warbler at Fill

Constance J. Sidles csidles at mail.isomedia.com
Tue Sep 24 10:40:45 PDT 2002


Hey tweets, if you can get down to the Fill today, please do so ASAP. I saw
a very odd warbler this morning. Here are the field marks:
1. huge white eye-ring, unbroken at back of eye (did not look like
McGillivray's, which always remind me of the "close-up space" marks that
editors use). Did not have any line through eye or any kind of "eyebrow"
like some orange-crowneds do.
2. head and neck had an overall grayish, hooded appearance, but all these
areas were extremely dull-colored and not super-distinct from the rest of
the bird
3. no wing bars
4. overall uniform yellowish on underbelly (at least as much as I could
see); did not look like there were two colors (i.e., white and yellowish,
as a common yellowthroat) there, but rather the same flattish, dullish
yellowish
5. it did not have a conspicuously yellow throat; rather the throat color
was roughly the same as the head and neck color (but the sky was gray, so
while I got a good sense of flat colors, there was no sunlight shining on
this bird to make the colors really pop out; still I think I would have
noticed if the throat was yellow or white)
6. made zeet calls as it foraged (didn't sound like the chips that common
yellowthroats make, but I freely admit that my birding skills are weakest
in the area of calls)
7. didn't like to be looked at - it flew off as soon as it saw me, from
tree to tree to tree to bush, even though I was standing on the trail a
fairly good distance away. I've often stood almost right next to
orange-crowned warblers and common yellowthroats without them being
bothered; this bird was bothered

In other words, it looked like a Connecticut warbler, except:
1. it looked a little small, closer to the size of an orange-crowned
warbler (definitely not an orange-crowned though - it had none of the right
field marks for that)
2. it did not go on the ground at all (which Connecticuts are supposed to
favor), at least as long as I observed it, which wasn't very long. Instead
it stayed in the trees. It seemed to like low, bushy trees better than
skinny trees, because it foraged in the bushy tree where I first saw it and
did not stay for more than a few seconds in the taller trees it flushed
into.

I first heard it zeeting in the little deciduous tree between the lone pine
tree  and the bramble bushes on the loop trail. It came out into the open
briefly, and I got a very good look, especially of its head, throat, belly
and upper back. I did not see its tail at all, nor its coverts, nor its
legs.

As soon as it saw me, it flew to the next bushy tree just north of the
first tree. As I was looking for it among the dense leaves, it flew out to
the upper middle of the tall cottonwood tree on the northwest corner of
Shoveler Pond. It flew in a kind of bobbing pattern, a little reminiscent
of a common yellowthroat but not quite as bobbing.

As I was trying to spot it among the big leaves of the tree, it flew out to
the top of the little deciduous tree on the east side of Shoveler Pond.
Then with hardly a pause it flew back across Shoveler Pond to the row of
little trees along the west side of the pond. It went into two trees there.
Then it dove into the bushes at the south end of this line of trees and
disappeared. I waited awhile but did not see or hear it come out.

If you go to look for this bird and don't see it around Shoveler Pond, I
suggest you check the willows and bushes on the north side of the main
pond, which have been great for warblers all year. You might also check the
brush and trees in a clump just north of the main pond and to the west of
Shoveler Pond. Let me know what you find!

Other birds of note this morning: two peregrine falcons perches in the dead
beaver trees. One was the little male I've been seeing a lot; the other was
a large female. I also saw a very stupid teenage pheasant walking along the
logs in the backwater of Union Bay, near the first overlook on the loop
trail. I mean, how many brains does it take to not get yourself out on a
bare log in the middle of the water with two peregrine falcons not a
hundred feet away? You know how Star Trek always dressed its expendable
soldiers in red shirts? This pheasant was definitely a red shirt. - Connie,
Seattle

csidles at isomedia.com




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