species.
Typical habitats are forests of pine, sycamore, cypress and oak. This makes East Texas and the Big Thicket a prime location to find this species, in both swampy and dry forest uplands. In Winter it often frequents palm trees.
The Yellow-throated Warbler typically feeds on beetles, moths, grasshoppers, crickets and spiders, gleaning these from leaves and foliage. Often found hanging upside down peering under large tree limbs, it’s not unusual to see the same behavior on the eaves of houses in more suburban areas.
The Yellow-throated Warbler is a striking bird, large for a warbler (5 ¼”), with gray upperparts, a yellow throat (striking due to a black border), white neck patches and eyebrows and an almost triangular shaped black mask around the eye. Its wings are dark gray to black with two distinctive white wing-bars. The underparts are white with black streaks on the flanks. Note its tail is dark but has white corners. Very distinctive and this species is hard to confuse with any other. Flight is typically direct and swift over short distances. Male and female are similar with the female simply looking a little more washed out.
It usually nests in a clump of Spanish moss or pine needle clumps, the nest being constructed of grass and bark lined with hair, feathers and spiders’ webs. Typically lays 4 spotted green eggs, incubated by the female alone for approximately 13 days.
The Yellow-throated Warbler is an ardent singer with a series of clear ringing notes descending in pitch, increasing in speed rising at the end: tweede-tweede-tweede-da-ma-meet.
Described in 1766 by Linneaus, the famous Swedish zoologist. The genus Steophaga was introduced by William Swainson, an English naturalist. The Yellow Throated Warbler was originally classified in the Genus Dendroica along with many other new world wood warblers.
This was recently merged with the genus Setophaga (which was a single species genus for American Redstart). The order Setophaga now contains 29 species. Setophaga means Moth Eater in Latin.
The population is estimated at 1.6 million birds and this species is of least concern in terms of
its continued survival.