Sunday, November 23, 2014

Warbler Guy, has the Arctic Warbler been seen in California? Has the Arctic Warbler split into three species?

Yes and yes, Alex (in Cincinnati).

Based on blood analysis, and per recent passage by the American Ornithologists' Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature, the Arctic Warbler complex consists of the Alaskan breeding Arctic Warbler (that ranges across northern Eurasia as a nester)  Phylloscopus borealis  (including the previously named subspecies forms P. b. kennicottitalovkatransbaicalicus and hylebata). 

Two newly-defined species — the Kamchatka Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus examinandus and the Japanese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus xanthodryas — both split from the Arctic Warbler P. borealis.

The Kamchatka Leaf Warbler breeds in southern Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Hokkaido and the Kurile Islands. The Japanese Leaf Warbler breeds in Japan (except Hokaido). 

Although all three species — the Arctic Warbler, the Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, and the Japanese Leaf Warbler look similar in appearance, differences in their songs and calls were determining factors in the latest reorganization. 


As for California sightings of the Arctic Warbler, eight accepted occurrences are listed at the California Birds Record Committee web site, including the most recent one on southeast Farallon Island in 2012. 

References:

1. http://ebonph.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/ask-the-experts-the-arctic-warbler-splits/

2. http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/categories/articleitem.asp?item=741

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Warbler Guy, which birding web site is good to note rare warbler sightings? Rare bird alerts appear at one web site?

Ellie (in Boston), I think you may appreciate:

birdingonthe.net

It hosts ongoing Rare Bird Alert updates from around the country.

So, for example, if I wish to see a summary of rare birds called into the northern California hotline,
I go to this web site.

Here, the latest transcripts from 10/25 - 11/9/14 are featured.

No rare warbler sightings are present in this compendium, but it's still interesting to see reports of
CACKLING GOOSE, FALCATED DUCK, LEWIS'S WOODPECKER, 
TROPICAL KINGBIRD, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (possible), WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, 
CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR, and SNOW BUNTING. 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Warbler Guy, which West coast warbler vagrants are the most common ones to see? Do vagrant warblers also appear on the East Coast?

Good question, Hogie (in Portland).

Answer:

On the West Coast, say, on the Outer Point of Point Reyes in N. CA, the most typical East Coast vagrants to see in the fall include Palm, Blackburnian and Blackpoll. Other species that often appear annually: Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white, Magnolia, and Chestnut-sided Warbler.



(Blackpoll Warbler, shown above.)

As for the East Coast, it's not as common in autumn to have West Coast breeding warblers show up, but it does occur.

One reason relates to the orientation error displayed by migrating warblers. For many vagrants seen on the West Coast, the cause is due to first-year individual having an innate faulty brain, causing them to navigate south, then west — instead of south and, then, east toward Latin American expanses.
In traveling west by mistake, these newborn warblers continue as far as the land will take them — such as to the far western extreme of Point Reyes National Seashore. Unfortunately, these vagrants meet an unfortunate fate as they eventually continue moving west over the ocean.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is it possible to distinguish the call notes of Audubon’s vs. Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler during the non-breeding season where they occur together?

Is it possible to distinguish the call notes of Audubon’s vs. Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler during the non-breeding season where they occur together?

Answer:

Obviously, these birds are NOT now singing during the non-breeding season, but you do often hear loud chip or call notes where Audubon’s and Myrtle Yellow-Rumped Warbler patrol during the non-breeding season.

This is the case throughout the San Francisco Bay area where I live. In the fall and through March, most of the Yellow-rumped Warblers seen and heard occur as the Audubon's subspecies, though a Myrtle subspecies individual is sometimes spotted.

In many cases you can hear how the Myrtle (one of the subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler species) has a flatter and softer chip note than the Audubon’s.

The “ch” component of the call note is weaker for the Myrtle and it often gives many calls in rapid succession.

However, be careful. Intergrades (individuals that display visual characteristics specific to both Audubon’s and Myrtle) may announce call notes of the other subspecies. In other words, it’s possible to see a bird that looks like an Audubon’s, but it’s call note sounds like a Myrtle. This individual could likely be an intergrade.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Warbler Guy, here's a first-year Blackburnian Warbler, correct?

Yes, indeed: The banded warbler shown in these photos is a beautiful first-year Blackburnian Warbler.
(Photos courtesy of Dave Noel.)



Not the absence of bright orange in the throat and, instead, a hue of faint yellow. The varied head pattern is also a good clue.

Enjoy the migration and your sightings, everyone. Regards, Daniel

danieledelstein@att.net
warblerwatch.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Warbler Guy, why does American Redstart occur in California more often than most other so-called "East Coast" warblers? Is American Redstart a vagrant on the West Coast?

Excellent question, Joey (in Santa Monica).



Fact is, American Redstart is not always a vagrant in California when detected during the spring and late summer/fall.

That's because its far western home range into Alaska places it in the pathway of where some individuals may migrate up and down the West Coast.

Equally important, a northern California breeding population in the farthest region of the state has occurred in the past.

As a result, it's possible sporadic to annual breeders in this area could be southward migrating individuals that California birders detect, for example, in the outer point of Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County or at Bodega Head in Sonoma County.

That written, it's absolutely possible some Midwestern and East Coast American Redstarts are seen in California. The species is abundant and locally common throughout much of its range, so, given the plethora of newborns, it's possible some become disoriented as vagrants spotted on the West Coast.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Warbler Guy, why is it so challenging to find warblers now? Are warblers absent already?

Ned (in New York), there's good reasons why the forest seems devoid of wood-warblers this time of the year.



(Above, a molting non-warbler species)

One, many nesters have already completed their cycle, so their fledged newborns have dispersed. The adults themselves have done likewise, with some already migrating south.

Two, many songbirds molt before migrating south, so, because they are vulnerable while their new feathers grow, they remain out of view and less easy to spot.

Of course, some wood-warbler species are already in full southward migration, including such species as Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler, and Tennessee Warbler — among others.