Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bird of the month: Cape May Warbler

I know it is not a surprise, our bird of the month is the beautiful Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina). This warbler is found only as a rare vagrant in Panama, but so far, there have been three reports of four different birds this season, including a pair in a same locale. Simply outstanding! The Cape May Warbler breeds in coniferous forests of Canada and northern United States, migrating through most part of eastern United States to its winter ground mainly in the Caribbean, but also in Mesoamerica and northern South America, where it prefers all sort of habitats, including gardens and residential areas. As you can see in the photos, the male is beautifully patterned in bright yellow and black, with rufous cheeks and a white wing panel. This pattern is the reason of its scientific and spanish name (in spenish its is the Reinita Tigrina, kind of "Tiger Warbler"). As usual with the warblers, the female is much duller, but still distinctive even with its basic plumage thanks to the yellow on the face, the yellow rump and the streaked underparts. This species have an unique curled and semitubular tongue which it uses for collecting nectar in its wintering grounds (as you can see in Osvaldo's photos in Xenornis), the reason why they prefer flowered trees. For these, and many others reasons is why we choose the Cape May Warbler as our bird of the month!
Literature consulted:
1. Angehr G, Dean R. The birds of Panama. A field guide. 2010.
2. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All about birds: Cape May Warbler at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cape_May_Warbler/id.

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