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8275Probability Of “True” Ye llow-Throated Warbler Sig hting By SF Chronicle Co lumnist Tom Stienstra (?)

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  • Daniel Edelstein
    Dec 24, 2009
      Probability Of “True” Yellow-Throated Warbler Sighting By SF Chronicle Columnist Tom Stienstra (?)

      As some of you may have read, the outdoor section of last Sunday’s SF Chronicle contained a question from SF Chronicle Columnist Tom Stienstra as to whether his perceived sighting of a Yellow-Throated Warbler was possible.

      My opinion is “not likely,” based on the following reasoning:

      1. A common, arguably abundant, look-alike species to the Yellow-Throated Warbler for many folks (especially those new to watching wood-warber family/Parulidae family) is the Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Audubon subspecies: Dendroica coronata auduboni)

      Some individuals of this subspecies (that spends the non-breeding season/winter season in the Bay Area, but does not breed in most spots of the Bay Area, except, for example, some higher elevations, such as higher elevations amid Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais area) already are wearing breeding/alternate plumage.

      Thus, perhaps the Yellow-Rumped Warbler is the species Mr. Stienstra saw (?)
      I opine with the opinion that the answer is "yes," Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Audubon's subspecies).

      2. According to “Rare Birds of California” (Western Field Ornithologists, 2007, Appendix H-32), among 14 accepted records for this species, 11 occurred in the spring. The three accepted autumn/winter/non-breeding season records were along the coast at Point Reyes (9/16 – 9/29/06); inland near Needles, San Bernadino Co. (11/14 – 11/17/05) and Costa Mesa, CA (11/12/06 – 3/11/07).

      Then again, it’s always good to “never say never.”

      I’m humble to that fact.

      But it’s my judgment that without a photograph to document his sighting, it’s unlikely Mr. Stienstra’s observation was a Yellow-Throated Warbler (like the ones I have seen multiple times in Maryland, Virginia, and Florida while living and/or birding on the East Coast).

      Regards and happy holidays, Daniel Edelstein

      Daniel Edelstein

      Novato, CA (Bay Area)


      Ellison Bay, WI


      My two blogs:

      (my blog devoted to wood-warblers)

      (my blog focused on classes I teach at
      Merritt College in Oakland, CA, including my next
      one that begins in 11/09)

      12 Kingfisher Court
      Novato, CA 94949-6628 USA
      415-382-1827 (voice & DSL fax)
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