Sunday, April 20, 2014

Warbler Guy, do female warblers sing? Singing warbler females are common?

Nice question, Jeremiah....Answer: Among the 114 New World wood-warbler species,
I've read at least two sing: Yellow and American Redstart, according to Kimball Garrett's and Jon Dunn's "Warbler Field Guide" (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

(Yellow Warbler above is a male; below is a female Yellow Warbler. Both sing.)

This guide is excellent and an essential companion for warbler enthusiasts.

Since its publishing date in 1997, it's possible more female wood-warbler species have been detected, though I've not read about any new discoveries.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Warbler Guy, are Myrtle and Audubon Yellow-rumped Warbler their own species? Or subspecies?

Fine question, Jerry (in Chicago).

As brief background, in 2011 the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) voted down a measure that would have split Yellow-Rumped Warbler into two, three or four species*.

Many of you already know the Yellow-rumped Warbler currently occurs as four subspecies (according to many researchers): the “Myrtle” group (coronata), and the “Audubon’s” group (auduboni), “Black-fronted” (nigrifrons), and “Goldman’s” (goldmani)

The taxonomy of these Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies was under consideration in 2011 for change by an AOU committee and, currently, is not under consideration for a status change by this committee (according to my "sources").

(NOTE  #1: In the N.A. Birds Online account for this species, the following additional subspecies is described in the "Myrtle group (below photo)":  Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies: D. c. hooveri (McGregor, 1899). This subspecies breeds in central and s.-central Alaska, se. Alaska, Yukon Territory, Mackenzie, and nw. British Columbia; intergrades with auduboni known from Stikine River, AK (Gibson and Kessel 1997). Like nominate coronata, slightly larger, with longer wing (minimum wing length 73.5 mm in females, 75.5 mm in first-year.

(Audubon's Yellow-rumped subspecies appears in photo, below.)

males, and 78.0 mm in adult males); more streaked below (Alternate-plumaged males) or paler brown (females). Characters broadly clinal where range meets that of nominate coronata; for this reason, hooveri not recognized by Hubbard (1970). More recently, hooverimaintained as valid (Godfrey 1986Gibson and Kessel 1997, R. Dickerman and P. Unitt pers. comment.

NOTE #2: The IOC splits two subspecies in this group and recognizes Audubon's and Myrtle as two species).

(* = The AOU vote was 7–4 against any divisions of the Yellow-rumped complex. The committee members suggested the need for further genetic analysis and determination of the extent of interbreeding in the subspecies’ contact zones where the “Myrtle” group (coronata), and the “Audubon’s” group (auduboni) mix in western Canada. The status of two other subspecies — “Black-fronted” (nigrifrons), and “Goldman’s” (goldmani) remain unchanged.

Black-fronted is a resident in Mexico, and Goldman’s occurs only in southernmost Mexico and Guatemala. Neither of these two subspecies has been observed in the American Birding Association geographical area.)

As for why, the IOC considers the Myrtle and Audubon's to represent two distinct species, the following 10 naming rules appear to guide the IOC's reasons for adopting name choices, with one or more the reason why the IOC divides the Yellow-rumped Warbler into two species: Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler and Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler:

1.            Each species should have one name only >>
2.            A species name must be unique >>
3.            Anglicized names are acceptable >>
4.            Established names should prevail >>
5.            Local names should not have priority >>
6.            Offensive names should be changed >>
7.            Patronyms are acceptable without bias for or against >>
8.            Simplicity and brevity are virtues >>
9.            Use of the word “island” will be limited >>
10.        Species in the same genus may have different group names >>

Monday, March 31, 2014

Warbler Guy, your publicity agent told me you were interviewed about San Francisco Bay birding trips recently on Earth News Journal. True?

Yes, Grace.....

To hear a 2014 Earth News Journal interview where I highlight birding trip options in the SF Bay Area, please visit the following link: 

Now back to our regular warbler programming. 
Happy spring birding! Daniel

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Warbler Guy: What's a good web site for warbler songs? Songs of warblers are best heard on the web and who explains warbler calls and songs?

Here's where you should know about, James (in Vancouver):

GR8 web site...Type in the name of the bird species you wish to hear and, amazingly, dozens of different recordings from acoustic birders appear. Explore the list by scrolling down to read descriptions of each recording, then click on the ones you wish to hear.

A fantastic web site related to bird song ecology and excellent articles is:

Here, Nathan Pieplow, professional sound recordist and birder extraordinaire, features incisive accounts related to bird songs and calls.

His latest post from 2/28/14 notes excellent news with the announcement that the Florida Museum of Natural History now allows users access to is large collection of bird sound recordings. To find it, go to:

To read more about bird song ecology, I recommend Dr. Donald Kroodsma's book The Singing Life of Birds.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warbler Guy: Migrating warblers cross the Gulf? Or do warblers migrate by land? Both ways?

Great question, Eric.

Answer: both, as the majority of breeding eastern and midwestern USA wood-warblers migrate north over the Gulf of Mexico (and, hence, are often referred to as "Trans-Gulf Migrants."

A couple of land-migrating only wood-warblers that avoid the 500-mile over-water excursion include Nashville Warbler and Mourning Warbler.

A qualification: western USA breeding wood-warbler species may travel different flyway routes that never require them to travel over large bodies of water such as the Gulf.

(ABOVE: Blackpoll Warbler autumn migration route (right-most arrows) and spring migration routes (arrows shown in middle of map. Non-breeding range = blue color in S. America; breeding territory range = orange color.)

More on this subject shall appear as an upcoming new post here soon. Please check back.

Please note:

A fine, general overview of this migration phenomena is accessed at:

A more refined, scientific treatise on this subject is available at:

Plus, here's a species-by-species map of wood-warbler migration tendencies:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fab Five Warbler Photo Quiz (#7)

Warbler Guy, you have not presented a warbler photo quiz for a spell. Can you photos of warblers soon? Or may I quiz you with an email regarding photos of warblers I have but cannot identify?

OK, Louis (in Tampa), here's five wood-warbler species photos. Can you name them from top to bottom? Post your answers by clicking on the "Comment" text button, below. (Answer will appear here by April 15, 2014. Please check back after readers have a chance to see this post and vote.)

Answers To Recent Quizzes (on right column of this blog as you scroll down)

Here's correct answers to the latest quizzes that appear on the right column as you scroll down (from the most recent quiz to earlier ones):


Which of the following species is not a member of the wood-warbler family?

Answer: Olive Warbler


Warblers eat the following:

Answer: All of the above: seeds, fruit, and insects
(though some species primarily eat ONLY insects during the breeding season and, then, after returning to "wintering" grounds may eat fruit in combination with insects (e.g., Cape May Warbler) )


What's the name of an app where diverse wood-warbler photos can be seen when you wish to examine how immature/first-year ones appear?

Answer: Both iBird Pro and Sibley Birds sometimes host immature/first-year photos for some wood-warbler species.