Garden News Blog

Birds of Brooklyn: Yellow-Rumped Warbler

During fall migration, starting around now and through the end of October, huge numbers of yellow-rumped warblers—sometimes hundreds at one site in a single day—will flood our area. This small grayish-brown and yellow bird is among the most common warblers in North America. In the East, it breeds north of New York City in the high elevations of the Adirondacks and in Canada and winters here and elsewhere, especially along the coast. The greatest local concentrations arrive on the barrier beaches of Long Island, but a good number pass through the Garden and Prospect Park—and some will stay for the winter.

As fall progresses, the yellow-rumped warbler transitions to its winter diet. As insects get harder to find, it starts eating berries, especially bayberries, also known as myrtle berries. (Old-time birders refer to this bird as the myrtle warbler.) There is an excellent chance that you’ll see some of these birds at BBG now, especially in the Native Flora Garden, as they feed in the bayberry bushes and other shrubs. The yellow-rump’s plumage is mostly brownish gray with white streaks, and as the name implies, it has a bright yellow rump that makes it fairly easy to spot and identify. Many birders refer to it by the pet name “butter butt.” Be sure to look for this delightful bird this fall!

The Birds of Brooklyn series looks at some of the most familiar and fascinating birds that call Kings County their habitat.

Joe Giunta has led bird walks for the Nature Conservancy and the South Fork Natural History Society and taught a beginning birding course for Summer Fest. He has birded extensively in the U.S., Panama, Belize, Venezuela, and Costa Rica.


  • Joe Giunta October 30, 2014

    This fall has produced a record number of yellow-rumped warblers in the NYC area. On Oct. 25, over 20,000 passed by the Robert Moses hawk watch tower on Fire Island. At one point in the morning, they were migrating at a rate of 500 a minute.

  • Joe Giunta October 20, 2014

    It has been an excellent fall migration for the yellow-rumped warbler. On Oct. 10 at Robert Moses State Park, 3,000 yellow-rumps were reported. Even better were the 6,900 yellow-rumps counted at Jones Beach on Oct. 19 and 8,000 counted at Riis Park/Ft. Tilden in Queens on the same date.

  • RX October 1, 2014

    Love learning about these gorgeous birds. Will definitely look for them around Brooklyn.

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Image, top of page:
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warblers (Setophaga coronata) arrive in huge numbers in Brooklyn, especially in coastal areas, in late September and October. Photo by Alan D. Wilson.