The Yellow-rumped warblers have been a nice surprise visitor over the past several weeks at Nisqually. I found them most often hanging around the boardwalk near the visitor center. What alerted me to them was the aerobatic pursuit of insects along the brush.
I found them incredibly quick and quite playful. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought they were performing just for me. I have included photos but I am still unclear as to whether I was seeing juveniles or females. A few of my shots show more brown which is indicated in both.
The adult males have more gray, a yellow rump and yellow on their sides. The females and juveniles have more brown and are a bit duller. These warblers are about the size of a black-capped chickadee. In spring, the color of these birds will dazzle. In summer months, both sexes are a smart gray with flashes of yellow on the face, sides and rump, with white on the wings.
They are mostly divided into two groups, Myrtle and Audubon. While the Audubon yellow-rump is more prevalent in the west, it is the Myrtle that is a common migrant and winter resident in Washington. I welcome any confirmation or correction of any of this info.
In apprearance, the Audubon warbler has a yellow throat patch and a dark plain face. The Myrtle has a pale white throat patch and a thin eyebrow strip. It is my understanding the hybrids of these two can also be seen here in the Northwest. I think the yellow-rumped warblers I spent the morning with were Myrtles.
While mostly insect eaters, they are the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles. This may explain why they are able to winter further north. They feast on these berries as well as on poison ivy and oak and fruiting shrubs.
They pair up in spring and raise two broods each season. The female is responsible for building the nest, often with help from the male who provides materials. In courtship, the male accompanies the female everywhere (that must be annoying ☺).
The spiritual meaning of the warbler has to do with joy and wholeness of self. They are often nicknamed “butter butts” or “wild canaries” and groups of them are called a stream, a sweetness or a trepidation.
I hope to see more of these in spring and summer and have a chance to witness their courtship rituals. The conservation status of these birds is “low concern” as they are still abundant and widespread.
As always, your feedback is welcome as I learn more about the natural world around me. Thanks for joining me here.