ABACO’S 38 WARBLERS: AN ILLUSTRATED ID GUIDE (Pt 1)
IT’S STARTED The great winter migration of warblers and their imminent arrival in The Bahamas is underway. Any day now – if not already – the ‘winter’ / ‘Fall’ (late summer & early spring as well) warblers will be arriving on Abaco. There are 38 warbler species recorded for the main island and the cays. For years, it was just 37. Exactly a year ago, a CANADA WARBLER was seen and photographed by well-known birder Chris Johnson. It was a first for Abaco – and the first-ever report for the Bahamas as well. You’ll find the story HERE.
First-ever Canada Warbler for Abaco & the entire Bahamas: Aug 2018 (Chris Johnson)
This post is the first of 3 warbler posts for the Fall. A while back I compiled a basic (in retrospect) guide to Abaco’s warbler species. I’ll give a link and pdf in due course once I have rechecked (improved? rewritten?) it. [Note: of no value on eBay, @m@z@n or anywhere else]. Many of the warblers are far from easy to distinguish from each other. For example, many males have yellow or yellow-and-black plumage. The females are invariably less colourful – often brownish or olive – than the males (as are juveniles), and that can lead to confusion – and not only by me, I think.
The guide divides the original 37 species into categories, with a code for each bird to show. You’ll see below the codes relating to each of the 5 resident species:
- Resident status – permanent / breeding, migratory or transient
- Frequency – likelihood of seeing each species in its season, rated from 1 (very likely) to 5 (extreme rarities, maybe recorded once or twice since c1950
Numerically, the division of the 38 breaks down into 3 categories:
- 5 permanent residents (PR) that breed on Abaco (B), of which two are ENDEMIC
- 21 winter residents (WR) ranging from ‘everyday’ species to rarities like the rare, vulnerable Kirtland’s Warbler (now under threat from proposed development)
- 12 transients, most of which you will be very lucky to encounter
The photos used in this series were almost all taken on Abaco / the Cays. There’ll be examples of the male of each warbler species, with some females for contrast. Where I have no Abaco / Baha images – especially with the transients – I have used other mainstream birding resources and Wiki. All due credits will be given at the foot of each post.
The warblers shown above are a mix of warbler species on Abaco: resident / endemic, winter migrants, and transient / vagrant. Time to take a look at the first category, the Bahamas-loving resident species that live and breed on Abaco
5 PERMANENT RESIDENTS
BAHAMA YELLOWTHROAT Geothlypis rostrata PR B 1 ENDEMIC
BAHAMA WARBLER Setophaga flavescens PR B 1 ENDEMIC
YELLOW WARBLER Setophaga petechia PR B 1
OLIVE-CAPPED WARBLER Setophaga pityophila PR B 1
PINE WARBLER Setophaga pinus PR B 1
In Part 2: Winter migrants from common to rare
PHOTO CREDITS Tom Sheley (1, 9, 11); Chris Johnson (2, 3); Alex Hughes (4); Nina Henry (5); Gerlinde Taurer (6, 7); Bruce Hallett (8, 10); Photos mainly from the archive collected for“THE DELPHI CLUB GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF ABACO” by Keith Salvesen