Yellow-throated Warblers on Long Island

The Yellow-throated Warbler, Dendroica dominica, is the most handsome of its tribe. This is of course my own opinion and I've long debated which Dendroica might win the prize. The Dendroica genus undoubtedly contains an array of spectacular looking wood warblers. Blackburnian once held the number 1 spot, then Cerulean. But now I am convinced that the Yellow-throated Warbler is the most striking of them all.

Yellow-throated Warbler - Photographed at Connetquot River State Park on 4/14/13
iScoped image taken with a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope and Meopix Adapter by Meopta
Yellow-throated Warbler - Photographed at Connetquot
River State Park on 4/14/13iScoped image taken with a
Meostar S2 Spotting Scope and Meopix Adapter by Meopta
Their name suits them quite well. They have a bright yellow throat that extends down the upper chest in an almost "bib-like" fashion. Notice the black face pattern that strongly contrasts with, and outlines, the upper yellow throat area. This, combined with slaty gray upper parts and some black flank streaking, makes for a great looking bird. 

Yellow-throated Warblers are still an uncommon sight on Long Island and in New York. Much of their breeding range is south and west of New York within New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where two known populations breed. The nominate, coastal race, Dendroica dominica dominica, and the more inland Dendroica dominica albifrons. There are physical differences to look for when attempting to separate these subspecies, but there is also much overlap and caution must be used when deciphering the two. Over the years, Yellow-throated Warblers have been expanding their range and has become an annual visitor to Long Island during migration. Long Island has yet to confirm a breeding record but it seems we might be getting close.


On Saturday, 4/14/13, I came across 3 Yellow-throated Warblers at Connetquot River State Park in East Islip. While this is a great single site number for Long Island, I was not entirely surprised to come across these birds. For the past 3 years, Yellow-throated Warbler have been documented at this location. Last year, my friend Chase Cammarota witnessed 2 birds perched on the same limb, within 2 inches from one another. Are these birds returning breeders? And is the third individual one of their kin? There are some subtle differences in the three birds that I observed but I cannot challenge that there are different subspecies within this group. Until more... I hope for a follow up post containing images of some recently fledged birds.

Yellow-throated Warbler - Photographed at Connetquot River State Park on 4/14/13
iScoped image taken with a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope and Meopix Adapter by Meopta


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