By: Leigh Edwards
Date: May 12, 2000
This past Saturday was quite a day. It included wind, rain, hail, and a total of 72 different bird species in our monthly Birdwalk. Lots of small birds were spotted in the mostly leaf-free bushes along the Valley Trail, and there was a host of waterfowl on Alta Lake. In spite of stiff competition, the stars of the day were the Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are small, handsome birds that are common in Whistler in spring and summer. It was difficult on Saturday to get a clear view of the few flittering in the spruces and pines heading out to Rainbow Park. But once the Birdwalk proceeded to the viewing platform on Alta Lake, there weren’t enough eyes to count all the bright yellow-patched rockets flying amidst the reeds.
True to its name, this bird is identified by the yellow patch on its rump. There are also splashes of yellow on the throat, crown, and shoulders which contrast strikingly with the male’s blue-grey plumage. The female’s patches are less conspicuous against her mostly brown-streaked body.
The call of this Warbler is not as spectacular as the songs of some other Warblers. One author unflatteringly described the call as: “a colourless, buzzy warble,” followed by “a sharp check!”
The Yellow-rumped Warbler used to be considered to be two separate species: the yellow-throated “Audubon’s Warbler” in western North America, and the white-throated “Myrtle Warbler” in the east. Where their ranges overlap, the western and eastern forms were found interbreeding, so they were lumped together under the one name.
There’s lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers darting around Whistler now. Look up in the trees and you might see a flock of little yellow rumps frolicking amongst the boughs.