Monday, June 1, 2009

In the woods... Black-throated Gray Warbler

Black-throated Gray WarblerBlack-throated Gray Warbler, Hayward, Oregon on 16 May 2008 by Greg Gillson.

 

Black-throated Gray Warblers arrive in the Pacific NW in April. They breed in oak and mixed maples and Douglas-fir woodlands from SW British Columbia, west of the Cascades of Washington and Oregon, and in juniper and pine areas in central Oregon east across the southern portion of Idaho to Wyoming, and southward to SW New Mexico, SE Arizona, and southern California and extreme northern Baja California. They migrate out of the Pacific NW in September to winter in Mexico.

The plumage is black and white with a gray back and a little yellow dot on the lores, between the eye and bill. The throat of the adult male is black, while the female has a white throat and variable black breast band.

A similar bird is the Black-and-white Warbler found primarily east of the Rocky Mountains. It has a distinctive white stripe down the middle of the crown, though. The Black-throated Gray Warbler behaves as a typical warbler, gleaning insects from high in the tree canopy. Quite different, the Black-and-white Warbler crawls nuthatch-like over the trunk of the tree, quite close to the ground.

Another similar bird is the adult male Blackpoll Warbler in breeding plumage. It is also an Eastern species, found primarily in the West as a fall vagrant to desert oases. It has a solid black cap and obvious white cheeks.

Black-throated Gray Warblers have a buzzy song that you can listen to on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's online field guide website, All About Birds. The song is similar to two other Pacific Northwest warblers, the Hermit Warbler and the Townsend's Warbler.

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