Yellow-Breasted Chat

Icteria virens

The Yellow-Breasted Chat seems more ‘oriole-like’ than ‘warbler-like’. The breeding habitat of this species is dense, brushy areas and hedgerows. The breeding range is throughout North America, from southern-plains Canada to central Mexico during the summer. They mainly migrate to Mexico and Central America, although some of their number may overwinter in coastal areas.

This species is no longer classified as a warbler (family Parulidae). In 2017 science moved the Yellow-Breasted Chat to its own family (Icteriidae), where it is the only species recognised in this newly created family group.

There are two subspecies of Yellow-Breasted Chat. I. v. virens breeds in eastern North America, and I. v. auricollis breeds in the west.

The vocal style of this bird has to be one of the strangest in the avian world. Their so-called song is a mixture of beeps, whistles, squawks and rattles that almost defy description. I think their sounds should be used to create a backup alarm for large vehicles. I’m sure anyone who’s heard this bird will know what I mean.

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