Greetings everyone! We are finally back home now having completed our intended mission on Exploration Tres. I am still absolutely shocked at the lack of connectivity we faced as we move further and further north. Guessing some of it has to do with our provider as we really only have one option that has sufficient coverage by our home here in the country and they tend to be weaker as we travel out of the state. The rest of the issue is Linda keeps dragging me into deep woods in remote parts of the country – if you don’t hear from me in a while and find out Linda is in Tahiti with the dogs…do me a favor and drop a line to 911 for me hehehehe. The birding was a bit hit or miss on the trip so the backlog queue didn’t grow that much. On the odd front, this is the first time since I can remember I didn’t tin one of these.
The shots in this series failed to give you a view of their primary tell-tale characteristic, so you may not recognize tonight’s featured feathered friend. Imagine that yellow patch on the side of the breast to also be found on the rump – yep, this is the very ubiquitous Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Although the species can be found in the entirety of North America dependent on their seasonal regions, this happens to be my first immature – well, at least that I am willing to show you ha!
Hit the jump to read a bit more on our delicately colored specimen.
There are two subspecies for the Yellow-Rumped, the Myrtle and the Audubon. The adult males are easy to distinguish in the field since the Myrtle lacks the yellow throat that is prominent on the Audubon – the throat is white on the male Myrtles. I was not sure on the females or the immatures and Cornell’s website let me down showing on the Myrtle immature. Luckily I have “The Warbler Guide” reference by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle (link here). Note, I do not get a kickback from Amazon, just using that as a handy link so you can get more info on it if you wanted). Ron alerted me to this reference several years back when we were struggling to ID some of the Warblers we tinned in the fall migration up at Montrose. A lot of the Warblers go to more muted coloring at that time of the year making the job more difficult. If you want to have access to every angle, every age morph, song breakdowns, regional differences and incredible detail on characteristics about a Warbler… this book is the only one you need. To be completely honest, it can be overwhelming. It usually only comes out when I need to go that extra mile, nautical mile, marathon.. hell, ultra – regardless, this reference will get you there with plenty of pictures to feast your eyes on (warning, it even has the shots of the reference carcasses).
What I especially like is the in depth analysis for inter-species comparisons. Pure bird porn for us feather aficionados. It didn’t take long for me to confirm that this was a Myrtle immature. The female Myrtles will transition to deepen their browns on top, darken their streaks and usually grey out their lores and primary wing feathers. From what I can tell from my other encounters, their yellow patches on their breasts will amp up significantly compared to the specimen here.
As I am unable to show you the rump angle in this series, this would be a good time to point out another feature that can be helpful in the field – trust me, they do not always cooperate with you in the field and unless they are in flight, may not even be able to see the yellow patch if you do manage to get behind them. In this situation, try to observe the undertail coloring. The Yellow-Rumps will have two large almost tear drop looking patches. Now that angle I can show you. There are a few other birds that have similar patterns on the tails, however, if you can marry it up with the yellow hues on the sides of the breast then you are probably good to go. If you are curious about the yellow patch on the rump, I was able to cover that perspective when they were featured back in July of 2012 (link here) – ironically, from one of the places we visited on our latest trip – Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin. If you want to gauge your running condition, give the bluff trails around that lake a shot. I ran up both bluffs (east immediately followed by west) and by the time I made it back to the RV was pretty sure my legs had just been in a turf battle with the Baseball Furies.
If you happen to come upon a Yellow-Rumped in the field (either subspecies), try to get a shot of their yellow crown streak. Like the Kinglets (Ruby here, and Golden here), the Rumps will not always reveal that royal characteristic. Per the huge range of the Rumps mentioned above, their ability to utilize berries or insects for nourishment allows them greater range, especially in the winter months when insects become more scarce. According to Cornell, they are “the only Warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles.”.
Hmm, forgot to give the details on where this specimen was found – let’s correct that now. Our little immature was found while exploring Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Texas during Expedition Uno in January of this year. Wonderful place and one I highly recommend visiting there if the chaos is ever addressed along our southern border. They “rumps” managed to push that issue off the front page thanks to stranding thousands of American citizens behind enemy lines.
Hope you enjoyed the latest offering, a small incremental step up in color hues from the other posts this month. Stay tuned, more color coming your way.