Saturday, January 3, 2009

Immature goldencheek?

Someday I’ll get a great Golden-cheeked Warbler shot. Until then, these will have to do.

Today’s bird was found feeding in the top of a fairly tall oak, and subsequently seen feeding in other oaks and a pine briefly. These birds do love oaks, but are more easily found in pine-oak forest, compared to pure oak forests. The throat of this bird was mostly yellow, fairly evident in the second photo. Its upperside was olive, lighter than on yesterday’s bird, though still darker than on a Black-throated Green Warbler, one of which was also in today’s flock.

I know how difficult it is to separate different sex and age classes of this species without having the bird in the hand, so I can’t tell you what it is. My best bet would be a first winter bird, possibly a first winter female, though it may just be a very lightly marked adult female, or a first winter male. I did not see any black streaking on the upperparts, but the views I got were OK, not great. We were able to follow it for a while, but it never came close.

Other birds that were a bit more cooperative today were this adult male Townsend’s Warbler (above) and this adult female Olive Warbler (below).

Previous goldencheeks here were all part of large flocks, and were often the last ones to be identified in these flocks. Today's bird was one of the first birds I identified in this much smaller flock, of only 29 individuals. Ironically, this flock was found in disturbed habitat: some of the area had been logged, and this was still going on. But there were still a fair number of pines standing, with oaks in the middle layer. For now, the logging had merely opened things up a little, and that's what they like.

But one has to wonder whether this part of the forest will still be there a few years from now.

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