Plants and Animals

Setophaga dominica Yellow-throated warbler

Key Characteristics

The Yellow-throated warbler is medium-size warbler with a bright yellow throat and breast. It ranges from 4.5-4.75 inches (11.4-12.1 cm) in length. The upper parts of its body are gray and the area around its eyes is has distinctive black and white markings. Because it spends all of its time in the treetops, however, it is best identifies by its loud, persistent, musical song, which is similar to that of the Indigo bunting. Its song is a series of slurred notes that accelerate while dropping in pitch and then ends with an abrupt high note - "teedle teedle teedle teedle tew-tew-tew -- tew-twee".

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 1 1999
Berrien 3 2014
Muskegon 1 1999
Ottawa 1 1999
St. Joseph 2 1997

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


In Michigan, the Yellow-throated warbler occurs in contiguous tracts of mature bottomland and floodplain forest. They use sycamores as nest trees, placing their nests high in the tree and far out on the branches. Elsewhere in their range, they nest in cypress swamps and southern pine forests.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Preserve and expand existing floodplain habitat and reduce human encroachment into the floodplain. This includes no logging of sycamores within the floodplain and very limited logging of other species outside of the nesting season. Maintain a natural stream channel with soft, vegetated banks so it can meander and periodically overtop its banks which will allow regeneration of the sycamores that the bird relies on for nesting. Reducing the levels of pollution in the streams may also increase prey abundance and reduce any toxic effects on the birds. Any construction activities within 1/2 mile of known breeding locations should be scheduled for the non-breeding season (August to March).

Active Period

Migration from third week of April to first week of May

Migration from first week of August to third week of September

Nesting from second week of May to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

Conduct point counts or follow a transect while listening for singing males. Floating/canoeing down rivers is an effective survey method because of the close association with floodplain forests that support large sycamores and the efficiency with which a large area may be covered.

Point counts or transect

Survey Period: From third week of April to fourth week of May

Time of Day: Morning (sunrise)


Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • Dunn, J. and K. Garrett. A Field Guide to Warblers of North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 672pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.