Hey guys, welcome back. So at the end of my last post I mentioned that I’ve never seen the bird featured today, but how can that be? I’m highlighting the birds on my life list in this blog, so how can I include one that I’ve never seen? Well, there’s a simple answer. When birding, sound counts. In other words, if you can identify the call or song of a species, it counts as a sighting, even if you didn’t physically see it. And that is the case with today’s bird, the mourning warbler. Well, I did kind of see it. The story goes like this. I was working in Central Park where we ran weekly bird walks in partnership with NYC Audubon. I was the “park expert” there to answer questions about the park or really anything honestly. I co-lead the walk with a member of NYC Audubon. The Audubon guide on this particular day was a guy named Nadir. Excellent birder. You’ll find his name near the top of any eBird list for NYC. Anyway, we were birding in Central Park’s wildflower meadow when he heard a mourning warbler. We all were scanning the area where we could hear the bird. Mourning warblers like dense, shrubby vegetation, so actually seeing the bird was difficult. At one point it flew and I saw it, but not good enough to know what it was. I did hear it, and it was ID’d. I actually remember debating whether to count it on my list or not. Ultimately I decided I would, not because I could ID the sound, but because it was an uncommon visitor to the park and I wanted to get word out on eBird that one was nearby. And that’s how it got on my life list.
I went chasing down subsequent sightings numerous times, but always came up empty handed. One of these days though, I’ll find one. This actually isn’t the only bird on my list I’ve heard but not seen. But hopefully by the time we get to Kentucky warbler, that’ll have changed!
The mourning warbler is yellow with a gray head, similar to a Nashville, Connecticut, and McGilvary’s warbler, but they lack the eyering of the Nashville and Connecticut, and the adult males have a black “bib” on their neck. That black bib is how they got their name. It was custom in the Victoria Era to wear a black bib or some sort of black garment when you were mourning the death of a loved one. The mourning warbler looks most like the McGilvary’s warbler, but that’s only really an issue in a small part of the Great Plains, where their ranges meet. Next up, a warbler I have seen. And one that looks entirely different in spring than in fall. Blackpoll warbler is next. See you then!