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.