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Yellow Birds in Texas: Can You Identify All 10 of Them?

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Mar 22nd, 2024
small yellow bird

Do you sometimes wonder if there are yellow birds in Texas?

If so…

Do you know what are these species, and which among them are backyard birds?

There are many different types of birds across the globe, and so are the ways to recognize them. Birding will be a more rewarding experience if we're more confident in knowing the birds we commonly encounter.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the different Texas yellow birds so that we'll have more confidence in identifying them the next time around.

Different Texas Yellow Bird Species

Several birders would resort to identifying birds by color, although it's challenging to only rely on it. Plumages change depending on the season, molting patterns, age, and sex.

The best way to take your birding skills up a notch is to spend more time observing these creatures in the field. When you're still learning the basics of bird recognition, focusing on feather color may not be the best way to begin.

There can be subtle differences between some of these birds. Sometimes, birds move so fast that we seldom get an excellent view to observe them well.

So, if you are not familiar with their general patterns, it's crucial to focus on even the most minor details. You need to know the group where the bird belongs, size, and shape. Not to mention their behavior, habitat, voice, and field marks.

Here are some of the Texas birds that are yellow with their vital features that would make recognizing them a breeze:

1. Yellow-Rumped Warbler

yellow and gray warbler

Houston Audubon reported the yellow-rumped warbler among Texas's familiar residents and migratory birds.

If you see a bird with a yellow rump singing a distinctive song at your bird feeders, there are chances that it's the yellow-rumped warbler. Its musical song begins with a faint sound that gradually increases in loudness.

The hairy woodpecker and the downy woodpecker are also birds you can characterize with their loud calls.

Aside from its yellow rump, it also has blue-gray upperparts, streaks on its back and breast, white underparts, and a yellow shoulder patch. It appears to have central circles of tiny feathers surrounding its eyes, sometimes colored entirely or partly to form an eye ring.

At times you might notice this eye-ring separated by dark feathers at the front and rear, like in the case of the American robin. This eye ring can also look slightly broken in front, like the blue-headed vireo, or intact, like the Nashville warbler.

However, this warbler can have two geographical variations; Eastern males (Myrtle) have white throats, and Western males (Audubon) have yellow throats.

Moreover, you will find that it has a grayish-brown head with a bright yellow patch at the base of its tail during the cold season. Like a Northern cardinal, it also likes to inhabit brushy and woodlands throughout the state.

While this creature is mainly an insect-eater, it would not hesitate to come to suet-filled bird feeders. Sunflower seed hearts would never attract this warbler for its incapability of breaking shells open.

Likewise, it would shift from eating insects to fruits during the cold season, just like a Northern mockingbird.

2. American Goldfinch

Yellow and black goldfinch

The American goldfinch is among the species that goes through seasonal plumage changes, as most experts call an evolution of beauty.

It's a small yellow bird in Texas with a black cap, tails, wings, and white undertail plumes as the male's breeding plumage. On the other hand, the female has olive-green upperparts and white underparts.

Relatively, the bird's overall hue is yellowish-brown to grayish with white undertail coverts during the cold season. Males have bright yellow faces, while females and juveniles have dark wings with two wing bars.

Some call this goldfinch the wild canary due to its cheerful bright color. It is familiar in bird feeders regardless of whatever season, but most especially in winter. A thistle feeder seems like a magnet for this lovely creature together with the pine siskin.

You might find it interesting that these goldies can spend all winter eating sunflower and Nyjer seeds. They tend to stray away from feeders in spring, where they start looking for natural food sources available.

It could be disappointing for those who wait for these birds in their backyards to witness them molt into their most gorgeous plumage. Moreover, the female goldie creates the nest from twigs or plant stems, typically between late June and July.

But if you would love to have these incredible creatures stay in your backyards, try setting up some thistle feeders. It also prefers peanut bits and sunflower seeds. When not in feeders, they ingest grass, weeds, and tree buds, so you might as well plant some of these in your garden.

Lastly, the goldies have this fascination for moving water. Having a shallow birdbath in your yard would make it seem like a haven for these birds, as they also enjoy drinking and bathing. 

3. Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing on a tree branch

The cedar waxwing is a slender yellow belly bird in Texas, a familiar species in North America.

This waxwing might be a common and often neglected species with an extensive range across the northern hemisphere. It moves southward and into Mexico and Central America during the cold season.

Recognizing this birdie is pretty easy; the tips of its wings are wax-like with vivid red spikes. It has a prominent crest and a small black mask, with an observable practice of changing positions as the bird flies in flocks. The juveniles look paler with streaked undersides.

Read Also: Birds With Yellow Bellies

Not a feather seems out of place; the bird is exquisitely elegant, even looks hand-painted if you look closely. Additionally, it is comfortable with humans, like how a house sparrow and Northern mockingbird inhabits human territories with no problem at all.

It won't be unusual to see this lovely bird feeding on winged insects among the fir and the spruce. This birdie mainly eats worms and insects in summer. But as soon as the nesting season is over, this creature goes back to its usual diet of eating fruits.

It's interesting to watch this waxwing flip a red berry from the hawthorn tree and catch the fruit with its beak. You would often see it in flocks while searching for fruit-bearing trees or looking for insects with the great blue heron near ponds.

The bird's sharp, chirping sound at night or during the day when in flight with the many others of their kind will make you watch them in awe.

4. Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch perched on a branch

The lesser goldfinch is a familiar summer resident in the Texas Hill Country, abundant from early March to mid-October in Central America. It occasionally migrates throughout the region during the cold season.

There are bird sightings of these goldfinches joining a festive event in Central and South Texas, showing how vibrant these creatures are.

Its female has a similar plumage hue with the female painted bunting, a combination of green and yellow feathers. The female goldie only differs with its smaller body size and conical bills; it also has wing bars.

The more significant adult males in the Texas population is the blacked-back variant with bright yellow underparts that highlight its black upperparts. You might have a chance of spotting these goldies in your backyard during chilly weather in February.

If you want to see scores of these finches all around, you should go bird watching in East Texas, where pine and sweetgum trees are abundant. Otherwise, you may see their kind in American sycamores around creeks, elms, and oaks on hillsides near the water.

If you wish to attract this creature into your space, try offering them Nyjer and sunflower seeds.

It also likes drinking and would undoubtedly enjoy having a birdbath nearby. Additionally, the species is a semi-colonial nester, defending only the area near their nest.

5. Wilson's Warbler

young Wilson's Warbler

The Wilsons warbler is also a small bird in bright yellow plumage with relatively few marks. Its male has a yellow face, distinctive black crown, sizeable black eye, and olive upperparts.

The female hooded warbler has a similar color pattern but is more prominent with white marks on its cocked tail and a black bib. This warbler is among the migrant yellow birds in Texas that you can see in all areas of the state.

Comparatively, this birdie will alert you of its presence with a song similar to the orange crowned warbler, another wintering bird in South Texas.

Locally abundant spring and fall migrants are familiar throughout the region. You can encounter some of these spring migrants in the grassland from mid-April to late May.

Mid-August marks the arrival of fall migrants, which becomes more abundant in September, and leave by mid-October. Some of these birds sporadically stay until early wintertime.

While this warbler is fully adaptable to a wide range of habitats, it prefers hedgerows and shrubby thickets, similar to a mourning dove. It is also typical to find this warbler hunting for food in trees at the forest edge.

6. Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler perched on a branch

This faint-plumaged warbler is a habitat expert, nesting and wintering in mature pine trees. Many species are endemic to the pine forests in the east, including this warbler, pileated woodpecker, and red-cockaded woodpecker.

You will rarely spot an endemic species, like this warbler, in deciduous foliage, except when migrating or when pine trees are available.

Pine warblers are short-distance migrants who, unknown to some, have a sweet, trilled song.

It's a yellow breasted bird in Texas with an olive-green hue above, markings on its flanks, and white wing bars. Its throat is also bright yellow and has a similar-colored eye-ring.

In comparison, the females appear duller, almost a grayish-brown shade with white undertail feathers, like its juveniles. The birdie also likes having its nest on horizontal branches, obscured by pine needles and made from bark strips.

To boot, it mainly feeds on caterpillars but will sometimes eat fruits and seeds during the non-breeding season. You can attract these birds into your yard with seed and suet feeders. Also, only some of these Texas yellow bird types are permanent residents.

Winter brings migrants, like a Northern mockingbird, from the northern range to the southern United States, joining resident pine warblers. However, even the state's permanent residents are not easy to spot, as they usually stay on top of tall pine trees.

7. White-Eyed Vireo

White-Eyed Vireo

Among the Texas birds, the white-eyed vireo is one that almost sings nonstop, even on a hot summer day. This songbird features unique yellow spectacles, contrasting its otherwise plain gray head.

The top part of its body is greenish-gray, extending through the scruff to the crown, while the bottom part is white. Its grayish-brown wings have yellow and black marks and two notable white wing bars.

The white iris is this bird's most prominent feature among its adults, although you need a better view to see it well.

You're more likely to spot this in Texas during the cold season, also visible in the eastern two-thirds of the state during spring and fall. It is, however, an abundant summer resident, as the Northern cardinal, but starting to become rare in the northern and western plateau.

Some reported seeing this vireo bird in Edward Plateau, together with other residents, like the Northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, eastern bluebird, wrens, and woodpeckers.

Birders can spot the vireos in almost any habitat. This bird also prefers open woodlands, like a great tailed grackle, overgrown pastures, and even riparian zones like a woodpecker. Furthermore, both males and females create the nest and care for their young.

8. Great Crested Flycatcher

brown and yellow flycatcher

This flycatcher is an irregular summer resident in Central Texas and is almost rare in the rest of the region.

Unlike other breeding species of its kind that favor upland habitats, this bird, like a Northern cardinal, prefers to inhabit exclusive riparian woodlands. This creature's field marks include a radiant yellow belly and the bottom part of its long tail.

It also has a prominent raised crest, which is how it got its name, a faint-colored throat, olive-colored back, and a gray breast.

The great crested flycatcher likes sitting on perches in treetops while scanning the area for flying insects. You have more chances of hearing this birdie than seeing it due to the bird's canopy-dwelling routines.

Its song comprises nonmusical notes that seem to come from the highest branch of an oak tree. It even has this distinct behavior of building its nest with snakeskins, which probably is this bird's way of safeguarding the site from potential predators.

9. Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler on a mossy stone

The Prothonotary warbler is a summer bird that enjoys the hardwood forest and wetlands along the coastal plain, together with some herons and woodpeckers. However, it is a rare spring and fall migrant in about half of eastern Texas and occurs casually in farther west.

Birders who might have spotted this warbler noticed it singing or taking nesting materials to a nest box.

It will immediately catch anyone's attention with its head and breast in radiant orange-yellow contrast. The bird's bottom part appears lighter with gray wings and tail. Hence, many call it the "Golden swamp warbler" for frequenting lowland swamps in South America every summer.

Like the house sparrow, this warbler is also a non-invasive cavity-nester that cannot hollow out holes themselves. These types of birds would generally take over cavities abandoned by woodpeckers.

Watch this interesting video of researchers about the Prothonotary Warbler:

10. Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler on a leafy branch

The yellow warbler is among the common Texas birds you will see during spring and fall migration throughout the state. It's a type of bird that would instead abandon the nest and start over again in some site than raise broods of parasitized nests.

Moreover, this warbler is a non-forest breeder that favors willow swamps or even thresholds of tidal marshes, meadows, and wet thickets. Its breeding range extends throughout North America and Central and South America during the cold season.

This yellow bird has an olive hue on the topmost section of its body with abundant orange streaks. It has a thin, pointed bill and pale-brown legs and toes. But when in flight, its outstretched wings have dark flight feathers with yellow borders.

Many refer to this creature as one-of-a-kind since it has a dominant yellow plumage than any other wood-warbler in North America.

The yellow warbler also likes feeding on insects, and their larvae also eat some fruits at times. If you're lucky, you might even hear its male singing a cheerful song while on a sunny perch. It likes a constant source of clean water where it can drink and bathe to its heart's desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do goldfinches migrate from Texas?

There are many American goldfinch species throughout North America, and they are more abundant compared to regular winter residents. It explains why many birders in San Antonio typically notice increased American goldfinches in their region at the beginning of the cold season.

These seed-eaters come to Texas from October through April, commonly appearing at bird feeders in their non-breeding plumage when they arrive. Eventually, these goldies will start migrating towards their breeding grounds farther north in spring.

Lesser goldies, however, stay in Central Texas throughout the year. Nonetheless, to refer to any finch as residents would sometimes be a bit of a stretch. All these finches migrate from place to place where abundant food sources are readily available.

What does it mean when you see a yellow bird?

A yellow bird is associated with joy and a positive outlook on life for different cultures worldwide. It is an expression of psychological and spiritual freedom. 

In addition to representing optimism, seeing a yellow bird can mean energy, joy, intelligence, warmth, and increased self-awareness. Although for some, the context depends on what type of bird you see.

The canaries symbolize the beginning of a new relationship or growing intimate with a significant other, while a yellow finch represents peaceful days ahead.

How do you attract yellow finches?

Tiny seeds such as millet, cracked corn, or thistle are magnets for attracting songbirds like the American and lesser goldie. It would not hesitate to stop by a fruit feeder for a quick snack.

Try hanging a seed sack with Nyjer thistle seeds if you plan to feed goldies exclusively. Unlike other finches, these yellow birds can cling to such feeders with their feet. It is not unusual to see such finches hanging upside-down as they feed.

Put some baffles on these feeders to keep nuisance birds away, like the blue jay and even the grackles.

Goldies also favor grasses and weedy plants. These finches enjoy seed-bearing flowers too. Lastly, set up a birdbath because these creatures would love a quick sip and hearing the splashing sound of water.

You're much more likely to attract goldies and many other birds to your yard if you turn it into an inviting bird habitat they can't resist.

Read Also: Texas Red Birds

Final Thoughts

Travel leads to more extraordinary discovery, increased skills, and awareness, especially when learning more about birdlife. Do not forget, though, that you are never too far from new learnings, even from your backyard.

A bird's changing plumage (such as the American goldfinch) or maturing from juvenile to adult plumage would make them seem like an entirely distinct species.

Therefore, we provide detailed guides such as this one to help you identify different Texas birds. The state is rich in diverse birding spots, including Hill Country, Calhoun County, Pineywoods, and more. Let's not forget Fort Hood, a welcoming home to many warblers and vireos.

Texas has a rich birdlife to provide exceptional bird-watching opportunities. Now birders can practice their birding skills for their entire lives without having to go far from home.

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