Saturday, November 23, 2013

This Yellow-rump, and That One

 [The brown warbler - Yellow-rumped Warbler at Cape May NWR, NJ today.]

Various elements of life, some good and some less good, have interrupted my birding and this blog over the past days, so I was pleased to take a simple walk on the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge's Woodcock Lane trail late this afternoon, to listen to a courting pair of Great-horned Owls there, and to encounter other basic birds of the Delaware Bayshore. Like Yellow-rumped Warblers, which seem well set for their Thanksgiving feast with abundant Eastern Redcedar berries on many trees in most places I've paid attention.

As I watched the yellow-rumps and listened to their checks and seeps as they fed and flew from tree to tree, I was reminded that though I have seen many of this species, I'd never seen this one or that one. Each yellow-rump looks a little different, for example the one above is browner with less yellow than the bluer individual with nice bright yellow chest patches below. And each Yellow-rumped Warbler has its own story. You could write a book about the yellow-rump, not the species, but the one hover-gleaning the cedar berry right in front of you.

I relish the notion that the individuals before me could have come from far-flung places. This evening, as the wind of the present very cold high pressure system whistled around the house, I opened the Sibley guide and pondered the plates and the maps, which (in this guide) display the separate ranges of the western "Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler and our "Myrtle," the latter of which spreads all across Canada and up into Alaska during the breeding season. No wonder they are so abundant, with a breeding range like that. I'd go ahead and memorize this page, by the way - as Sibley says, yellow-rumped is our most visible warbler. Know it well.

In other news, I see congrats are due to Tom Reed at the Cape May hawkwatch for breaking the all-time seasonal Golden Eagle with number 39 today - and I bet more still are in the pipeline, perhaps tomorrow with this powerful weather system. And then there are the NJ Snowy Owl reports - 2 at Sandy Hook and one apparently at Barnegat Light today, and both white-winged gulls (Iceland and Glaucous) were found in Cape May today. Feels like winter . . . and check out Bruce McTavish's Newfoundland blog for more Snowy news.

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