A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

Yellow-rumped Warblers Everywhere and Nowhere

With their high tinny chirp, Yellow-rumped Warblers are often heard rather than seen. They are swift fliers, making them hard to discern in the top canopy of the old-growth forest. Walking through the forest, I can hear them over there, and then here, and up there, but I often have a hard time actually seeing one up close. It’s as if bands of Yellow-rumped Warblers are moving around the forest behind some science fiction cloaking device.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. April 24, 2023. Inwood Hill Park

Capturing good pictures of warblers of all sorts can easily turn into frustration. They are often too high up in the tree, leading to the all-too-human phenomenon known as “warbler’s neck.” Once a warbler is in sight, they will cunningly move behind a tree branch. They do not owe birders anything.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler. April 24, 2023. Inwood Hill Park

In migration, Yellow-rumped Warblers will eat everything – insects, fruits of bayberry and wax myrtle trees, poison ivy, many types of seeds, and dogwoods. In this respect, they may literally be found everywhere in nature along their spring migration path.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. April 24, 2023. Inwood Hill Park

As Inwood Hill Park is characterized by hilly terrain, venturing to a high elevation in the park provides the best vantage point to actually see warblers. Early this morning, I climbed up the set of stairs leading to the ridge trail high above the Clove, and I was able to observe these elusive migrants.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. April 24, 2023. Inwood Hill Park

Once seen, Yellow-rumped Warblers are quite remarkable. Like similar species such as Magnolia, Yellow-throated, and Townsend’s, their plumage consists of blacks, whites, charcoals, and bright yellows. During fall migration, Yellow-rumped Warblers are brown in color (below). Their rumps are always yellow. 

Yellow-rumped Warbler during fall migration. October 6, 2022. Inwood Hill Park

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