Wildlife Spotlight: Yellow Breasted Chat


Yellow Breasted Chat, Icteria virens

by Dan Potts, Salt Lake County Fish & Game Association


The logo for the organization that most think was the precursor to the Jordan River Commission, the

Jordan River Natural Areas Forum, was the yellow-breasted chat. This the largest of warblers has a

gorgeous yellow breast with a dark greenish-gray back and wings, grayish-white belly. Although it is

quite widespread here in the west, it is shy and quite rare and along the Jordan. Restoration efforts

along the river have attempted to recreate the dense riverside thickets and brush where this species is

usually found. The most notable characteristics of this unusual bird is that it appears to be wearing

white spectacles, males do a hovering display flight (their legs a dangling), and their amazing variety of

unusual calls, a jumble of clacks, whistles, toots, purring, mews, and squawks, some harsh, hoarse, and

throaty. They are the consummate ventriloquists! Very unusual, indeed, and a great find by any birder!