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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Incredible Red-faced Warbler

[Bear Wallow, Mt. Lemmon. Arizona Sky Islands. May 2013]

Of our 50-odd wood warblers, we have a preponderance of species colored in yellows, greens and blacks (eg., Yellow-throated, Yellow, Golden-winged, etc). Some in blues (eg., Cerulean, Black-throated Blue), oranges (Blackburnian,  American Redstart) and buff/browns (eg., Buff-breasted, Worm-eating); but, strangely, only two warblers plumed in red.

The two species in red are Painted Redstart (red breast) and the the unparalleled Red-faced Warbler. Like other neotropical migrants, the Red-faced is with us from Spring through Fall; however, unlike the majority of our warblers, the Red-faced's range in the US is restricted to only 2 states: Arizona and New Mexico.

 This strikingly handsome warbler is found only in high-elevation forests of the Sky Islands of the Southwest.

The Red-faced Warbler's red face and bib, black bonnet, white nape, and light grey upperparts make it unmistakeable and hard to confuse with any other species.

There are estimated to be approximately 400,000 Red-faced Warblers in the world -- while populations show a decreasing trend, this species is categorized as "Least Concern" by Birdlife International. The Red-faced warbler, like many other warblers, is also a ground nester -- laying its eggs in a nest in a small hole or depression on the forest floor.

While highly localized in the US, the Red-faced Warbler is, however, not difficult to find in appropriate habitat. One excellent location for finding this stunning species is Bear Wallow -- described in this link from eBird.

Although socially monogamous, the breeding pair is not beyond committing the occasional infidelity -- indeed, about half the broods contain young from an outside male.

Like other warblers, Red-faced's are insectivorous; favoring caterpillars and other grubs of the forest.

A warbler hued liked no other -- if you have to pick one Western warbler "to see before you die", this would be it.


Research note by the Audubon society.
Map link to Bear Wallow.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

Wonderful work, Hemant. A species to behold indeed.