Pretty Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler female or juvenile (Setophaga coronata)

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is another of those birds that the bird sources describe as “very common,” but are infrequently spotted here in the park. This little creature was picking busily at things invisible to my eyes in a thicket of dried fennel canes atop the western ridge. I could barely make it out, and only got this photo by dumb luck. In the breeding season, the birds — particularly the males — wear a dramatic patchwork of black and yellow. Here in winter, modesty is the rule, and as with most bird species, the female is more conservative in her dress. This bird was probably pecking at tiny insects. It prefers insects of all reasonable sizes for its diet, but will also eat berries, seeds, and fruit. Some quirk in its digestive system allows it to thrive on waxy berries that other birds can’t digest; and this ability lets it spend winters farther north than many others. Like the Lesser Goldfinch, this warbler probably breeds not far inland at higher elevations, making fpr a comparatively short migration to our coast in winter. But some breed in Canada and may well have flown here as well.

Two days later I got lucky again. Another bird of the same persuasion appeared on the northern edge of the park. It ventured out in first morning light onto the bare branches of an old Coyote Bush. I did not have the best angle for the photo; the light was mostly behind the bird. After a few quick jumps from branch to branch, it dove down into the foliage. I changed position to put the sun behind me and waited for it to come back out. It did not, and I had to content myself with this photo:

Yellow-rumped Warbler female (Setophaga coronata)

More about them: Wikipedia Cornell Audubon In Chavez Park

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