American Birding Podcast



Two Weird Warblers

A pair of apparent hybrid warblers on opposite sides of the continent have been making the rounds on various listservs and forums over the last week. Both have relatively mysterious parentage and offer few outward clues as to their genetic ancestry.  In any case, short of the unlikely and unnecessary action of drawing blood for a full workup there’s little certainty here, but skilled birders can still make some well-informed and fun guesses.

The most bizarre of the two has to be a male Dendroica…er… Setophaga type warbler present for a few days at Summer Lake in south-central Oregon.  At first glance it suggests a strange colored Canada Warbler, a popular guess for one of the parents.  Suggestions for the other half include Black-throated Blue, American Redstart and either of the Mourning or MacGillivray’s duo.  It certainly doesn’t appear similar to any known hybrids, and it looks to me to be not far off the Junkin’s Warbler – a bird that was determined to be Kentucky x Mourning, a cross no one expected – discovered in western New York several years ago.  Odd indeed.

Oregon Warbler

photo (c) Jim Arneson via flickr

The second bird comes from Falmouth, Massachusetts.  It’s a female with slightly less confused parentage, as it has been narrowed down to three possibilities, Prairie, Blue-winged, and Pine.  Photos can be found here.  The Prairie influence looks to me to be pretty strong, but the other is anyone’s guess.

Both are fascinating birds, even if they’re not ending up a list anytime soon.  Anyone up for taking a crack at either of these birds?  No guess is too weird.  If we learned anything from the aforementioned Junkin’s Warbler, it’s that the outlandish is almost as reasonable as the expected.