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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Port Huron SGA: Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Indigo Bunting

[Port Huron SGA. May/June 2015]

One would surmise that any bird whose name bears the epithet "Common" would, if true to its import, offer easy sightings. 

However, observation of this warbler does not come unchallenged -- the Common Yellowthroat is a notorious skulker and is rarely seen out in the open -- a trait of shyness it shares with other members of the genus Geothlypis such as Mourning, MacGillivray's, and Kentucky Warbler.

Uncommonly beautiful with its broad, black mask, yellow throat and white "headband", the only thing "Common" about this warbler is its frequently heard (but harsh) "tsk" call; and, its enormously widespread distribution across the US -- this distinctive warbler is found as a breeder or over-winterer in almost all our states.

With migration now over, the enterprising birder's attention shifts to areas that offer suitable breeding habitat for our neotropical songsters. And, Port Huron SGA is a prime location for finding some choice warbler species in Summer. Besides the Common Yellowthroat seen at Abbotsford Rd, the
distinctive sound of a song that rings "Zoo Zee Zoo Zoo Zee" betrays the presence of a Black-throated Green Warbler:

This is one of the most common warblers found in migration in hotspots such as Magee Marsh. While common, this warbler is one that always delights with its bold black throat that extends to its flanks; the white belly, yellow face and olive back and eye-line completing the visual diagnostics.

Nearby, the brilliant blue of an Indigo Bunting offers a study in contrasts to the warblers:

The Indigo's bill is much stouter -- reflective of the prominent role of seeds in their diet -- compare to the Warbler's thin, sharp bill. The Indigo is also larger and its song more finch-like.

In song, however, both the warblers and the buntings are put to shame by the matchless, haunting melody of the Wood Thrush:

The Wood Thrush is able to sing two notes at once creating a song of flute-like resonance that was described by the Poet-Philosopher Henry David Thoreau as one of the most beautiful birdsongs in North America.

Sadly, numbers of this bright thrush have fallen 50% since the 1960's although it can still commonly be heard in appropriate habitat.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

You have a great skill in finding the birds, Hemant. The primary song of the Wood Thrush indeed makes most other bird species' vocalizations seem dull in comparison.