The Yellow-breasted Chat is the largest of the wood-warblers. It has a large, heavy bill, unlike many warblers; males and females look alike; and its unusual song has similarities to that of a Thrasher or an Oriole. The Yellow-breasted Chat does have typical warbler coloring, however, and is plain olive above with a yellow throat and breast and a white belly. It has a white line between its yellow throat and its olive-gray head.
Why did I choose this bird as the name of my Blog?
In the world of birders, it’s kind of an underdog bird, sometimes the butt of bird jokes. I have a soft spot in my heart for this misfit bird. Even Roger Tory Peterson himself comments…
“The Chat,” “seems more like a catbird or a mockingbird than a warbler.” - Roger Tory Peterson
Equally unwarblerlike are the Chat’s reclusive habits and loud, raucous voice. It frequents dense thickets and tangles of vines and is more often heard than seen. One writer called it the “buffoon of the brier patch,” for it sings a comedic medley of squawks, whistles, clucks, rattles, chuckles and pops.
Despite its lack of musical quality, the song does suggest that of the mockingbird, but it is less repetitive. Like the mockingbird, the Chat also sings frequently at night while on its breeding territory.
These anomalies have led many authorities to question the chat’s membership in the warbler clan. Some postulated relationships with manakins, vireos, tanagers and even honeycreepers, in addition to the suggested affinity to mockingbirds and other mimic thrushes.
hmmmm… seems like the Chat needs some reputation repair. We have officially launched a PR repair campaign here at the YBC. A donation task force is underway.