Sunday, November 22, 2009

Warbler Guy: We've missed you since your 11/7 post? What's up? When will you return? Inquiring warbler fans wish to know (!)

OK, OK, I'm guilty as charged.

My college class that I'm teaching ("Ornithology") has been my child to babysit for lately -- and I'm not complaining.

The field trips are fun as a complement to the Powerpoint slide shows I present during class (Merritt College).

BUT I'm on my next article that you'll soon see here:

How the Old World warblers (the Sylvids) have been split and re-organized.

It's an interesting development.

Yet it also requires a reading length almost equal to scanning every name in the NY City phone book.

In other words, it's a time drag and, tongue in cheek intended, a near Master's Degree in descriptive research to learn about the Old World Warbler taxonomy changes.

I'll be back at you soon.....and, meanwhile, enjoy the birding and our wood-warbler friends.

Regards, Daniel

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Warbler Guy, which warblers are the most common to see at the upcoming Christmas Bird Count (CBC) events?

Oh, “yes,” Floyd D. in Davenport, IA. . . Wood-warblers are often detected in non-warm weather areas where the 2009-2010 CBC events will soon happen. (Given Floyd also wonders if "seeing warblers during a northern USA CBC is even possible?" I'll answer that phase, too, below.)

Before I mention the highest wood-warbler species totals for the most recent (2008) CBCs, consider how cold weather-challenged states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and others routinely report Yellow-Rumped Warbler for selected CBCs.

As you may already know, upon moving south from the aforementioned states, it’s increasingly likely that your CBC experience will include sightings of winter-challenged-weather songbirds such as wood-warblers.

As a result, CBCs occurring in, for example, southeastern USA states typically document more total Yellow-Rumped individuals (i.e, Yellow-Rumped Warbler may and can be found annually during CBC viewing periods (mid-Dec.-early Jan.) in almost every eastern state east of the Mississipi River except for Minnesota and some to many New England states.

Other COMMONLY detected wood-warbler species seen during CBCs include Orange-Crowned, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Palm, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Yellow-Throated, Black-and-White, and Ovenbird.

Now, Warbler Guy presents a strange brew of wood-warbler totals from the 2008 CBC season and for various North American “Tally Rally” totals:

- 17 Painted Redstart (Arizona’s Green Valley-Madera Canyon CBC);
- 15 American Redstart (Florida’s Coot Bay-Everglades CBC);
- 70 Black-and-White (Florida’s Coot Bay-Everglades)
- 524 Common Yellowthroat (Texas’ Guadulupe River Delta-McFaddin Family Ranches CBC)
- 17 Wilson’s Warbler at the coastal Orange Co., CA CBC

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.