Common yellowthroat. (Matt Tillett)

“Wichety, wichety, wichety,” a bird sang from deep within the bramble. Mud sucked at my boots as I took two steps closer. The unseen bird changed from its song to a sharp “Chedp.” I heard it call three more times before the bird popped into sight and perched on a raspberry branch. “Chedp, chedp!” it scolded.

Its black mask, erect tail and its sharp, scolding call made the bird seem bigger, and certainly bolder, than its 1/3-ounce weight warranted. Clearly I’d gotten too close. I suspected its mate and nest were hidden deep in the bramble.

As I backed away, I admired its bright yellow throat which stood out in contrast to its black mask. The bird dropped back into the thicket. Who would have guessed that with its yellow throat and black mask, it could disappear so completely back into the brush. I could still hear its angry “Chedp!” I smiled and imagined the bird trying to say, “Move along. Don’t make me come back out there!”

The common yellowthroat (photo by Matt Tillett) is a sparrow-sized bird that migrates here from Central America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. It prefers brambles and thickets for its nest sites and seems to especially like damp, wet places. This is one of the more common warblers in our area and across the United States.

“Common” does not mean it’s easy to see. Its small size, the brambles where it lives, and its olive-green color makes it difficult to find. Listen for its song or its bold, almost aggressive chip-call when an intruder gets too close. With a little patience, you may get a glimpse when this little bird pops into sight.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust which celebrates 30 years conserving the natural areas of the Mahoosuc Region. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, or at To learn about events or to contact James, email [email protected]

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