COMMON YELLOWTHROATS ON ABACO: CHEERFUL WINTER WARBLERS
Abaco is fortunate to be home to the endemic BAHAMA YELLOWTHROAT Geothlypis rostrata, a striking bird with a dashing black mask and bright yellow body in the male. You can see it with its fellow endemics HERE. But there is similar winter resident species, the COMMON YELLOWTHROAT Geothlypis trichas, that can be seen on Abaco between October and March. Now is a very good time to look out for them. However, the two species are easy to confuse.
Common Yellowthroat (male)
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
- SIZE – the BW is slightly larger and sturdier than the CW
- BEAK – larger in the BW, and some might say it tends to be decurved
- COLOUR – the BW is more colourful, with more extensive yellow underparts and mask
- FEMALES – both species lack the mask and are duller; the female BW has a greyer head
- HABITAT – both are found in the same areas; the CW prefers denser vegetation near water
- DEBATEABLE – it seems to me the pale stripe behind the mask is usually less prominent in the BW
Common Yellowthroat male with conspicuous pale head-stripe
Both yellowthroat species are an endearing mix of shy and inquisitive. These birds are responsive to ‘pishing’, and once lured from cover they may remain nearby on low branches or shrubs watching you with interest as you watch them. Their song – similar in both species – is fairly easily imitated (or at least approximated), which may also bring them into the open – a source of great satisfaction to the amateur birder when it works. Unless it’s just coincidence, of course… The songs of the two species recorded below sound almost indistinguishable (except that the first one is professional and the second notably amateur…).
Todd Wilson / Xeno Canto
RH own recording
Female Common Yellowthroats are unassuming and quite delicate little birds. The first of these two images shows an immature bird, with its front beginning to become yellow. The second is a mature female.
Photo Credits: Erik Gauger (1); Tom Sheley (2); Bruce Hallett (3, 5, 6, 7); Dan Pancamo /Wiki (4); Becky Marvil (8) Audio: Xeno Canto; RH