Monday, March 11, 2013

New Sighting! Pine Warbler

Tiny Girl and I noticed two birds -- visiting at separate times -- who looked out of place at our feeders. They bore a slight resemblance to goldfinches, but their heads were grayer, their breasts were pale yellow, their wings were lighter (gray instead of black), and the white bars on their wings were not as distinct. One of them had more yellow on its head than the other, resembling a nonbreeding male goldfinch. But the wings were still too different from a goldfinch's wings.

Pine siskin? we wondered. Nope. Pine siskins' breasts are heavily barred, a detail missing on our diners. Plus, they were too yellow. Pine siskins have a bit of yellow under their wings and tail and maybe a touch on the wing edges, but that's all.

Off to the WWW we went, straight to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's site, All About Birds. First, I went to their goldfinch page, not because I thought our mystery guests were goldfinches, but because this fabulous website features similar species -- with photos!

On a hunch, I clicked on the link to the pine siskin page and looked over the similar species photos. A few clicks of the mouse later, and I landed on a strong contender. I called Tiny in to take a look at several photos. "That's it!" she said happily. Pine warblers. Setophaga pinus and Dendroica pinus, in case you're boning up on your Latin. I guess they're so fabulous they get two binomial names.

Photo courtesy Laura Gooch via EOL, Encyclopedia of Life

Ah, what satisfaction.

The photo above looks a lot like one of our new friends. The second warbler had more yellow around its head and breast. I couldn't find a satisfactory photo of it. I'm certain the one above in a female, which tend to be more drab than the males.

Equally as fun as identifying this species is the fact that we've never seen them before. According to All About Birds, pine warblers have olive coloring on their backs. I'll look for that next time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh so exciting!! With the satisfaction of the identification to top it off :)


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