Blue-winged, Golden-winged Warbler Hybrid?

Rained out for banding this morning, but that gives me more time to catch up on household chores (where ARE those house elves when you really need them?) and some other work.  But first, I have to share an interesting capture from yesterday and Tuesday. 

I banded this fellow on Tuesday morning.  A beautiful male blue-winged warbler….uh, wait a second.  It’s supposed to have white wing bars.  Not yellow ones.  This guy most definitely has yellow wing bars.  Blue-winged and golden-winged warblers do interbreed, producing two variations of hybrid offspring that have characteristics of both parents. One of these variations (Brewster’s warbler) has mostly white underparts, and the others (Lawrence’s Warbler) have the yellow plumage of the blue-winged but the dark throat of the golden-winged.  This guy does not fit the description for either a Brewster’s or Lawrence’s.  He’s clearly a blue-winged warbler, except for those golden wing bars.

I banded the bird and recorded the anomaly, and of course, took as many pictures as I could to get a clear documentation. Then, I sent him on his way.

Wednesday morning,  when I checked the net, not only had I recaptured the yellow wing-bar guy, but a few inches away from him was another, ‘normal’ blue-winged warbler!  They no doubt were chasing one another when they hit the banding nets.  Such a chance for further comparison and a side-by-side photo op!  Except I was banding alone, and getting two birds safely out of respective bags, holding them both next to one another and taking comparison pictures – wasn’t going to happen.  So I did the best I could do with individual shots.

This guy is a ‘normal’ blue-winged warbler, with the proper white wing bars.  There’s a pale hint of yellow on a couple of the feathers, but that’s it.  Also notice his wing bars are much more narrow than the yellow ones in the first bird.

So – is the first bird a hybrid?  Is it just some mutant throwback (these two species are very closely related anyway) or is there another explanation?  I’m not into genetics, so I can’t say.  But by normal banding terms, it was an awesome day.



10 Responses to “Blue-winged, Golden-winged Warbler Hybrid?”

  1. Lynne at Hasty Brook Says:

    I just read about those hybrids last night! I’m trying so hard to get a grip on warbler id this spring. I have to say it again, your banding posts are such a valuable learning tool. Too bad I don’t live closer- I’d give my eye teeth to be your helper!

  2. obi4240 Says:

    MOVE!!! LOL, sorry – couldn’t help that.

  3. Larry Says:

    I’ve seen the hybrids listed on listserve and wondered what they looked like so I enjoyed the photos. As far as the yellow winged Blue-winged -I would be excited to share that finding with a forum so that I could watch expert birders go back and forth with opinions.-Interesting find-Banding sure does offer you a great opportunity to see warblers up close.

  4. Nathan Says:

    Probably a backcross then. One of its parents, or even grandparents, was likely a GWxBW hybrid that crossed once, or even twice, with a full BW.

    I’ve seen that sort of thing in gulls where nearly all the marks say one bird, but it’ll have a funky bill or something that shows some lineage of another.

    Cool bird!

  5. obi4240 Says:

    Thanks Nathan – I wasn’t sure of the proper terminology to use for it. Appreciate the information. And yes, definitely cool!

  6. mon@rch Says:

    I have seen a great diverse amounts of yellow in their wings but never any bird with that much yellow! WOW and you should send it to some of the Golden/Blue Winged experts!

  7. Brewster’s Warbler « Natural Notes Says:

    […] a cross between a golden-winged warbler and a blue-winged warbler.  Sound familiar?  The bird in this post is also a hybrid, but looks like a blue-winged except for the yellow wing bars.  The […]

  8. Susan Mott Says:

    Is your picture of the hybrid Blue-winged warbler in the public domain? I have produced a 30-minute interview with Peter Rhoades Mott (past president of the Florida Audubon Society and past board president of the New York City chapter of the Audubon Socety) for our public access cable television station in Princeton, NJ, and would like permission to use your photograph to illustrate his reference to hybrid mating between the Blue-winged and Golden-winged warbler.

  9. Gary Hetel Says:

    Nice pictures. We caught 3 this morning, same area,same net. Just wanted you to know tha Lawrence’s has been in that area for two years now and that the ones we netted were maybe offspring of his with a Blue-winged.

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