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Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday's Foto

The Yellow-breasted Chat is the largest of the New World Warblers...or is it? Given its large size and other characteristics unusual for a warbler, the chat has long been considered an aberrant wood-warbler species. From Wikipedia:

"The yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird, widely considered the most atypical member of the New World warbler family, though the long-standing suspicion is that it does not actually belong there. Its placement is not definitely resolved. It is the only member of the genus Icteria."

The latest checklist of North and Middle American birds from the American Ornithologists' Union, however, still places this unusual songbird among the warblers.

Hidden in the understory, this skulking, secretive bird usually gives up its location through a series of loud squawks, whistles and clucks. They sound more like a mockingbird than the subtle vocalizations of other warblers.

While infrequently seen, they are quite widespread, breeding in dense shrubbery throughout much of the US. Most overwinter in coastal lowland Mexico to western Panama. A half-hardy species, some individuals stay through the winter as far north as New England. Like other warblers they are insectivores feeding on a variety of spiders, moths, beetles, ants, bees, grasshoppers, caterpillars and praying mantises. They also feed on berries and other wild fruit.

The IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Least Concern" due to their extremely large range and stable population trends.

Their scientific name, Icteria virens, means "yellow bird" and "green". Yellow, no doubt for their bright yellow underparts and green for their olive green upper parts.

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