Last Updated: September 20, 2022
How was your last birding tour?
Next time, look for North American birds with yellow bellies only?
Imagine how wild such an excursion will be, as you'll have to go to many habitats to see even a handful of them.
It's the kind of adventure you'll not want to leave your camera at home because how else will you tell your friends in your chapter of the National Audubon Society that you saw over 100 yellow-bellied birds? Here are a few of such avians.
- 15 Yellow-bellied Birds To See in North America
- 1. American Goldfinch
- 2. Yellow Warbler
- 3. Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
- 4. Lesser Goldfinch
- 5. Bullock's Oriole
- 6. Canada Warbler
- 7. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
- 8. Connecticut Warbler
- 9. Mourning Warbler
- 10. Western Tanager
- 11. Yellow-breasted Chat
- 12. Hooded Oriole
- 13. Western Meadowlark
- 14. Cedar Waxwing
- 15. Evening Grosbeak
- Frequently Asked Questions
15 Yellow-bellied Birds To See in North America
A bird with a yellow belly is not necessarily a warbler, oriole, flycatcher, or finch. But, most of the ones we'll touch on below belong to those species. Our list will give you an idea of how diverse you can go when you organize your birding itinerary around seeing species with yellow plumage.
1. American Goldfinch
Fortunately, there's a resident population in North America, with the breeding grounds in Canada.
A male goldfinch has different plumage during the breeding and nonbreeding seasons.
Thus, a breeding male is colorful with a yellow body, black forehead, and black wings with white wing bars. A female has a yellow belly but is duller, and its back is olive. The non-breeding male and female birds have unstreaked brown underparts.
To see these bold yellow bellies, you'll need a trip to weedy fields, parks, and open floodplains with an abundance of aster and thistle. You can also draw them to your backyard with sunflower seeds.
An American goldfinch is a small bird with yellow belly plumage as it measures 4.3 to 5.1 inches long.
Fun Fact: The American Goldfinch is not particular on a location to feed. In fact, these birds provide you with ideas on where to place a birdfeeder so that they would feed "extra special"!
2. Yellow Warbler
This bird's breeding range is in North America, and its wintering grounds are in Central and South America.
According to Cornell Lab, you're likely to see it in forest edges and wetlands because such habitats never run out of insects. If they do, a yellow warbler will fly to the nearest backyard to see if the owner invites avians in for some suet or fruit. Even peanut butter can make this warbler frequent your backyard.
It's not difficult to ID a yellow warbler.
It has a yellow-green back, black eyes, and a yellow belly. You'll note some brown streaks on the yellow underparts of male birds, similar to those on a house sparrow.
If you'd also want to compare it to an American goldfinch, this one measures 4.7 to 5.1 inches. So, it's about the size of a goldfinch and half the size of an American kestrel. But, when you compare it to a yellow rumped warbler, the two birds are almost the same size, though you can differentiate them by their plumage as a rumped warbler is gray with a yellow rump.
3. Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
It's one of the larger birds we'll discuss here, as its body length measures 7.1 to 8.7 inches. If you've seen a downy woodpecker, this one is larger.
There are no sapsuckers in the western states, from New Mexico towards California. The birds in the breeding range north migrate to wintering grounds in the southern states like Arkansas and Tennessee.
This migration starts in September, and the birds fly back to breeding grounds in May. More female sapsuckers go beyond the southern states to winter in Central America.
This sapsucker's belly isn't bold yellow like a goldfinch as it has yellowish underparts.
However, its belly stands out because a yellow bellied sapsucker has black wings with white spots and a face with black and white stripes. It has a fourth color, red, on its crown.
To make it even more colorful, the red crown of a male matches its red throat. However, a female sapsucker has a white throat and red crown.
Explore deciduous forests in your area as yellow-bellied sapsuckers are most active in such habitats. You'll see shallow sap well holes on the barks of yellow birch or sugar maple trees.
4. Lesser Goldfinch
It's one of the small birds with yellow bellies as it grows between 3.5 and 4.3 inches from bill-to-tail.
You'll see it on a willow, elderberry, or cottonwood tree in open fields and forest clearings of the southwestern area of the continent. On top of that, there's a resident population of lesser goldfinches in California, Mexico, and southwestern Texas. The breeding range is in Utah, New Mexico, and neighboring states.
You don't have to go birding away from home because a lesser goldfinch might surprise you by visiting your bird feeder. The only thing you have to do is be generous with your portions of nyjer seeds.
This bird's back is either black or green with white patches. It has a black cap and yellow underparts. A female has an olive back and a duller underside.
5. Bullock's Oriole
It's a western bird with a breeding range in all western states and wintering grounds in Mexico. Further, there's a resident population in the coastal strip of California.
It's easy to attract this oriole with the same sugar water that brings hummers to your nectar feeder. Also, you can add fruit to the offer.
When several birds with yellow bellies come to your backyard, you can ID a bullocks oriole by a black line from the eye to the throat, black upperparts, a bright orange belly, and a white wing patch. A female has a grayish back, yellowish-orange head, and white underside.
6. Canada Warbler
Here are the ID details to pick out a Canada warbler from the flock of birds in your backyard: gray back, black necklace, yellow underside, white eyerings, and a long tail. You might miss the faint necklace on the female warbler.
Its breeding range is in Canada, while the eastern states, eastern Mexico, and Central America are the migratory range of this long-distance migrant. It flies by night from Canada to South America, and it's the first warbler to make the trip south.
Search for Canada warblers in the understory of coniferous or deciduous forests. They are small birds, between 4.7 and 5.9 inches long.
7. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
You're most likely going to see this flycatcher in a boreal forest.
A yellow bellied flycatcher makes a che-lek call. That's one way to help you ID it. If that fails, use its physical characteristics. Yes, it has a yellow belly, but what other features distinguish it from other flycatchers? It's one of the small birds with yellow bellies as its bill-to-tail length is between 5.1 and 5.9 inches.
Overall, its plumage is yellow, though you'll notice whitish wing bars and white eyerings.
You'll have to go birding away from home because the yellow bellied flycatcher isn't a backyard visitor. The only time you're likely to see it in your neighborhood is during the migration if it hunts insects in your native trees.
It breeds in North America and flies south to Mexico to winter there. It also moves lower to Costa Rica in Central America.
8. Connecticut Warbler
So, where are you likely to see it?
You can see it in Canada and other northern breeding grounds from May to June. This avian flies from countries like British Columbia and Brazil in South America to Florida in spring and flies east in fall.
Despite its name, a Connecticut warbler isn't a resident bird of the state of Connecticut. Rather, it got its name because the first specimen came from this state.
It's about the same size as a yellow bellied flycatcher. You'll also know it by its gray hood, white rings around the eyes, pale bill, and yellow underside.
You'll search for Connecticut warblers in different habitats because they don't winter in the same habitat they breed. Breeding grounds include open woodlands, while winter sees them migrate to lowland tropical forests.
9. Mourning Warbler
This small songbird has a stunning color combination. The male has an unmistakable black chest that contrasts its gray hood and yellow underside. Though a female warbler is paler and doesn't have a black chest, it's still colorful.
Since it's a foraging avian, it loves dense shrubbery where insects and fruits are always in abundance.
Wintering grounds aren't any different as it moves to tropical forest edges or gaps with undergrowth.
Fun Fact: You can invite these birds into your backyard. Just know how to build a bird feeding station and you're good to go!
10. Western Tanager
It's a colorful bird with an orange-red head, yellow body, and wings with white wing bars. A female has a red face and a yellowish-green body.
It breeds in the western states like Washington and Idaho, then migrates south to winter in pine-oak woodlands and forest edges.
Explore coniferous and mixed woodlands to see this species in the breeding range.
However, if you live in its migration range, sightings are likely in scrubs, woods, and habitats with scattered trees.
A western tanager eats insects like wasps, caterpillars, and termites. It also visits feeders for fruit slices.
11. Yellow-breasted Chat
You'll find this species in its wintering grounds throughout Central America, so there's a reason for you to go birding beyond North America. But, you can still see these birds in your hometown as the breeding range is across North America.
A yellow breasted chat is one of the larger warblers as its body length is 7.1 inches, but it's not as large as a purple martin.
In addition to a yellow underside, other ID details are an olive-green back, gray face, long tail, and white rings around the eyes.
You'll see it in forest edges, swamps, edges of streams and ponds, as long as there's a dense shrub. These habitats provide a variety of food, such as spiders, ants, bees, and caterpillars. It also eats berries and fruits.
If you're lucky, you'll come across a cup-shaped nest made of bark strips, grass, pine needles, and animal hair. A yellow breasted chat builds one that can hold up to six small eggs with a width under 0.8 inches each.
12. Hooded Oriole
Your regular backyard visitor with a body length between 7.1 and 7.9 inches might be a hooded oriole.
To confirm it's an oriole, check if it has a curved bill, black wings, and a yellow or orange body. The male doesn't have a yellow throat like a female oriole. Instead, it has a black one. A female's body is olive-green with grayish back feathers and white wing bars.
When it's not sampling nectar in backyard feeders, a hooded oriole inhabits open woodlands with palm, cottonwood, or willow trees.
Fun Fact: You could make them feel at home by providing them with a squirrel proof bird feeder pole! Doing this would not only prolong their visit but would also create a sense of security for them.
You'll have to tour southern states as its breeding range is in California, Arizona, and neighboring states. It's a short-distance migrant that flies to Mexico in winter. Nonetheless, there's also a resident population in California and Central America.
13. Western Meadowlark
A meadowlark will sing so many songs that it might be hard for you to keep up. It's a medium-sized avian with a body length between 6.3 and 10.2 inches. It's so popular that six states chose it as their state bird.
Its long bill might be the first feature that grabs your attention. There are brown streaks on its back and a black V on its chest.
The western meadowlark inhabits fields and meadows. The breeding range is in the northern region of North America, and wintering grounds are south. However, resident birds also inhabit the western area from Washington to Mexico.
14. Cedar Waxwing
A cedar waxwing has a pale yellow underside, a bright yellow tail tip, a gray back, and a pale brown head and chest. It grows between 5.5 and 6.7 inches long.
Cedar waxwings breed in Canada and Alaska and winter south as far as Costa Rica and Panama. Fortunately, there's a resident population in the northern states, so you don't have to go far. These forest birds love woodlands along streams, for there are always insects to hunt.
But, you may also see them in grasslands, desert washes, towns, and old fields. They prefer wintering in open woods, forest edges, and gardens with fruiting plants.
A breeding pair looks for a nesting site together, though it's the female bird that decides where to build a nest.
You'll find this avian's nest on a horizontal branch between three and 50 feet above the ground.
15. Evening Grosbeak
This irregular migrant is impossible to predict. An evening grosbeak breeds in coniferous forests, and there's a resident population in northern areas of North America. It irrupts when the coniferous forests in the north don't produce enough cones.
These irruptions aren't as predictable as they were previously.
An evening grosbeak has a thick bill. A male has a yellow body, black wings with a white patch, and a yellow stripe over the eye. On the other hand, a female grosbeak has a gray body, white and black wings, and greenish-yellow tinges on the neck and sides.
Frequently Asked Questions
What small birds have yellow bellies?
There are so many birds with such plumage that we can't name all of them. In addition to the ones in our list above, there's the common yellowthroat, prairie warbler, orange-crowned warbler, Cape May warbler, and Couch's kingbird.
Is there a yellow-breasted robin?
Yes, an eastern yellow robin has a yellow underside contrasting a gray back and olive-yellow rump. It's an Australian bird found in forests in the East.
There's also the yellow-bellied robin that BirdLife International lists as endemic. Though its population size remains unknown, it's not a vulnerable species since it's in the least concern category.
What bird has a yellow belly in Arizona?
There are many yellow-bellied birds in this state. They include the lesser goldfinch, yellow warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, pine siskin, gilded flicker, and the western kingbird.
The sheer number of birds with yellow feathers on the belly will amaze you. Even more exciting is that you don't have to leave North America to see them.
Well, of course, you could take this chance to visit Central American countries like Costa Rica, but if you want to see the ones in your state first, we gave you a list to get you started. Which species would you like to see first? We’d love to hear about your excursion.