15 Popular Yellow and Black Birds in North Carolina (Ultimate Guide + Pictures)

Over a dozen interesting birds found in North Carolina sport a variety of bright or dull yellow feathers marked with dramatic black plumage. If you’ve spotted a flash of color in the woods or your backyard, this guide will help you identify the most common types of yellow and black birds that you’re likely to encounter there.

Yellow Warblers, White-eyed Vireos, Yellowthroats, Pine or Hooded Warblers, Goldfinches, and Palm Warblers are just a few of the beautiful black and yellow songbirds that migrate south or live in North Carolina year-round.

Top popular Yellow and Black Birds in North Carolina

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1. American Goldfinch

  • Scientific name: Spinus tristis
  • Diet: Granivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Wild fields, parks, and yards
  • Lifespan: 3 to 6 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 4 to 6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 to 8 inches

These popular bright yellow and black birds make 29% of birdwatchers’ winter and summer checklists since they reside in North Carolina year-round.

It’s easy to spot male American Goldfinches, particularly during warmer months, due to their brilliant yellow color offset by black wings and masks.

You’re most likely to spot Goldfinches in rural fields or overgrown land where they hunt for thistles, asters, and sunflower seeds. They’re also a common visitor to suburban parks and backyards. You can draw these beautiful birds by letting thistles grow, sowing milkweed plants, and sprinkling bird feeders with sunflower and nyjer seeds.

2. Yellow-Rumped Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: woods, evergreen forests, shrubs, coasts, parks, and yards
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 4 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 to 9 inches

Winter is a usual time to sight a Yellow-Rumped Warbler in North Carolina, where you can catch sight of them from September to May. With speckled gray and black speckled bodies and yellow patches on the breast, sides, rump, face, and throat, these fluffy little birds make 30% of the state’s winter birdwatching checklists.

They often hunt for insects, fruits, and seeds in coniferous forests or scrubby deciduous wood habitats. You can also see them among coastline vegetation, in parks, and in neighborhoods.

You can attract them to your home by having evergreen, bayberry, or wax myrtle trees, and by putting out sunflower seeds.

3. Common Yellowthroat

  • Scientific name: Geothlypis trichas
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Wetlands, marshes, brush, and weedy fields
  • Lifespan: 10 to 11 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

It’s most common to glimpse this small, brownish-yellow songbird with a black mask across its face during the breeding season. But you can spot them year-round in NC.

Common Yellowthroats spend most of their time hunting for insects in wetlands, marshes, or brushy areas. If you want to attract Common Yellowthroats to your yard, they enjoy large spaces with lots of thick vegetation, regional plants, and plenty of insects.

4. Eastern Meadowlark

  • Scientific name: Sturnella magna
  • Diet: Insectivore and granivore
  • Habitat: Pastures and grasslands
  • Lifespan: 6 to 8 years
  • Size: 7 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 13 to 16 inches

This medium-sized songbird is an almost-threatened species that is popularly spotted in North Carolina during the summer and slightly less in the winter months. Their bright yellow bodies are topped with brown wings, black back markings, and a striking black chest band.

When spring arrives, they are often heard whistling like clear flutes in between scouring their grassland habitats looking for insects. In the winter, larger flocks may forage through fields to pick up seeds.

If you are surrounded by open grasslands, you may catch sight of this near-threatened bird.

5. Pine Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga pinus
  • Diet: Mostly granivore and fructivore
  • Habitat: Pine woods, mixed pine and deciduous forests, and backyards
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 5 to 6 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 to 9 inches

Enjoy the sight and sound of the Pine Warbler year-round in North Carolina. These fat little yellow birds sport olive-colored backs, white underbellies, and black and white bars on the wings. Female birds have a brownish-yellow tinge and more white feathers on their bellies.

While they spend most of their time high up in pine tree forests, they also eat grain and insects during the summer and scavenge for seeds and fruits in the winter.

One of the best ways to attract Pine Warblers to your yard is to hang out a tube or platform feeder filled with sunflower seeds, millet, shelled peanuts, cracked corn, and suet. You can also draw these birds if you cultivate grapes, sumac, bayberry, and Virginia creeper.

6. White-Eyed Vireo

  • Scientific name: Vireo griseus
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Tangled woods, brushy forest edges, marsh thickets, regrown woods, and wild fields
  • Lifespan: 5 to 7 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

 White-eyed Vireos fly into North Carolina for the breeding season, so it’s normal to see their numbers rise when they migrate during April and May and leave again in September. 

These interesting birds have gray heads with white eyes and a yellow patch or band around their head. Their yellow sides, greenish-colored backs, and dark wings with white bars are offset by their white throats and chests.

These shy birds tend to hide in tangled thickets and brushy areas where they eat flies, insects, and spiders in summer and hunt for berries in the winter. While you might not see these birds in suburban backyards, these white-eyed visitors are attracted to overgrown fields and thickets where you can hear males sing from dawn till noon.7

7. American Yellow Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga Petechia
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Swamps perimeters, bushes, creeks, orchards, roadside thickets, and gardens
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 8 inches

These beautiful warblers have yellow plumage streaked with brown or dark olive-black on the back and wings. They are usually seen during breeding season migration near North Carolina’s eastern border.

These small avian visitors enjoy spending time in creeks, gardens, and swamp borders where they devour a diet of insects. You can attract them to your garden if you cultivate local trees and plants that attract caterpillars, flies, and other insects.

8. Baltimore Oriole

  • Scientific name: Icterus Galbula
  • Diet: Insectivore and fructivore
  • Habitat: Deciduous woods, parks, and backyards
  • Lifespan: 11 years
  • Size: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: 1 to 1.5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 9 to 11 inches

The Baltimore Oriole is one of the most interesting birds with yellow-orange, black, and white feathers that you may spot in NC. They’re most popular while migrating in April and May and September but may hang around in western regions of the state during the breeding season.

They prefer open, deciduous forests that contain cottonwood trees, maples, and elms. Their diet includes insects such as flies, beetles, ants, wasps, and grasshoppers. You can attract them to backyards by putting in berry bushes and flowers and providing sugar water in bird feeders.

9. Female Orchard Oriole

  • Scientific name: Icterus Spurious
  • Diet: Mostly fructivore and herbivore, sometimes insectivore
  • Habitat: Fields, parks, and forests
  • Lifespan: 8 years 
  • Size: 5 to 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.5 to 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 9 to 10 inches

With yellowish bodies, gray and black wings, and gold or black throats, these lovely female birds stand in contrast to their brighter male counterparts.

Just as their name suggests, Orchard Orioles enjoy semi-open spaces like orchards, trees near rivers, edges of forests, and suburban gardens. Like most oriole varieties, the Orchard Oriole enjoys a variety of food sources that include berries, flower nectar, fruits, and occasional insects.

It’s possible to attract these beautiful birds by putting sugar water in feeders.

10. Hooded Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga citrina
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Mature woods undergrowth, swamps, and lowlands
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches

From March to November, it’s possible to spot Hooded Warblers in the state. Their yellow bellies, olive-green backs, white flicks under their tails, and bright yellow face framed by a striking black hood and throat make these birds easy to identify.

Look for these birds in dense forests with thick undergrowth where you may spot them hunting for spiders and insects. A good way to attract them to your garden is to plant North Carolina plants and shrubs that offer protection and draw insects to the area.

11. Female American Redstart

  • Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Open and deciduous woods
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 8 inches

You may spot these attractive little birds during their September migration through the state. A few of them may stick around to breed. While males have bright black and orange bodies, females have olive-black backs, gray heads, and yellow patches on the sides, wing bars, and tail.

They enjoy picking magnolia and serviceberries from backyards or deciduous woods, so planting these berry plants in your yard can help attract these visitors.

12. Female Scarlet Tanager

  • Scientific name: Piranga olivacea
  • Diet: Insectivore and fructivore
  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, shrubs, and yards
  • Lifespan: At least 5 years
  • Size: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: 0.8 to 1.2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 10 to 11 inches

The female of this species has a yellow body with dark wings and tails in contrast to their scarlet and black male counterparts. These birds have short tails and thick bills. They are often spotted in North Carolina on migration flights.

They spend most of their time in the upper canopy foraging for insects. You can lure these visitors to your yard with a variety of indigenous berries such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, huckleberries, and serviceberries.

13. Prairie Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga discolor
  • Diet: Invertivore
  • Habitat: Dense, overgrown fields and regrown scrub trees
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches 

If you spot a small songbird with a yellow throat and belly topped by an olive-green back, black streaks on the sides, and dark half-moon marks under the eyes in North Carolina, chances are that you’ve sighted the male Prairie Warbler. Most sightings occur during their breeding season from April to October in the state.

Despite their name, Prairie Warblers dwell in forests and fields where they walk around with bobbing tails hunting for insects, snails, and spiders. If your yard is home to a lot of invertivores or you live in a rural area,  you’re more likely to see this pretty bird.

14. Palm Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga palmarum
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Fence rows, edges of forests, shrubs, and brushy fields
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 4 to 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

Another songbird that appears in North Carolina during fall migration is the Palm Warbler. These birds sport a rusty red cap on their head, a yellow throat and speckled yellow underside, and darkish black-brown feathers with olive-yellow-brown tones on the rest of their body.

They are mostly seen in fall and spring foraging on the ground in overgrown fields, forests, and scrubland for insects. If you want to attract Palm Warblers to your backyard, plant indigenous plants that draw insects in addition to hawthorn or bayberry.

15. Prothonotary Warbler

  • Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Wet bottomlands, woody streams, ponds, and swamps
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 0.5 ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 to 9 inches

The last popular black and yellow bird that you might spot in North Carolina is the Prothonotary Warbler. These birds’ bright yellow plumage, named for “prothonotaries” or the distinctive yellow vestments worn by Roman Catholic priests, blue-black wings, white under-tails, and thick beaks give them a unique look.

You can attract these distinctive birds to your backyard by providing nesting boxes if you live in a wetland area.

Final Thoughts

Many of these interesting birds are spotted during mating or migration seasons and top the checklists for much of the year in North Carolina.

While this list doesn’t cover every black and yellow bird that may migrate or call the state home, these are the birds that you’re most likely to encounter if you spot a black and yellow bird in the Tarheel state. 

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