Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)


French: Ictérie polyglotte German: Flötenstärling Spanish: Reinita grande

Turdus virens


, 1758,

America = South Carolina, USA


Proposed races longicauda (NW of range) and tropicalis (NW Mexico) are treated as synonyms of auricollis, and danotia (S Texas and N Mexico) is synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. v. auricollis (W. Deppe, 1830) – locally from SW Canada (S British Columbia, S Alberta and S Saskatchewan) S through W USA (E to W Kansas and WC Texas) to C Mexico (Baja California and Sonora S to at least Zacatecas); winters mainly in Mexico and Guatemala.
  • I. v. virens (Linnaeus, 1758) – extreme SE Canada (extreme SE Ontario) and locally E USA (from E & S Iowa, NE Kansas and S Great Lakes S to EC Texas and N Florida) and NE Mexico; winters mainly E Mexico S to W Panama.
  • Descriptive notes

    19 cm; 20·2–33·8 g. Large warbler with relatively stout bill and long tail. Male nominate race breeding has crown, nape and upperparts dark olive-green... read more


    Song a highly varied and loud jumble of cackles, rattles, mews, whistles and squeals, very... read more


    In breeding season dense thickets and scrub, typically on edge of deciduous woodland, preferring... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects and other invertebrates; also berries, wild grapes and other fruits, especially in autumn. Forages mainly by gleaning low... read more


    Season May to early Aug, egg-laying Apr (in S of range) to Jul; occasionally double-brooded in S. Double-brooding has been found to be... read more


    Short-distance to medium-distance migrant; some overwinter in S USA and N Mexico, within breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common over most of range. No evidence of long-term changes in population. Estimated breeding densities (per km2 in suitable... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens). 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 23 January 2020).