Saturday, October 31, 2015

Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Tuolumne River

There are lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) out and about this time of year. Once I started watching birds a bit more carefully, I've seen them in a wide variety of environments across California and Arizona, including my own back yard. The latest sighting came with my strolls along the Tuolumne River where our town is constructing a parkway trail. At this site, the river flows out of the Sierra Nevada foothills onto the floor of the Great Valley.
There are wild Elderberries growing in small thickets along the river channel, and at this time of year the berries are providing some critical nutrition to a variety of bird species. In the space of a few moments I had four different birds land over my head, including Black Phoebe, Phainopepla, the Warbler, and some kind of Thrush or Vireo.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a common and widespread species, with a range that extends from Central America to the farthest reaches of Arctic Alaska. They have evolved the ability to digest some of the more waxy berries, which allows them to have the northernmost range of any warbler species.
Their plumage is somewhat muted at this time of year; they get much more colorful during the spring breeding season. They are pretty any time of year, though, which is why they've shown up on this blog more often than most other species.

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