Friday, March 23, 2012

First Yellow-rump!

I didn't go birding this morning due to rain and having to work early, but I'll probably bike through Pheasant Branch later on today, weather permitting. Yesterday I spotted my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of spring migration. Sparse for the moment, the yellow-rump faucet will turn into a trickle, and then a flood by early to mid April. I remember last spring there were thousands of them along the creek corridor trail for a few days. Seeing so many at the conservancy always brings a smile to my face. So, how does my March 22nd sighting compare with past years? here's my eBird data for Yellow-rumped Warbler:


For some birders it seems there's an element of disdain for common species like the Yellow-rumped Warbler; a mere "fault" of its own adaptive success. Years ago, a politician argued not to be overly concerned about habitat destruction and declining bird populations because it would mean more exciting and challenging birding for birders. It's the rarity that's generally coveted by birders, shrinking populations means some species are becoming rarer. Seeing a rare bird is a thrill, but it could be a vagrant that's common elsewhere. Someplace else, such rarities are probably under-appreciated as yellow-rumps are here.

But there's another way of looking at another type of rare bird. I've never seen the endangered Kirtland's Warbler at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. For a long time I thought my only opportunity to see one would mean a trip to Michigan, but now there are Kirtland's Warblers nesting in Wisconsin. Perhaps a sighting of one in southern Wisconsin now means they're becoming more common; this does render emotions of hope and joy that the species is potentially recovering. But the more common they become, I wonder if it will make them seem less special.

Link: Birdwatchers behaving like paparazzi

Yellow-rumped Warbler © 2012 Mike McDowell

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