7 Small Yellow Backyard Birds

They’re small, they’re yellow, and they’re chattering and chirping away in your backyard. If you’re interested to find out which yellow birds are visiting your garden, in this article, I’m going to discuss 7 small yellow birds that you might spot in your backyard.

Prairie Warbler

A small (only 4.3 inches in length) and slender yellow warbler, the Prairie Warbler can be spotted in eastern U.S. during breeding and in the Caribbean and south Florida in winter.

The name of the bird might induce you to think that it favors prairies as their habitat. However, the Prairie Warbler favors scrubby fields, open woodlands, pine stands, regenerating forests, and clearcuts. They will even wander into your backyard.

They build their nests in a lower area of a shrub or tree. The nest is cup-shaped and made of plant material and animal hair.

Animal hair is often used by birds to build their nests. Knowing this, I often leave my dog’s hair out in the garden during spring for birds to take away.

The plumage of the Prairie Warbler is yellow with black on its flanks and a chestnut patch on its back. The eyes feature a black semicircle below the eye as well as a black eye-line.

The female has duller colors and the streaks on the flanks are less pronounced.

Insects are the main food source of the Prairie Warbler. They actively hunt for insects in the foliage of trees and sometimes they’re even seen flying around catching insects mid-flight.

Yellow Warbler

Another small yellow bird you might spot in your backyard is the Yellow Warbler. There’s a good reason why this particular Warbler’s called the Yellow one since its entire body is almost fully yellow.

Apart from the reddish-brown streaks on the underpants and the olive-yellow streaks on the wings, the Yellow Warbler has bright yellow plumage. The head of the Yellow Warbler is entirely yellow, which makes its black, beady eyes stand out.

Found in wooded areas across North America and up to 9,000 feet in the West, this warbler species breeds in shrubby thickets and woods. It has a marked preference for cottonwoods, willows, and alders.

They nest in trees, building small, cup-shaped nests that are very sturdy. The male is tasked with guarding the nest from intruders and procuring food, while the female Yellow Warbler will build and maintain the nest as well as incubate the eggs.

Because they mostly eat insects, a bird feeder will not attract these birds into your backyard. What works instead is having a large yard with small trees and a location close to a stream.

Blue-Winged Warbler

The sharp and pointed black bill of the Blue-Winged Warbler gives them a more dramatic look compared to the Yellow Warbler.

The Blue-Winged Warbler features completely yellow plumage on the underside, while the back is yellow green. The eyes feature a black eye-line, which also contributes to its more aggressive look.

The wings are gray yellow with two white wing bars. The undertail of these birds is also white.

In winter these birds leave their breeding grounds of Eastern North America and head south to southern Central America.

Because of their expansion northward, there are concerns of hybridization with the rarer Golden-Winged warbler and posing a threat to their population.

The diet of the Blue-Winged Warbler is made up of insects and spiders. They like to hunt for these in the foliage of apple trees, walnut trees and water hemlock.

If you have any of these planted in your garden, you’ll definitely be attracting these warblers to your backyard.

American Goldfinch

An easily recognizable bird, the American Goldfinch has a short, conical bill, black wings with white markings, bright yellow plumage on other parts of the body, except for the forehead, which is black.

They’re welcome to bird feeders, which they will often frequent, so if you have bird feeders in your yard the chance of spotting the American Goldfinch in your backyard is positively high.

During the breeding season, you’ll come across the American Goldfinch from mid-Alberta to North Carolina.

They prefer open woodlands as their habitat. They like areas overgrown with weeds including meadows, fields, flood plains, orchards, etc.

They build their nest in just 6 days in a deciduous shrub or tree at a height of around 33 ft. They lay around 4-6 bluish-white eggs that are roughly the size of a peanut.

It is said of the American Goldfinch that it has a strictly vegetarian diet feeding on seeds of trees and weeds. They will only inadvertently consume insects. However, they will consume maple sap, berries, and tree buds.

Lesser Goldfinch

Tiny with a weight of only 0.3-0.4 oz and a length of 3.5-4.3 inches, the Lesser Goldfinch may be the smallest true finch in the world.

Males have black and yellow plumage, with bright yellow on the belly and black back, cap and wings. The wings also feature white patches. Females are a beautiful gray-olive yellow with a darker shade on their backs.

As for its distribution, the Lesser Goldfinch ranges from southwestern United States to Venezuela and Peru.

And in keeping with the theme of this article, the Lesser Goldfinch is another small yellow bird that will often visit feeders in backyards. They particularly enjoy hanging on thistle sock feeders.

They feed socially, often gathering in groups of up to several hundreds. They don’t mind mixing with other seed-eating songbirds, especially at feeding stations.

Although they’re smaller they tend to display dominance when in contact with the Lawrence finch. When at a feeder, the Lesser Goldfinch has priority in feeding, while at nesting sites, the Lesser Goldfinch will chase away the Lawrence one.

Their main source of food is represented by seeds and grains from weeds, shrubs, and trees. They will also eat buds, flowers, or fruits.

They’re fairly common in suburbs but will often seek out mountain canyons and even desert oases if food is available.

Western Tanager

With a red-orange color on its head, bright yellow body, black wings and yellow and white wing bars, the Western Tanager is noticeably larger than a Warbler but still a small bird with a length of 6.3-7.5 inches.

They will visit feeders but will not eat seeds, since their primary diet consists of insects. They will, however, eat fruits – either dried or fresh – including freshly cut oranges.

Another way to attract the Western Tanager to your yard – especially if you live near a wooded area – is to provide a pond, moving water or simply a birdbath.

These birds are found throughout the western part of the United States, especially in open conifer forests. As foliage gleaners, they seek out insects in trees but they also engage in hawking, catching insects in their flight.

The red-orange coloration on the head of the Western Tanager is not caused by carotenoids like in many other birds, instead it’s caused by a pigment called rhodoxanthin

supposedly found in the insects that make up their diet.

The Western Tanager has several predators including the red-tail hawk, prairie falcon, Mexican spotted owl, Accipiter hawks, and several other types of hawks. Even domestic cats will get a swing at Western Tanagers when they visit backyards.

Canada Warbler

A dainty bird with a yellow plumage, the Canada Warbler spends the breeding season in Canada and northeastern United States, while in winter it migrates to northern South America.

Although it shows similarities with the Yellow Warbler, it has a fuller chest and longer tail. But it also has a differently patterned plumage. The Canada Warbler – and especially the male warbler – has a bold black pattern across its chest.

The pattern goes from the chest all the way up to the eyes. The back of the bird along with the wings are a metallic blue gray.

Mixed conifer and deciduous forest and forested wetlands are its main habitat. It enjoys forests with a shrubby understory and forest slopes where rhododendrons grow.

The reason why the understory vegetation is important for the Canada Warbler is because they’re ground nesters, building their nests in the vegetation.

It feeds on insects, including beetles, smooth caterpillars, moths, worms, snails, spiders, mosquitoes, and flies.

Unfortunately, forest fragmentation, acid rains and the decline of vegetation they prefer either because of over browsing by deer or the spread of diseases that threaten certain trees, the population of the Canada Warbler shows a declining trend.


If you have a large yard where you wouldn’t mind attracting small singing birds with yellow plumage, the seven birds I discussed in this article have their breeding grounds in different parts of the United States, and many of them will appreciate bird feeders being placed in your garden.

Although some will not eat seeds, there are other treats you can leave out for them including fresh or dried fruit be it berries, or oranges cut in half.

If you have certain trees or a location close to a stream or pond, your garden may already be a prime nesting spot for several of these small yellow birds.

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