yellow-rumped warbler

Photographing Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers in the Wetlands by Todd Henson

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler perched on a branch.

On a recent trip to a wetlands park I was fortunate to watch and photograph several Yellow-rumped Warblers of the Myrtle variety. These are a beautiful bird with a yellow patch on their rump, the top of their head, and on their sides. Their back is grey, and the rest of their body is white with black patches and stripes.

Side and underside of a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler in the brush.

I worked to create photographs of these warblers from every angle I could, trying to capture images of their identifying characteristics. This makes it easier to identify the species from field guides.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler facing forward and singing.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler facing forward, head facing the left.

I also worked to create as many pleasing images as I could. In one location I noticed how the warbler would return over and over again to the same set of perches. I found a perspective to shoot this location that gave me a nice, simple, out of focus background. Then I just watched and waited. I readied my camera when the warbler appeared to be returning to the perches I’d seen it use before. And then I began photographing, hoping to capture some nice gestures, some pleasant angles.

Side view of a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler perched in the brush.

There is skill in photographing wildlife. Some of that skill is learning the behavior of the animal, learning its patterns and anticipating what it might do next. Some of the skill is knowing your gear, getting it setup and ready.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler perched on a tree, head looking down towards the ground.

But there is also luck in photographing wildlife. You can’t control the animal. It will do what it wants. Luck will play a part in whether you see the gestures you might wish for. Luck will play a part in whether the animal actually does return to the same spot or whether it decides to move on to another location.

Profile of a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler perched on a branch.

Finally, patience plays a huge part in photographing wildlife. The animal may very well return to the same location, but it might not do so right away. You may have to wait many minutes, or in some cases hours for the animal to return. It may not return at all that day. You may need to try again another day, over and over again, watching and waiting, but never giving up.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler perched on a tree, getting ready to fly.

A top down view of a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler on the side of a tree.

But photographing wildlife is worth it. You get to spend some small part of your day out in nature watching, learning about, and creating images of all these beautiful creatures. It doesn't get much better than that!



The resources below contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers During Spring Migration by Todd Henson

Yellow-rumped Warbler of the Myrtle variety. Notice the white throat. You can also see the 2 yellow patches on either side of its breast.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are a common spring migrant as they move north to build nests and breed. We found a group of them in a local wildlife refuge along the same trail as the Palm Warblers I recently wrote about. The trail was a dirt road separating a small wooded area and a grassy/bushy area. The Yellow-rumped Warblers, along with the Palm Warblers, were flying back and forth between the trees and the bushes and grassland.

Yellow-rumped Warbler facing forward, giving a good view of its white throat and the yellow patches either side of its breast.

The Yellow-rumped Warblers in these photographs are of the Myrtle variety, which is more common along the eastern United States. The Audubon variety is more common in the west. One way of telling them apart, at least when they are distinct species and not in the band where they intermingle, is the color of their throat. Myrtle Warblers typically have a white throat, whereas Audubon Warblers typically have a yellow one.

Yellow-rumped Warbler looking down, showing off the yellow stripe on top of its head.

If you look at each of the photos you’ll also see the 4 patches of yellow commonly found on Yellow-rumped Warblers. Their name comes from the yellow patch on their rump, but they also have a small patch of yellow on the top of their head, and a patch on either side of the breast.

Backside of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, showing its namesake yellow rump. Also notice it is tilting its head to the left showing off the yellow stripe on top.

These were, perhaps, the first Yellow-rumped Warblers that I photographed. They are an attractive bird and I look forward to creating better photographs of them in the years ahead.


Resources

The links below are affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

If you’d like to learn more about Yellow-rumped Warblers, or any other warbler species, check out A Field Guide to Warblers of North America, one of the Peterson Field Guides. It’s over 650 pages, all devoted to warblers.

Or, if you’d like a more general field guide to birds look at the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. This is my favorite birding field guide. Another great one is the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America. See my Resources page for more info on the field guides I use.