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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Non-Warbler Warbler

[Rose Canyon, AZ Sky Islands. April 2013]

The Olive Warbler, a specialty bird of Southeast Arizona, was considered a Wood Warbler until the 1960's (see research here: analysis). The latest DNA studies suggest that it is most closely related to the Old World Accentors; although earlier it has variously been considered to have been related to the Old World Warblers or the Finches.

Uniquely, it is the only bird within its family and this is the only bird family that is endemic to North America.

Olive Warbler -- seen in its typical pine habitat.

The Olive Warbler is an attractive bird with an amber head, black eye-patch, grey body, two bold white wingbars and olive-green on the wings.

Olive Warbler seen at Rose Canyon

Other birds seen in the area included a House Wren, two species of Nuthatches, and two of sparrows (a Junco and a Towhee).

House Wren

First the two nuthatches:

Pygmy Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch -- this bird is 1.5x larger than the Pygmy (6 vs. 4 inches)

Pygmy Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch -- in a typical nuthatch pose.

Now the two sparrows:

Spotted Towhee

And, the ubiquitous yellow-eyed Junco.

The mysterious Olive Warbler is a unique and unparalleled species that will enthrall observers and there is no better place to see it than Arizona's "Sky Islands".

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