Posted by: atowhee | May 11, 2010


There were seven visible species of warbler at Ashland Pond after the rain stopped this afternoon.  That wouldn’t even scratch the surface on a good spring morning east of the Mississippi, but here in the arid west we are warbler-limited.  None of the species were new for the season (I’m still missing Black-throated Gray this year) and few will remain all summer for breeding.  But it’s great to see those bright patches of yellow flashing through the canopy and amongst the berry brambles.

Of course, in due time the Yellow-breasted Chat might be moved into another family as it seems a bogus warbler by  many criteria.  The authoritative BNA account says, “Molecular data, however, support its [Chat’s] traditional classification in the Parulidae [American wood warblers].”  Even if he remains in the warbler family, he will continue to have his own genus.  Last spring I described his loud and varied sounds (songs?) and how they were seen by early naturalists in America. The Chat is a successful species, with an estimated 12 million spread across much of the Americas.

The Evening Grosbeaks were peeping like large versions of the baby chicken.  The Grosbeaks, naturally, provided an on-going background melody. A Flicker called.  At one point a House Wren, Song Sparrow and Chat were all bits of a complex concerto on the north end of the pond.  Also present: several Pac-slope Flycatchers, a Western Wood-Pewee, one Vaux’s Swift and Rough-winged Swallow among the Tree Swallows, a Warbling Vireo and a singing Bewick’s Wren.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in the willows.

Feeding along the edge of the pond.

The warblers enjoy the choke cherry blossoms.  The

enjoyment seems less aesthetic, and more alimentary.  As Sherlock might say, “Alimentary, my dear Watson.”

Adult Scrub-jay on left was moving through the trees, bringing food to the fledgling on the right.

And this young ground squirrel couldn’t be bothered to even run down the path as I approached during afternoon snack. 

Location:     Ashland Pond
Observation date:     5/11/10
Number of species:     33

Mallard     8
Turkey Vulture     4
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Mourning Dove     1
Vaux’s Swift     1
Anna’s Hummingbird     1
Acorn Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     2
Western Wood-Pewee     1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher     5
Black Phoebe     1
Warbling Vireo     1
Western Scrub-Jay     3
Tree Swallow     50
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     1
Black-capped Chickadee     2
Bewick’s Wren     1
House Wren     1
American Robin     6
European Starling     8
Orange-crowned Warbler     3
Yellow Warbler     3
Yellow-rumped Warbler     12
MacGillivray’s Warbler     1
Common Yellowthroat     1
Wilson’s Warbler     10
Yellow-breasted Chat     1
Song Sparrow     2
Black-headed Grosbeak     6
Red-winged Blackbird     10
American Goldfinch     4
Evening Grosbeak     8

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