Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yellow Warbler

High time a bird showed up here; I was thinking I'd have to change the blog's name to Ohio Insects and Biodiversity. And we'll go with a charmer, a warbler that ranks high among many birder's favorites, I am sure.

One of the "problems" of being an inveterate traveler that nearly always has a camera slung around his neck is that finding blog material is never a problem. In fact, I can never put anywhere near all the stuff that I, at least, find cool on here. I took the following shots back on May 23 at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, and have intended to stick 'em up here ever since.

Luminescent lemon beacon of a bird, a male Yellow Warbler takes a breather in between spirited renditions of Sweet Sweet Sweet I'm So Sweet songs. Although this, along with the Common Yellowthroat, is Ohio's most common and widespread breeding warbler, it is still a fascinating bird. This one is perched in a fine specimen of Sandbar Willow, Salix exigua, and Yellow Warblers seem happiest when in damp soggy places populated with plenty of willows.

There are plenty of warblers that have yellow on them. This one is most deserving of having "yellow" as an official part of its name, though. No other warbler is so boldly sun-splashed as this one is, and the males are beautifully set off with chestnut streaking down the front. The scientific name is Dendroica petechia; the first part meaning "tree lover". Petechia is a commonly used medical term referring to reddish or purplish spots on the body, typically caused by minor hemorrhaging of capillary blood vessels. I guess the Yellow Warbler reminded Linnaeus of this malady when he named the critter back in 1766.

Yellow Warbler nest, probably that of the bloke in the previous shot. A finely woven and intricately sculptured cup indeed. Unfortunately, the lovely couple chose to site it in a shrub of Morrow's Honeysuckle, Lonicera morrowii, one of our worst offenders in the non-native plant department.

We have eggs, and GOOD NEWS! All look to be Yellow Warbler eggs. This species is heavily parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds, but, the warbler is much more clever than most. It is one of relatively few birds that can recognize cowbird eggs, and take action. Sometimes they'll just up and leave; in other cases the warblers will construct a new nest right on top of the one containing the cowbird egg. I remember seeing a photo somewhere of a stack of six or seven Yellow Warbler nests! Apparently neither cowbird nor warbler was quick to toss in the towel in that case. I hope that this nest successfully produced four warblers, which are now thinking of heading to tropical places if they're not already on the way.



dAwN said...

Ha ..Clever bird! Great post. I had no idea that they would stack the nest like that.
Thanks again for an informative and witty post.

Jack said...

Thanks for this post..I have not seen that Yellow Warbler till now..Nice post..

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