Blue-winged Warbler

Hey guys, welcome back! Sadly, today’s post will not feature any pics. I’ve seen quite a number of blue-winged warblers in my day, just never any photogenic ones. And the ones that were, were present when I was sans camera. Blue-winged warblers are actually one of my favorite warbler species. I just think they’re really cool looking. They’re also one of the first not-super-common warblers I remember seeing, and one of the first (if not the first) warbler songs I learned. Their mnemonic is actually a fairly accurate “Bees BUZZZZZZ.” They are a mostly bright yellow bird, with a small black eye mask, and a bluish-grey wing with white wingbars.

Blue-winged warblers love shrubby forest edges and have benefited from human development. The destruction of forests for development has created more forest edge scrubby areas, and as such the Blue-wings range has steadily moved further northward. They forage much the same as chickadees and can be often seen hanging upside down like one. They have a heavier bill than most warblers, adding to their sharp look. Their range expansion northward has brought them into more contact with golden-winged warblers, with whom they hybridize quite extensively. Fun fact, according to a study by Cornell, the two species are genetically 99.97% alike! They mix with each other producing two main hybrid forms, the Lawrence’s warbler, and the Brewster’s warbler, both of which were thought at one time to be separate species, and are fertile hybrids. It’s a bit complicated but put simplistically, a blue-winged and a golden-winged produce the Brewster’s hybrid (showing all the dominate traits.) A Brewster that mates with either parent species will produce a Lawrence’s (showing recessive traits.)

Golden-winged warbler numbers are decreasing, and this hybridization is thought by some to be one of the reasons. However, I’ll get into that more down the line when we tackle the golden-winged warbler. I think that’ll wrap it up for today. Next time, another warbler species. See you all then!

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