Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tennessee Warbler

I previously blogged about Tennessee Warblers. Today I write about our understanding of the evolution and taxonomy of some of our warblers.  One beauty of science is that our studies allow us to change our understanding of how the world works.  

Until recently, a number of warblers were considered to be closely related and, therefore, placed in the same genus, Vermivora. All have sharp, relatively thin bills. These species included, among others,  Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Golden-winged, and Blue-winged Warblers.  Molecular studies indicate that only the Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers (along with the likely extinct Bachman's Warbler) are evolutionarily close.  The others are moved to a new genus, Oreothlypis. Furthermore, two Mexican warblers have been moved into the new genus.  Flame-throated and Crescent-chested warblers were formerly placed in the Parula genus (American Ornithologist's Union).

Changes in systematics only change our philosophical understanding of evolution.  The Tennessee Warbler's loud, ringing song remains one of abundant sounds of spring migration. Note the flute-like Wood Thrush song in the background of this file, used with permission from Thayer Birding Software.

1 comment:

  1. We saw several of these in the Upper Arb yesterday, we believe.