8.11.15

OCWA vs NAWA

During the months over the last two winters I spent working out of my client's office in northern Georgia, I got my pretty accustomed to seeing Orange-Crowned warblers. They'd be the last to arrive and last to leave - lingering with the siskins and purple finches along the rich riparian corridors of the Chattahoochee.

So with winter looming, this drab little parulid was on my radar for Hudson county, and as local advice and eBird records showed, I figured I'd have plenty of time to target it at Mill Creek Marsh over the next month.

So it was a nice surprise to flush one this morning at Laurel Hill, when i was more focused on sparrows and (absent) pipits.

But wait, was it an OCWA? A little voice in the back of my head said it could easily have been a Nashville, especially a drab fall bird. The warbler in question flushed into the scrubby woodland behind the dinosaur fence, so all i could do was pish, wait, pish some more, walk around, wait some more.

Eventually I pulled up the call on my phone and within a half-second it came rocketing out of the birches.

It was far from impressed to see a human with an iPhone, and if this hadn't been a passage bird I would have felt pretty guilty. It perched for all of two seconds, looked aggressively around, or as aggressive as a 10 gram warbler can get, then disappeared from whence it came...

When I got home I had a found this lengthy discussion, contributed to by some heavyweights like Kaufmann, Jaramillo et al, about this individual:




My bird looked pretty much like the bird being argued over here. But it's getting quite late for Nashville here, my last being over 2 weeks ago in Hoboken of all places.

Moreover, what I saw this morning looked intuitively different; showing a dirtier, greenier yellow underneath than I've ever seen on a Nashville, and lacking any contrast between throat and hood color. If you cut my bird in half, the back half would be brighter and richer than the front half. This is kinda the opposite from what I'd expect on any Nashville.

I'm taking the unequivocal response to playback as confirmation - but whatever the rationalisation, I know if I hadn't called the bird out, I'd still have a few nagging doubts....

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NYC, Buxton, Buenos Aires
I work in NYC and own a wildlife and wilderness agency specializing in the southern cone of South America. I still do some guiding down there, especially looking for Fuegian and Patagonian avifauna. I'm particularly interested in the wintering ecology of neotropical migrants, and in avian biogeography in general. You can follow me at - @domhall And find me at - AventuraArgentina.com