Monday, November 2, 2009
Three Brief Warbler Questions......(BELOW)
(Drawing of Bachman's Warbler, left*)
(* = My monologue and one-liners about Bachman's Warbler and other topics follow.)
Here’s three brief questions that I’ve received recently. My humble apologies, but I’m hyper-uber busy with deadlines this week for field survey/biological work and teaching (i.e., I’m preparing to teach an Ornithology class at Merritt College that begins soon), so I’ve got a monologue of “one-liners” for answers, below.
1. Warbler Guy: How many wood-warbler (Parulidae Family) members are there within the A.O.U. checklist area (A.O.U = American Ornithological Union)?
Answer: 78 species, including some of the coolest names that even the best namers of cars would likely not have the ingenuity to produce: Fan-tailed Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, and Elfin-woods Warbler.
2. Why is Bachman’s Warbler still featured in some field guides (see nearby drawing)?
Answer: I don’t know and I remain puzzled – given that the most recent specimen was collected in 1949 in Mississippi and the last probable breeding pair was seen that same year in South Carolina. Note the last confirmed sightings were near Charleston, South Carolina from 1958 to 1961.
Therefore, if you wish to enliven a boring dinner cocktail party's conversation, then speak louder than normal while mentioning your sighting of this wood-warbler....(smile).
3. Warbler Guy, I know the “Old World” warblers are classified into the family Sylviidae, a different one (among 228 worldwide) than the “New World” wood-warblers family (Parulidae). Given the Sylviidae members primarily occur in a different hemisphere (e.g., where Europe is located), do some ALSO live in the “New World” (North, Central, South America)?
Answer: Yes, the A.O.U. checklist area (see #1 question, above)
includes 12 species, with your best chance for viewing a Sylvid member in Alaska during the summer when the Arctic Warbler is present (Note: A vagrant sighting of Dusky Warbler, a Sylviidae family member, occurred recently in the Santa Cruz, CA area.
Otherwise, good luck finding "Old World" warblers in the lower 48.
No worries, however. Most of our 114 or so wood-warblers in the Americas are prettier than their Old World classmates. We got lucky on the avian spin of the dice there. To wit, you don't hear about too many birders going to see warblers in Europe, correct? On the other hand, wood-warbler watching in the USA is peaking with the piqued interest of millions. Go to Point Pelee or Magee Marsh in the Midwest during the initial two weeks of May and you'll get my drift.