Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)


French: Paruline masquée German: Weidengelbkehlchen Spanish: Mascarita común

Turdus Trichas


, 1766,

northern America = Charleston, South Carolina


Sometimes treated as conspecific with G. beldingi, G. rostrata and G. flavovelata. Has hybridized with G. philadelphia. Race chapalensis sometimes considered to represent a separate species. Geographical variation complex within huge range; up to 29 or more races have been described, many of these too poorly differentiated to warrant recognition. Recent work using mitochondrial DNA suggests W and E groupings of present species may be closer to other congeners than each other#R; subspecies groups adopted here based on recent vocal study#R, which shows degree of overlap with just-mentioned genetic work; further study required. Proposed races yukonicola (described from Jarvis R, in SW Yukon) and brachidactylus (“N provinces” of USA) sometimes regarded as worthy of recognition, but presently treated as synonyms of, respectively, campicola and nominate; in Mexico, riparia (Tesia, on R Mayo, in S Sonora) synonymized with chryseola, but perhaps merits recognition. Type locality previously listed as Maryland, based on reference to a 1702 publication now shown to apply instead to Setophaga dominica. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. t. arizela Oberholser, 1899 – Pacific coastal region from extreme SE Alaska S to C California; migrates to area from California S to NW Mexico (Baja California and N Sonora).
  • G. t. sinuosa Grinnell, 1901 – San Francisco Bay area of California; in winter locally also along California coast, mainly to S of the bay.
  • G. t. scirpicola Grinnell, 1901 – extreme SW USA and adjacent NW Mexico (N Baja California and extreme NW Sonora).
  • G. t. campicola Behle & Aldrich, 1947 – interior NW North America from SW Canada (S Yukon E to W Ontario) S in USA to Idaho and NW Nebraska; migrates to SW USA and N Mexico, at least.
  • G. t. occidentalis Brewster, 1883 – Western Yellowthroat – interior SW USA (S from E Oregon and Kansas); winters SW USA, W Mexico and Guatemala.
  • G. t. trichas (Linnaeus, 1766) – Eastern Yellowthroat – SE Canada (WC Ontario E to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) and S in USA to E Texas and SE Virginia (excluding SE coastal regions); migrates to wintering area from S USA S to Costa Rica (casually S to adjacent NW South America) and Caribbean.
  • G. t. typhicola Burleigh, 1934 – SE USA coastal belt N of Florida and Gulf of Mexico coast; non-breeding also around Gulf coast S to E Mexico (Veracruz).
  • G. t. insperata Van Tyne, 1933 – S Texas (lower Rio Grande Valley S of Brownsville).
  • G. t. ignota Chapman, 1890 – coastal plain of S USA (SE Louisiana E to Florida).
  • G. t. chryseola van Rossem, 1930 – SW USA (S Arizona E to W Texas) and N Mexico (S to S Sonora and Durango); non-breeding also slightly farther S.
  • G. t. modesta Nelson, 1900 – W coast of Mexico from C Sonora S to Colima.
  • G. t. melanops S. F. Baird, 1865 – Mexican Yellowthroat – C Mexico from Zacatecas and N Jalisco E to Veracruz and Oaxaca.
  • G. t. chapalensis Nelson, 1903 – L Chapala (E Jalisco), in SW Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5–13 cm; 7·6–15·5 g. Male nominate race has broad black mask from forehead back through and below eye to side of neck, bordered above and... read more


    Song loud and rollicking, with distinctive rhythm, e.g. as “witchity witchity witchity witch... read more


    Most races occur throughout year in wide variety of lowland wet habitats, such as cat-tail (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds almost entirely on insects and other arthropods, especially spiders (Araneae). Grit has been found in stomach contents, but not clear... read more


    Season Apr–Jul; appears to be regularly double-brooded in S Minnesota and S Texas, and this may be the case throughout much of range... read more


    Resident to long-distance migrant. Nominate race (except some S populations), campicola,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally abundant throughout range. Highest breeding densities in E Canada and NE USA; estimates here include 244 males/km²... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).