In winter, this species migrates to the southern and eastern United States. They are differential migrants with females migrating farther, increasing the proportion of females at lower latitudes in the Atlantic flyway. Females are smaller so they would not perform as optimally at colder, higher latitudes, and females avoid competition with the dominant males of the winter hierarchies by migrating farther. There is also no benefit for females to be among the first to return after winter, so migrating farther allows the males to return and establish territory a few weeks before their arrival. It stays year round in the Atlantic provinces of Canada.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler breeds from eastern North America west to the Pacific, and southward from there into Western Mexico. “Goldman’s” yellow-rumped warbler is a non-migratory endemic within the highlands of Guatemala and the black-fronted warbler is also a non-migratory Mexican endemic. The myrtle and Audubon’s forms are migratory, traveling to the southern U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for winters. Among warblers Audubon’s is by far the most widespread in North America in winter, and in the northern and central parts of the continent, it is among the last to leave in the fall and among the first to return and is an occasional vagrant to the British Isles and Iceland.