Yellow Breasted Chat


The yellow-breasted chat, known by its scientific name Icteria virens is a bird present in San Bernardino County. It is considered the most atypical member of the New World warbler family and is the only member of the genus Icteria.
Inhabiting dense thickets, scrubby habitats and woodland edges, the yellow-breasted chat is the largest species in the Paruline warblers, with an unmistakable song described as “an astonishingly loud jumble of harsh cackles, rattles, whistles and squeals.” Its call is similarly harsh and grating, sounding something lik “tchak.” The yellow-breasted chat has the lowest pitched voice of any of the warblers, which might be a consequence of its larger size.
Nesting from the southern-plains of Canada and throughout much of the United States to central Mexico during the summer, these birds migrate to lower Mexico and Central America in the winter, with some sporadically overwintering in mild-climated coastal areas.
This species reaches a total length of 6.7 to 7.5 inches and a wingspan of 9.1 to 10.6 inches. Body mass can range from 0.71 to 1.19 ounces. The relatively long, heavy bill is 0.51 to 0.63 inches. The tarsus is 0.98 to 1.22 inches. These birds have olive upperparts with white bellies and bright yellow throats and breasts. Other signature features of yellow-breasted chats are its large white eye-rings and blackish legs.
The yellow-breasted chat is a shy, skulking species of bird, often being only heard but not seen. The breeding habitats of this species are dense, brushy areas and hedgerows. The nests of these birds are bulky cups made of grasses, leaves, strips of bark, stems of weeds and lined with finer grasses, wiry plant stems, pine needles and sometimes roots and hair.
Yellow-breasted chats are ominvorous birds, and forage in dense vegetation. Mostly, this species feeds on insects and berries, including blackberries and wild grapes. Insects of up to moderate sizes, including grasshoppers, bugs, beetles, weevils, bees, wasps, tent caterpillars, ants, moths and mayflies, are typically predated and will be gleaned from dense vegetation.
These birds are not as monogamous as other warblers. In one study in central Kentucky, DNA fingerprinting revealed that 17% of 29 yellow-breasted chat nestlings were not sired by the male of the social pair and 33% of 9 broods contained at least 1 extra-pair nestling.

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