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Old Friday 20th January 2006, 04:53   #1
Cillana
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Yellow Warbler in Louisiana

This little "yellow" warbler has been confounding me since December. In December I was too busy with finals and traveling to study my local birds. I've sat down and tried to get a good look at this bird several times so far now. It's been staying in a grove of young willows on a newly formed (past couple years) island in a pond next to the dorms on the LSU campus. There's a pic of the habitat I took back in July below. It's a lot thinner now, but still thick enough that this bird can easily hide in the middle of it and I can't see it. There are a bunch of yellow leaves on the willows so I can't see the bird until it moves and when it moves, it's fast. I've been hearing it more than seeing it. Not singing, just the callnote. I'm really bad at describing bird calls and imagining them from what I read in the book. But I'm really good at recognizing a call I've heard before. It was similar to the Yellow-rumped Warblers calling from the live oak trees behind me, but with a sharper ending.

At first I thought it might have been a male Pine Warbler since I saw a female on the dormside of the pond where there are a bunch of pines. She was actually at the top of a smaller evergreen tree (not a conifer) and stayed still long enough for me to get a great look. I usually sit on the other side of the pond since the island is closer to that side. It's only maybe 5 ft away and becomes a muddy pennisula when it hasn't rained in a while.

I got a better look at it and decided it wasn't a Pine Warbler. It's face has too much yellow and it has olive wings not black with white wingbars. Today I had myself fairly convinced that it was a female or immature male Wilson's Warbler. The edges of the feathers on the wings are lighter than the rest of the wing. It does have olive on the top of its head.

I kept telling myself, "It's not a Yellow Warbler. They aren't supposed to be here this time of year." But... the olive on the crown is just in the back and fades from yellow to olive like on a male Yellow Warbler rather than a distinct change from yellow to olive on the female Wilson's Warbler. I didn't see any of the rusty stripes on the chest & belly, though. It lifted its foot behind its wing to scratch/preen and seemed to have a more yellowish than olive rump. I thought I saw yellow spots on it's tail today when it was chasing a Ruby-crowned Kinglet away.

Just a few minutes ago I downloaded RealPlayer so I could play the songs on Cornell's website. I played the file for the Wilson's Warbler. The callnote was all wrong. Then I played the file for the Yellow Warbler. The callnote sounded exactly right! Now I'm wondering "What the heck is this bird doing here, and how am I going to get a good photo of it?"
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Old Friday 20th January 2006, 20:36   #2
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Looks like we're neck-and-neck for lifers, Cillana!
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Old Saturday 21st January 2006, 17:30   #3
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I went to take pics after it stopped raining this morning. After squatting behind my tripod for over an hour I managed to get 7 photos of the darn bird which are compiled below. Photos taken in SHQ 2288x1712 with 10x optical zoom all the way up then cropped to 320x260. The 4 in the first file are the better ones (the top left pic is a butt shot). The other 3 in the second file are blurry but I put them up anyway. The third file is a pic of the ever-present pair of killdeers. I just threw it in to show that I can actually take good pics.
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Old Wednesday 25th January 2006, 16:26   #4
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I just started my Ornithology class at LSU. I told my teacher about this bird. He was surprised that I IDed it myself but not that it was there. He said that one of his colleagues had noticed it already. He said it's the first record of a Yellow Warbler in inland Louisiana in January. There are 4 previous sightings of them on the coast in January.
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Old Monday 30th January 2006, 03:44   #5
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I got some better pictures of it last Friday.
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Old Monday 30th January 2006, 12:15   #6
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Definitly a Yellow Warbler - excellent find! Good job getting some good photos of this bird. That's really cool that you found such a rare bird! Keep up the good work.
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