"Is That a Wild Canary?"

Yellow Warbler

         Yellow Warbler It’s a common question that non-birders ask birders, “Do we have wild canaries, because I think I just saw one?” Yellow warblers are yellow, small, and cute, with a sweet song and are often mistaken for “wild canaries.” Unfortunately, canaries are tropical birds and wouldn't have much of a chance of surviving our climate.

You can find this cute little warbler in riparian woodlands and its high melodic song is music to a birders’s ears. They tend to hang around with birds of their own size and can be found mixed with chickadees, nuthatches, brown creepers and kinglets, to name a few. The male is a bright yellow with thin orange streaks on its breast and the female is a paler yellow and is hard to distinguish from other warblers.

                                  warbler        Yellow Warblers are often targets of the Brown-headed Cowbird who prefers to lay her eggs in other birds’ nests. When the eggs hatch, the tiny Yellow Warbler babies are pushed out of the nest by the huge cowbird baby and the unknowing parents continue to feed the oversized chick. Sometimes birds abandon their nests if they have been invaded by cowbirds’ eggs and will build a new nest. Other times the warbler parents might destroy the egg but chances are another egg will be laid in its place. Cowbirds have had quite an impact on warblers. Nesting along streams where the Yellow Warbler prefers to live is very competitive and sometimes hectic. Once we saw a male American Redstart chase every male Yellow Warbler it could find from its Spring territory. They kept coming back, of course, because real estate along rivers is prime nesting habitat for all kinds of birds. Whenever you're out in the woods, especially in the early mornings, take a moment to listen to the bird songs. You just might hear the Yellow Warbler. Here's a sample of its song.

         Our artist today is Bonnie Lofthouse. Thanks, Bonnie, for your beautiful drawing. For more information about birds, or the Christmas Bird Count, call Marilyn or Keith Davis at 435 673-0996.

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