Saturday, February 11, 2017

Audubon's (Yellow-rumped) Warbler Hiding in Plain Sight

There have been precious few chances for birdwatching of late, just stolen moments during lunch breaks, or a rare jaunt down to the Tuolumne River. I've been inundated by a combination of work and home projects. So it was that I was digging away in the backyard and stopped for a breather. Because I didn't have my camera, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet practically landed on my head. I went for the camera and the Kinglet was gone, but there were dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) hopping about in the Mulberry trees. I got a couple of shots in the dying afternoon light.
I always thought "Yellow-rumped" was kind of an insulting name for a bird, and I later found that others thought the same thing. They had better reasons for not liking the name, because it had four distinct subspecies that were clearly different from each other. For years, arguments have raged over whether they were subspecies or distinct and different species altogether. The pendulum is swinging back towards separate species, based on DNA and genetics research. I'm fine with that, since the little rumps would become Audubon's Warblers, a name with much more charisma and gravitas. Although, I have to admit that my first post on the Yellow-rumps had the greatest number of hits of any post on this blog. Since most of my hits come from Google searches, I don't want to speculate why.

No comments:

Post a Comment