The Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird, widely considered the most atypical member of the New World warbler family, though the long-standing suspicion is that it does not actually belong there. Its placement is not definitely resolved. It is the only member of the genus Icteria.
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. If seen, this species is unlikely to be mistaken for any other bird. [Wikipedia]
The Yellow-breasted Chat offers a cascade of songs in the spring, when males deliver streams of whistles, cackles, chuckles, and gurgles with the fluidity of improvisational jazz. It’s seldom seen or heard during the rest of the year, when both males and females skulk silently in the shadows of dense thickets, gleaning insects and berries for food. The largest of our warblers, the chat is a widespread breeder in shrubby habitats across North America, venturing to Central America for the winter. [All About Birds]
Yellow-breasted Chat Facts [All About Birds]
- The Yellow-breasted Chat has traditionally been placed in the New World warbler family, although it is an unusual one: it’s larger than other warblers, has a more varied repertoire of songs and calls, and also differs in certain aspects of behavior and anatomy.
- Though a small percentage of males have two mates at once, most appear to be monogamous during the breeding season. Female aggression may help enforce this monogamy. However, some infidelity happens behind the scenes: in a Kentucky study, one-third of nests contained at least one chick sired by another male.
- Brown-headed Cowbirds often lay their eggs in nests of Yellow-breasted Chats. Some breeding pairs will desert a parasitized nest, while others accept the cowbird egg and raise the chick as their own.
- The oldest Yellow-breasted Chat on record, a female, was at least 11 years old when recaptured and released at an Arizona banding station in 2015.