Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yellow-throated Warbler and Manatee

When I took the Carolina Chickadee photo in my last post, Erika and I were in northern Florida. We stopped at Fanning State Park, which, on 22 January 2010, we pretty much had to ourselves (although, later in the season, no doubt this small park is a madhouse). After the chickadee, which closely approached my squeaking noises, we spied a Yellow-throated Warbler high in the cypresses along a clear creek draining the deep spring for which the park was created. Despite the bird's distance from me, I took a photograph and was surprised how well it came out.

I have only seen a few Yellow-throated Warblers, despite their being common within their normal range. The species breeds in the southeastern United States and in the Bahamas. Only a scattering of records exist for Minnesota and the Dakotas. Birds from the western, interior part of the country have white lores and were once named Sycamore Warblers. These birds appear to be expanding their range north, so we Minnesotans may be expected to find more in the future. Yellow-lored birds, such as the bird I photographed, are found in more coastal areas and winter in Florida. Bahamian birds are more yellow and have noticeably longer bills. They have recently been elevated to a distinct species, the Bahama Warbler.

During our Fanning State Park sojourn, we were fortunate to see another Florida specialty, the Manatee. How exciting could an obese aquatic mammal be? As we departed the park, Erika glimpsed a huge, beaver-tailed Manatee dozing in the Fanning Spring. The answer to my question is that seeing a Manatee was quite a thrill indeed!


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