15 Popular Yellow Birds in Idaho (Ultimate Guide + Pictures)

From wide plains and forested hills to pristine waterways and rugged peaks, Idaho offers plenty of opportunities to spot interesting yellow avian wildlife. The variety of habitats is reflected in the number of yellow birds that breed, nest, and migrate through this beautiful state. 

Learn how to identify the next unknown yellow bird by using our guide to identify a wide range of yellow birds in Idaho.

These gorgeous yellow birds include goldfinches, many kinds of warblers, yellow-headed blackbirds, western tanagers, chats, kingbirds, and even orioles and grosbeaks.

Get the name right for the next yellow bird that you see with our list that showcases the top 15 popular yellow birds in Idaho.

Yellow Birds in Idaho

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1. Yellow-Breasted Chat

  • Scientific name: Icteria virens
  • Diet: Invertivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Dense woods that include dogwood, sumac, or hawthorn trees
  • Lifespan: 7 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Weight: Around 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 7 inches

This chunky songbird typically shows up in Idaho just as spring is bursting into bloom. Their warble is wonderful and weird, full of laughs, whistles, and chuckles that can help you identify this bird.

Look for a big head, a long gray tail that matches a brownish-gray back and wings, and the signature bright yellow throat and chest. Yellow-Breasted Chats also wear black “spectacles” below white eyebrow lines.

Despite their chatty call, these birds are timid and usually perch atop tall branches or power lines near roads to snap up bugs like bees, beetles, or praying mantises.

2. Yellow Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga Petechia
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Marshlands and shrubs in yards or gardens
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: About 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches 

These sunny warblers enjoy an Idaho spring after wintering in warmer climates. Watch for their butter-yellow and brown-flecked faces, chests, and bellies topped with olive-black wings from May through October in the state. They also have a distinctive song that has buzzing and chipping notes.

Yellow Warblers often appear in rural backyards, wetland borders, and shrubs near creeks where they harvest insects.

3. Common Yellowthroat

  • Scientific name: Geothlypis trichas
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Marshy bottomlands, damp, deciduous woods, and thick shrubbery
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: Around 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: Close to 7 inches

Enjoy the sight of this migratory Idaho visitor once April starts unfolding in the state. A Common Yellowthroat has puffy plumage covered with yellowish-brown back and wing feathers. Some may have a hint of olive-yellow color. The thing that really makes male birds stand out is the bright yellow chest patch, black mask, and bold white eyebrow line. Females have gray heads.

Common Yellowthroats like to stay in damp areas near water that also have lots of dense thickets for shelter and attracting bugs.

4. Yellow-Rumped Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Evergreen trees or bushes in woods, parks, and yards
  • Lifespan: 4 years on average
  • Size: About 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce on average
  • Wingspan: Around 8 inches

It’s easy to miss this grayish-brown little bird in a bush or tree unless you have eagle eyes or binoculars to catch sight of its yellow head patch and small washes of yellow shades on its chest and rump. Females have similar feather colorations, but their yellow patches look faded.

Keep an eye out for Yellow-Rumped Warblers in your backyard or nearby spruce or juniper trees during a walk in the park.

5. American Goldfinch

  • Scientific name: Spinus tristis
  • Diet: Insectivore, herbivore, and granivore
  • Habitat: Abandoned fields, urban parks, and backyard feeders
  • Empty fields, backyards, and city parks
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: Close to 4 inches
  • Weight: About 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: Around 7 inches 

The American Goldfinch is one of the most iconic yellow birds to spot against Idaho’s western landscape. Look for its bright yellow plumage that covers most of its body except for black, white-barred wings, a white underside of the tail, and a black cap. Since Goldfinches are also serious seedeaters, they have a wedge-thick pinkish beak.  

These birds usually appear in the state during the spring and summer when they peck at thistles, asters, or milkweed plants in open prairies or head to friendly feeders for sunflower seeds.

6. MacGillivray’s Warbler

  • Scientific name: Geothlypis tolmiei
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Willow thickets, brush areas, moist land, or burned-over scrub trees
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 4 to 6 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: About 7.5 inches 

This thickset yellow-bellied warbler doesn’t have a neck. Instead, its dark, blue-gray head merges in sharp contrast with its olive-yellow-brown wings and back. Look for a ruffled gray bib, white eye circles, black patch near eyes, and a rounded, forked tail for further male bird identification. Female MacGillivray’s Warblers have a pale gray hood with no black mark. 

MacGillivray’s Warblers are exciting to watch. They aren’t very agile, so they hop in abrupt bursts on the ground while hunting for insects through thickets and second-growth woods.

7. Wilson’s Warbler

  • Scientific name: Cardellina pusilla
  • Diet: Largely insectivore
  • Habitat: Ponds, bogs, creeks, prairies, shrubby evergreen woods, and willow trees
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Weight: About 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: Approximately 6 inches

This interesting yellow Idaho bird has a swift song that rises and then drops like spilled beads from a necklace. They are recognizable by their plump bodies, black hoods, and bright yellow bodies framed by narrow olive wings and tail.

Wilson’s Warblers tend to breed in Canada or Alaska, so it’s possible to see them in flight during migration. Some of them stick around to breed in northern parts of western states before starting south to winter vacations in Central America and Mexico.

If you want to birdwatch for this species, check out woodland edges and bushes along creeks that have plenty of bugs and spiders since these birds won’t approach a bird feeder.

8. Yellow-Headed Blackbird

  • Scientific name: Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
  • Diet: Primarily insectivore, granivore, and herbivore
  • Habitat: Ponds, rivers, creeks, mountain fields, and other wetlands
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 8 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches

One of the most striking yellow birds that you might be lucky to see in Idaho is the Yellow-Headed Blackbird. This massive blackbird has a big body, black tail and wings with long white wing bars, and a black-masked orange-yellow head and chest. Females are dull graying brown in color with faint yellow markings on the head and throat.

Watch for these intimidating-looking blackbirds in wetland reeds and marshy prairies where they breed and nest in spring and summer. In winter, these year-round residents form giant flocks of many kinds of blackbirds that swoop down on fields and pastures to scout for grain and seeds.

9. Scott’s Oriole

  • Scientific name: Icterus parisorum
  • Diet: Insectivore and fructivore
  • Habitat: Dry scrub woods and imperiled mountain pinyon trees
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 9 inches
  • Weight: 1 to 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

Scott’s Oriole is a big songbird with a nervous and active personality. They have a black hood and cape that extends over the back and chest. Wings are black with prominent white bars and the tail is black above a rich yellow body. Females have a thick brownish-yellow hood, similar wings in a paler dark shade, and a muted yellow chest and belly.

They spend their time in juniper or pinyon trees where they nest and scout for insects and nectar. They are also one of the few birds that enjoy eating the unpleasant-tasting Monarch Butterfly.

10. Western Tanager

  • Scientific name: Piranga ludoviciana
  • Diet: Insectivore and fructivore
  • Habitat: Mountains and evergreen forests
  • Lifespan: 7 years
  • Size: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: Less than 1 ounce to over 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 11 inches 

This medium-sized songbird will turn heads with its egg-yolk yellow chest and stomach feathers, black wings and tail decorated with white and yellow bars, and a stunning reddish-orange face that looks like a sunset. Females are more yellow, dusty green, and brown and lack any crimson marks on the face.

At the same time, it’s hard to spot these birds since they usually stick to the very top branches in open woodlands. While Western Tanagers usually don’t consume seeds, they might find their way to your yard if you put out orange slices or dried cherries.

11. Townsend’s Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga townsendi
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Mature coniferous forests with lots of juniper, spruce, and thick undergrowth
  • Lifespan: 8 or 9 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: Less than 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

This colorful little bird is a gorgeous array of black, yellow, white, and soft olive shades. Look for its distinctive yellow and black striped head with a smooth and subtle olive-yellow back.

Watch for these warblers in old-growth evergreen woods that have dense understory. When they migrate in autumn or winter, these birds are attracted to hearty bird-feeder meals such as peanut butter, suet, and mealworms.

12. Western Kingbird

  • Scientific name: Tyrannus verticalis  
  • Diet: Mainly insectivore
  • Habitat: Streams, pastures, and yards
  • Lifespan: 2 or 3 years
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

A Western Kingbird has an ashy gray throat head that fades towards a brown back and wings, but underneath, it reveals a surprising yellow belly and white wing bars. Both males and females retain their colors during and beyond the breeding season.

They’re usually seen perching atop fence posts, strung along power lines, or snatching flying insects from their throne atop a tall tree branch.

13. Western Meadowlark

  • Scientific name: Sturnella neglecta
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Agricultural fields, prairies, and grasslands
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 6 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 10 inches

The Western Meadowlark puts on a breathtaking display if you’re lucky enough to see it. In flight, their pale gray, black, and brown speckled wings and tail spread in dramatic fan shapes on either side of its deep, lemon-yellow body crowned with a striped black and yellow head and a thick, black V-shaped necklace. Female birds have whiter heads and lack the male’s distinctive black head streaks.  

Their brown, black, and white back feathers serve as a protective camouflage while these birds forage near roads, wetlands, and fields for insects and weed seeds.

14. Nashville Warbler

  • Scientific name: Leiothlypis ruficapilla
  • Diet: Usually insectivore
  • Habitat: Scrub regrowth or woods with juniper, spruce, or oak trees  
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: Around 5 inches
  • Weight: About 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 9 or 10 inches

This interesting Idaho songbird appears on 2% of April through September checklists for the state. If you notice a brownish-olive-winged bird with a gray head, white eye rings, and dabs of bright yellow color across its throat, chest, and stomach, you may have spotted this elusive warbler.

Whether they breed in the state or pass through, Nashville Warblers are typically spotted catching insects or occasionally dipping into suet in a bird feeder.

15. Evening Grosbeak

  • Scientific name: Coccothraustes vespertinus
  • Diet: Insectivore, fructivore, and herbivore
  • Habitat: Broadleaf trees or mixed evergreen woods
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 12 to 14 inches 

Both male and female Evening Grosbeaks sport thick, broad, conical-shaped bills. Males have black heads with a yellow patch that extends above and past the eyes, while females have gray heads with a whisk of yellow upper eyeshadow. Evening Grosbeak males have lush yellow body feathers accented by black wings with white markings on top. Females are greenish gray, with black and faint yellow trim. 

These lovely birds inhabit dense, coniferous woods in the northern parts of the state throughout the year. In winter, they spread over the state, from farms to backyards to eat spilled grain or crack seeds in platform bird feeders.

Final Thoughts

Yellow birds are easy to spot in brown and green forests or prairie landscapes, but they’re often difficult to tell apart. We hope that you enjoyed this list of popular yellow birds that will help you to tell the difference between the various yellow birds that live in and migrate to the great state of Idaho. 

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