Thursday, March 11, 2021

Myrtle Warbler

On 10 March Erika and I were delighted to see our first spring migrating warblers of 2021. A dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers flitted about the upper branches of a row of alders along the shore of the north end of Olympia’s Capitol Lake. We looked carefully and noted all of their throats were uniformly white (rather than buffy or yellow). We concluded these birds were Myrtle Warblers, not the more expected Audubon’s race of Yellow-rumped Warbler. The two races meet and hybridize across parts of British Colombia, and so both subspecies are seen during migration in Washington. Noting such subtleties is important for us birders, in case ornithologists ever change their minds and declare that Yellow-rumped Warbler are actually two species that enjoy only limited genetic exchange.

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