Today comes with a bit of sadness as we are officially on our way back to the broke state of Illinois. Texas has seen fit to help us get acclimated to the cold weather my bones have been subjected to for the past (now) 55 years (yep, had a birthday recently). Been kind of zigzagging our way a bit. Bounced up to San Antonio to see where nearly 40 years ago the Prince of Darkness desecrated a sacred memorial dedicated to those who died at the Alamo whose remains are elsewhere. For those wondering, he did not actually take a leak on the Alamo itself rather across the street in the Alamo Plaza. According to Loudwire (link here), he was also wearing his future wife’s dress because she had taken his clothes to prevent him from doing something stupid. Doubt many people look at Ozzy Osbourne and think “genius”. While there, Linda checked the weather, saw the coming snow/sleet warnings and spun up the crazy train to get us back to South Padre Island to keep our water lines from freezing. Stayed above freezing thankfully, but definitely not conditions we drive all the way to Texas for! Make the most of it as I was able to add not one, but TWO lifers yesterday. While those are awaiting their stint in the digital darkroom, decided to get back on the bird wagon and feature this creature.
Our colorful specimen today also represents a +1 lifer for me. Unfortunately, not eligible for my “Average Year” tally as this Warbler was found on our trip to Dauphin Island last April. That trip is still paying off dividends and a quick look at my queue indicates it will be for many more posts this year as well.
Hit the jump for more on this secretive Warbler.
I’ve given a lot of flak to the bird naming org(s) for some of the crap monikers that have been placed on some of our North American birds. Especially annoying is the descriptive names for a feature you can’t even see with the naked eye (even aided by scopes/binoculars). Kudos to some degree for giving us a name that at least somewhat fits for our feature. What would be your guess for the first name of this New World Warbler? (contest not open to experienced birders)
If you answered Black Throat, I will happily nominate you for the American Ornithological Society’s North American Classification Committee (or AOSEJQUVAQWIZPTCC). Now I know why the bird names are so screwed up, they can’t even give their own org a realistic name – like “Birds Named Here”. By my quick count there are at least 9 in the Parulidae family (of 47) that possess a black throat, but only three have the black throat moniker. Pretty easy to get there from here. Is the bird bluish.. nope. Is the bird grayish..nope. Pat yourself on the back, you just identified today’s specimen as a Black-Throated [Green] Warbler. Sorry, I had to sneak in another adjective in there.
Seems like going with Yellow was just too damn easy and therefore “right out”. I can relent on this a bit as the chosen qualifier does refer to the back and crown of the Warbler. If you look at the two images before or the one below, you will notice those two features do have a greenish tint – your host would prefer “olive”, but I am not going to split feathers. Now, if you decided to ignore the obvious name approach and went purely feature by feature (yellow face, black eyeline, black streaking on body… black throat of course), you might come to two options as the Golden-Cheeked family member is pretty close. If you need to distinguish between those two options, the Golden has a black cap and surprise, a black back and not a green back. The fact I didn’t link to the Golden is a clue I do NOT have a Golden yet – apparently that one only hangs out in a small slice of Texas heartland (someday it will be mine and I shall call it “Cheeky”).
Always trying to be as accurate as possible with my readers (okay, maybe the acronym alphabet soup was a bit of a fib). I was surprised to see this bird in my tin. Yes, I was at Shell Mounds (with Ron I shall add), I was indeed shooting a Warbler, and yes, one predominantly yellow and black. Problem is, I was originally shooting a Yellow-Throated Warbler (link here). Super stoked at the time to finally improve on those previous weaker shots. Somewhere in that series, there was a switcharoo and next thing I see in the darkroom I’m staring at a +1. Will have to check with Ron and see if this happened to him as well.
On the Galveston Island Ferry now and need to call it a post so I can hunt for Bottlenose Dolphins. Actually, I need to put the laptop down so I can hold Ruger while HE hunts for Dolphins. That Poodle loves him some jumping Dolphins. Before I do, some quick tidbits. These Warblers, like many, are long distance migrants. Winter in Central American, South American and across the Caribbean before migrating around/through the Gulf to their summer home mostly in mountain forests of northeast US and Canada. Cornell also confirmed these birds are difficult to get a glimpse of as they prefer the high canopy level – in truth, they carry Yellow-Throat costumes underneath their feathers and quick-change into it if anyone spots them. Apparently this one thought it was clear of my camera and revealed himself too early!
Time to shoot some Dolphins – catch you again real soon!