Warbler

A Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle).

OklahomaMesonet recorded 0.01 inches of rainfall in Stillwater for the past seven days.

Payne County rare bird alert had one individual, which was an excellent example of a hybrid. The Snow x Ross’s Goose was smaller than the normal Snow Goose, but larger than the normal Ross’s Goose. It sported a medium grin patch with a clearly rounder shape for the Snow Goose but less round and steep for a Ross’s Goose. The bill was also smaller than a Ross’s Goose, though too large for a Snow Goose. There are lovely photos available for this hybrid on eBird if readers wish to see it. From time to time, we are fortunate to encounter interesting hybrids for various geese.

There were lovely views of all seasonal birds for the past week, including the usual irruptives to make it interesting – Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Cedar Waxwing.

This week, writer is highlighting one of our winter migrants, the Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler, which actually was known as the given title years ago, until all four North American species were lumped together as one – Audubon’s (from the west) and Myrtle, the non-migratory Mexican Black-fronted Warbler, and Goldman’s Warbler of Guatemala.

Since Ernst Mayer wrote his 1942 landmark book, Systematics and the Origin of the Species, speciation has become more complex, as it is easier to see the history of DNA interactions than to physically see who mates with whom. To simplify, both the mating behavior and underlying genetics play into speciation. Read the book to learn more about the biological species concept.

Another early and slightly better name for the species, was yellow-crowned wood warbler reflecting the scientific name coronata and was based upon the old Edwards name golden-crowned fly-catcher.

Throughout the eastern US, this bird is about the first to arrive in spring and the last to depart in the fall, often remaining all winter at select locations. It can be seen in both non-breeding and breeding dress in certain parts of the south, and no wonder that it is so well known.

It is one of the few warblers that can subsist for long periods upon berries and seeds, although it prefers insects when it can get them. When wintering in the interior, they can and do subsist upon the berries of red cedar (principal food), berries of poison ivy, honeysuckle, dogwood, and many others. They are known to drink sweet sap, eat sunflower and goldenrod seeds, and they are responsible for the eradication of many insect pests.

They help to disseminate red cedar, digesting only the outer covering of the berry.

They can behave like creepers, often seen hanging on vertical bark, usually found upon larger branches. They will also alight upon trees and run up them several feet from the ground.

One of the latest to move south, it is one of the most leisurely in migration, and upon occasion, the earliest arrivals reach the Gulf States before the last ones have left Canada.

Happy birding!

Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.

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