Bird of the Week, October 5, 2012
Belding's Yellowthroat


Belding's Yellowthroat by Pete Morris


The Belding's Yellowthroat is a marsh-dwelling warbler with an olive-green back and bright yellow belly; the adult male also has a black mask and yellow forecrown. It is similar to the more northerly Common Yellowthroat in appearance, habits, and song.


This non-migratory, Mexican endemic builds a cup nest of dead cattails, usually attached low on the stem of a living cattail, where it lays its clutch of 2-4 eggs. Like other yellowthroats, it forages low in vegetation for insects and other small invertebrates.


The freshwater habitats occupied by the Belding’s Yellowthroat are under threat from human activities, including accidental and intentionally-set fires, reed-cutting for building materials, and drainage for agriculture and cattle ranching. Surveys have found it at more sites than previously thought, but its tiny range and small, fragmented population make it vulnerable to extreme weather events such as hurricanes.


Recommended conservation measures include increased habitat protection and creation of new marshland. Re-introductions have also been suggested, and ecotourism may be a means by which income can be generated for the protection of key areas of habitat.


The Belding's Yellowthroat is a flagship species for conservation efforts in Baja California, Mexico, which also includes many arid areas and coastal islands.




Photo: Pete Morris; Range Map, NatureServe