Yellow-breasted Chat display

The Waterthrush Blog

Growing up in New York, I longed to see and hear the Yellow-breasted Chat, a beautiful bird of southern thickets known more for its unusual song as its brilliant yellow-orange breast. While some chats can be found in New York, and even points farther north, their real stronghold is in the southeastern US. That’s where one can stand in one spot and be serenaded by several chats simultaneously.

I first got my chance with chats in the summer of 1990, when I found them near the southern tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Chats on the Eastern Shore use woodland edge, old fields, and shrubby wax myrtle thickets for breeding, sometimes right up to the edge of the salt marsh. My first chat I only heard: these birds are usually very difficult to see despite their bright colors. Their song, however, is distinctive. It starts like the call of a Fish…

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