Robin Hood of Dauphin Island

Decided to play it safe today and take my miles on the hilly roads of Jubilee State Park. Getting lost TWICE in the same week would be too much for my ego to endure. Being very familiar with every pothole, tar blemish, dip, undulation, steep hill and deep valley in the park meant I could figuratively sit back and enjoy the run. Incredibly happy that my ’21 running goals were already checked off for the year – the 50K redemption check (link here), the 50M magnet proudly displayed on the back of the truck (that horror story is finally up on the mothership – link here) and blew past my 1200 miles threshold for the year at the end of November. Last year I had to pound out 50 mile weeks in late December to reach that goal ugh. If it gives you any indication of how much extra training it took for those ultras this year, I basically lost 7 weeks due to vacation and another 3-4 weeks due to injury and recovery and still hit the yearly goal a month ahead of plan – the pile of used of shoes is testament to the feat (see what I did there hehehe). Relied on either running friends or tunes to get through the normal every other day… every day a month out and two-a-days in the weeks leading up to the big runs. It is actually those running playlists that brings you today’s featured feathered friend.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Don’t think there is a running playlist on my phone that doesn’t have at least one Bryan Adams song on it (the rest can get quite aggressive). Talk about songs that have stood the test of time. If you can listen to songs like Summer of 69 or Cuts Like a Knife without singing along then you might be dead inside ha! I always have to glance around to make sure NOBODY is around so as not to embarrass myself ‘cuz I am not a singer and didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express. To my credit, I did marry an SAI member (opposites do attract). If you are still with the thread, this enjoyment from Adams led me to watch his Interview by Dan Rather last night. Absolutely despise Rather, but wanted to get an update on the Bryan with a ‘Y’. In that interview he talked about the I Do It For You song he wrote for the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie. Not a fan of that song, but to his credit, try to go to a wedding without hearing that. He joked that the people who asked him to write a song for that movie hated it and doesn’t play until the credits start rolling at the end.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Hit the jump to finally get to my 8 degrees on this smartly colored bird!

“Hey Bri (with an ‘I’), get to the point about today’s bird already!” Yeah, yeah, yeah – so here we go, I run a lot, I listen to music a lot on those run, Bryan (with a ‘Y”) is a staple in those playlists, watched an interview of him last night, Adams talked about his big sappy hit for the movie, a movie called Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, it hit me on the run today I had my own Hood of the Forest and that is how you are now looking at the Warbler Hood of Dauphin Island. As you can tell, I’ve gotten really, really good at keeping my mind OFF the fact I am torturing my body hehehe.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

In truth, the real name of today’s feature is a Hooded Warbler. Not sure where it keeps its quiver and supply of arrows though. Before my visit to Dauphin Island back in April, I had never seen or even heard of this particular Warbler. They spend their non-breeding season in Central America and the northern tip of South American along with most of the Caribbean Islands. In the spring they brave the difficult Gulf crossing at the dead of night to reach their favorite breeding areas in the eastern portion of the States. They pretty much draw a northern line at the top of the broke state of IL. It should be noted they go out of their way to avoid being seen by me in the Heart of Illinois – just curve right around it – nothing to see here, so sorry. Still, with all the time I spend outside of my home area in the state you would think I’d come across at least one – nope. It took a fallout in the Gulf Shores for me to witness my very first one.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Actually, there were a LOT more than just one. My tins were full of these Hoods to the point I already have plans for a part two next year. It only took the first encounter to get this bird’s forever name – Knotta Wilson’s. At first I thought I was looking at a Wilson’s Warbler which I have seen plenty of times (link here). They have similar yellow coloring (although on later review noticed the Hoods have a brighter yellow hue), and they both have a very black cap. Asked a birder standing near me if she could tell me what this was as the extended part of the black hood was throwing me off.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Always appreciative with the birding community – as is generally the case she politely replied it was a very beautiful Hooded Warbler. I always brace for the condescending response as if I didn’t belong to be standing anywhere near them and needed to go buy a reference book – probably should stop worrying about that as I can only think of handful of times that has ever happened. I’ve heard stories this might be more common across the pond, but stateside birders are a very pleasant bunch – those that aren’t I toss Ron’s direction ha!

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

So what about our Hooded friend here. It is pretty easy to spot the adult males, you are looking at one now – they have the jet black feathering that forms the hood. Females and immatures have a sparse top part of the hood, but it dissipates quickly as it starts down past the eye. It sort of reminds me of Big Horn Sheep as the black fades out in the shape of an adult male’s horns. The female shots didn’t make it into today’s collection – look for her in part 2. They are thicker than a lot of the Warblers I’ve seen especially in the neck area – they must have a really good football team.

Hooded Warbler found on Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Contrasting with the blinding yellow on the bellies and head, the backs of the Hooded are more olive green. According to Cornell, they will often reveal a set of inner black feathering (referenced as a black eye) and a white highlights on the outside of the tail. Theory is they flash these features to startle insects into exposing themselves. I was able to get you few shots of those white markings – the “black eye” wasn’t that visible from the angles I did get – something to focus on during the next encounter. These Warblers are a bit secretive choosing to spend a lot of time obscured by vegetation. Took me a while to get some clear shots as they rarely went too far off the forest floor. Never did get to hear one sing so I am not much help on that front. Cornell coded it as “Richie Rich, I’m right here”. I kind of hear that in their song samples – probably not something I could pick out in the field.

Hope you enjoyed the latest addition to my bird list. For those keeping score.. that is number two-niner-niner. Lastly, let me help you get this out of your head “I got my first real six-string, bought it at the five-and-dime. Played it ’til my fingers bled. Was the newbird for [2]’99”

Oh, to put the wonder to bed, in the interview, Bryan picked that year for the sexual reference – you knew it all along ha!

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