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Birding Photo Quiz: December 2017

¡Feliz Navidad!

It’s Christmas morning here in the ABA Area, as good a time as any for a photo quiz. Our photo is from Nicaragua, where so many of “our” ABA Area breeders are spending the holidays right now. The authors don’t know what this bird is! They have a hunch, but nothing definitive. Oh. That was a terrible pun. And an important clue.

 

Well, have it. As always, we greatly appreciate comments that contain some amount of explication. Don’t just say, “Common Chlorospingus.” (Indeed, don’t say that at all. ’cause it ain’t.) Share a bit of your knowledge and insights with us.

The answer (not) and analysis, written up by ornithologists Marvin A. Tórrez, Wayne Arendt, and Claire Everett, appear in the Dec. 2017 issue of Birding magazine.

Thanks, and Joyeux Noël, Mele Kalikimake, and Merry Christmas to all of you!

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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives of the ABA. He is the author of more than 100 magazine and journal articles, and has written four recent books, including an ABA title, the ABA Guide to Birds of Colorado. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and state ornithological society meetings, and he has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Mainly, he listens to birds at night.
Ted Floyd

Latest posts by Ted Floyd (see all)

  • H Lee Jones

    This looks like a first-winter (or hatch-year) female Yellow Warbler. The amount of plumage variation in Yellow Warblers is staggering and mostly (but not entirely) due to the range of variation exhibited by the many subspecies across its range. One of the best ways to tell if a mystery warbler is a Yellow is the thin yellow edges to all the remiges (wing flight feathers) and thicker yellow wing coverts tips which form yellow wingbars. This bird shows these features clearly. This bird also has a mostly yellow undertail — the result of broad yellow patches in the inner webs of the rectrices. The gray head of this bird is also typical of young birds of some subspecies, especially those in the “Golden” and “Mangrove” groups found in the tropics and near tropics, including Florida and southern Texas. Also, all Yellow Warblers have a more-or-less plain face with a yellow or, as with this bird, a white eye-ring, and most have faint streaks on the undersides.

  • John Gluth

    My impression of the bird at first glance was a bird with a superficially Tennessee-like appearance (gray head, facial markings, greenish-yellow upperparts). But closer study turned up too many features inconsistent with that species: bill too stout, lores and eyeline not dark enough, supercilium too faint/lacking, unbroken eyering, two visible wingbars, and under tail coverts not obviously white. I have no field experience outside the U.S. so have no first-hand experience with the tropical Yellow Warbler subspecies mentioned by HLJ, but have to agree with the presence of the general YEWA field marks he pointed out. Looking forward to other opinions on this bird.

  • Adam Roesch

    The gray head and yellow-green body plumage with yellow undertail coverts also match some young basic Orange-crowned Warbler plumages. As with Tennessee Warbler, the stoutness of the beak and the wing-bars seem to rule that out and point back to Yellow Warbler. Also, this bird appears to have a complete eye-ring (almost broken, but not quite), and a brighter shade of yellow-green plumage than would be expected on Orange-crowned Warbler.

  • Rodney McCollum

    I will guess first fall male “Golden” Yellow Warbler. They may show much gray to olive gray on their heads and upper parts. It has the whitish throat and eye-ring. I agree with the plain face look and faint streaks on the sides that this bird has as characteristics of a Yellow Warbler.

  • Pingback: Birding Online: December 2017 « ABA Publications()

  • Logan Anderson

    I would say it closely resembles the Galapagos subspecies of Yellow Warbler with the gray wash to the head and white throat. Of course this bird is most likely not one of that subspecies.

  • Dannie Carsen

    My first impression overall is a first-winter MacGillvray’s. But as pointed out here there is a lot of wingbars and other YEWA features on this bird. Could it be a hybrid? I too noted some Orange-crowned characteristics such as the gray head which are also seen on the Tennessee Warbler. Perhaps we need to organize a field trip to take some DNA samples on birds like this!

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