Project Chekov: Yellow-Rumped Warbler and Yellow Finch

If you would been around LifeIntrigued headquarters today you would have seen one very panicked owner tearing his hair out.  Things were going so well and we could see the end in sight for Project Chekov.  Just a couple more posts and the featured birds were already worked up in the digital dark room and ready to go.   Just a little bit more work and pop that bottle of Moscato…. and then the wheels fell off.  I went to research some details on the Yellow Finch which was the targeted featured bird of the day.  A few clicks later and a dash for the reference books informed me that there really IS NOT a Yellow Finch.  They are really named American Goldfinches.  Since I’ve been a little kid I’ve always referred to them as Yellow Finches – WTF.  Hell, they certainly are not Golden – they are YELLOW.  Panic, sweating, shaking .. was this all for not!?!

Then it hit me, there may be a way out, but it was going to take some digging to find TWO shots out of the entire collection of Yellowstone National Park shots taken last May.  There was a chance encounter with a bird – a fleeting moment I was able to capture in the tin.  An hour or so later I was staring at this:

Every photographer has a few shots that he or she will look back on with a huge grin on their face.  This is one of those for me.  We were with our friends (Dr. Giselle and David) on a trail coming back from photographing a waterfall.  All of a sudden an intriguing bird flew in our direction and landed on a nearby branch.  Instincts took over, the Beast was pressed into action, settings manipulated in a flash of an eye and the shutter was pressed.  I had time to press the shutter one more time and that bird was gone baby gone.  If you haven’t worked with big glass before you probably do not understand what a miracle it was to get a single crisp shot under those conditions much less two.  Based on the coloring, I was pretty sure what it was at the time but made a mental note to get back and verify it as soon as possible – that mental Post-It-Note must have flown off on the way back to the car because I forgot about it until today.  The yellow word was a double reminder for “Yellowstone” and the “Yellow” bird that we found there.

A little bit of digging in the reference book brought a huge sigh of relief from me – sure enough it was Yellow-Rumped Warbler.  Now that was close – a 5 second encounter on a trail out in the Wilderness had saved nearly a month long project.  For the curious, this appears to be the Audubon variety based on the strong yellow marking on the neck and missing the white eyebrow.  It was located in their Summer/Migration spot so guessing it had just arrived being that it was May when we were there and still pretty cold in the area.  All I can say to that bird is thank you thank you thank you for a brief but project saving encounter.  Oh, and of course another check mark in the birding list (technically there was a poor shot while covering a previous Yellowstone shot but we’ll consider these better shots as the official sighting).

Hit the jump to read about the originally planned featured bird

Okay, since the images were already worked up, figured I’d go ahead and put them out there for you.  So, here is the American Goldfinch more appropriately referred to around here as the Yellow Finch.

Think this particular Finch was taken late in the year and might have been in the process of losing the bright yellow markings  – or possibly a female – tough to tell at this point.  One thing for sure, this little girl was a poser.

These birds are a staple at our feeders coming in flocks to gorge on the sunflower seeds.  They really tend to brighten up the place during the Summer months, but towards late fall and Winter they blend in with the boring Sparrows.  Typically they keep a fairly docile demeanor and get along with all the other birds that frequent the feeders.  This is why I was so surprised when I captured one bird giving the riot act to a Bunting and a female Grosbeak.

I don’t speak bird so not able to give you any insights into the disagreement, but from the looks of it, the other birds were not taking it too seriously.  They just sat there and chomped away.

This prompted a more directed discussion that led to one of my favorite bird feeder pictures.  Nice balance of color and unique behavioral shot – I likey.  As you can tell, the Bunting and the Grosbeak STILL didn’t give a crap about this tiny yellow bird with its panties in a wad.  Surprising thing is the Goldfinch had not really been featured before so we’ll go ahead and put a check mark there now.

It was a close one today for Project Chekov but all turned out well.  The end is near and I can almost taste it.  Stay alert boys and girls, you never know what gold you’ll find on a trail.

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