Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Erika and I left Sanibel Island on 1 April and drove across the peninsula and spent two days in Florida City. Our BirdsEye bird-finding app, indicated that Gray Kingbirds, which we missed in Sanibel, had been seen at Long Key State Park, along with a rarer bird, the Key West Quail-Dove.

We arrived at Long Key on 2 April and were greeted by this Black-throated Blue Warbler. Males and females look so different that early ornithologists thought that they were different species. Males, like this one, do not molt into a cryptic fall plumage, and, thus, are easily identified all year. I have posted a photo of a female elsewhere in this blog.

Minnesota is about as far west as Black-throated Blue Warblers breed. They winter in forests in the Greater Antilles, the Yucatan, and Belize. Most migrate along our Atlantic Coast. We assume the bird in the photo is an early migrant in south Florida. Populations of this warbler have declined due to deforestation, both in their breeding and wintering grounds. Only as fallow fields have recently reverted to forest have numbers rebounded (Holmes et al. 2005).

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