Monday, June 21, 2010

Where are They Now, Installment 2: Northern Waterthrush

[Northern Waterthrush, Moose Bog VT, June 13 2010. Click to enlarge photos.]

More from our recent boreal forest trip: Northern Waterthrush. Both waterthrushes are early migrants, but only Louisiana is "available" in Cape May in June, nesting along streams in the northern part of the county, though not on Cape Island. NJ's Breeding Bird Atlas found a few possible/probable Northern Waterthrushes in Pine Barrens cedar swamps north of Cape May County, and Northern is a regular though somewhat uncommon breeder from northern NJ (and extreme northern VA in the mountains) northward. Most derive from the species' vast breeding range, which spans New England, the northern U.S., much of Alaska, and enough of Canada to make me want to propose "Canadian Warbler" as an alternate name. The next Northern Waterthrush in Cape May will be detected mid July; their migration peaks late August/early september, when Louisiana's has all but ended, and extends well into October. It's a common bird in migration, with over 600 a year recorded at Morning Flight, common enough that learning it's rising zeep flight note is worth working on.

[This was not the yellowest Northern Waterthrush, nor did it have much in the way of streaking on the throat, just a few spots. Throat streaking on waterthrushes is one of those "one way" field mark: if you get a look allowing you to see prominent throat markings, it is almost certainly a Northern; if you don't, well, maybe you just can't see the markings that are there, or maybe, like on this bird, they are faint. Note, however, how dense and dark the breast streaks are on this bird, denser than on Louisiana, and that the eyebrow doesn't widen behind the eye (top pic). Same bird as above.]

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