Thursday, May 28, 2009

At the pond... Common Yellowthroat

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat, Tualatin River NWR, Sherwood, Oregon on 9 May 2009 by Greg Gillson.


About the first of April, Common Yellowthroats arrive in the Pacific Northwest and within days are found skulking about most wetlands habitats. Favorite habitat in much of the Pacific NW is blackberry tangles along water courses and ditches, but they are found in reeds and sedges and cattails out in the marsh, as well. Fewer numbers may be found in wet brushy meadows or low elevation clear cuts that have a lot of herbaceous undergrowth. Despite their secretive actions, their presence is exposed by their loud and distinctive song, given throughout the day: "witch-i-ty, witch-i-ty, witch-i-ty, witch." The call note is a husky: "chep."

Yellowthroats are small with a longer rounded tail. They are colored olive-green above, whitish on the belly, and with bright yellow throat and undertail coverts. The males have a black domino mask with a pale border on the forehead. Throughout their range males of the 13 different populations differ slightly in the width and color of the border above the mask (white, gray, yellow), the intensity and extent of the yellow on the underparts (more yellow in most southern populations), and the song arrangement.

These birds breed across Canada and the entire 48 states of the US, and into north-central Mexico. In winter, northern populations retreat south to coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico, SE US, southern California, through the Caribbean and Mexico to Panama.