[Tweeters] A Rumpus Of Warblers

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 13 19:04:43 PDT 2019

This last Winter, and now into Spring, my Port Townsend neighborhood has
been blessed by a plethora of Yellow-rumped Warblers: I've been watching
them since December, and typically there will be bunch of them, 6 to a
dozen or so, flitting about in the nearby hedgerow, or small trees - here
and there..

Those numbers are estimates because I have a hard time counting the zippy
little things. ( I once floated the idea of renaming them the Zippy
Butterbutt, but the AOU didn't buy in to that post, I guess). Yes, sort of
tricky to keep count of them birds.

The last two wet cold breezy mornings have sent me indoors, where I watch
the warblers out the window of my nice warm office - perfect conditions for
incubating even more mildly ridiculous naming ideas, which I have. My new
idea for naming a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers is "a 'rumpus' of
warblers", which I think nicely sums up their typical group behavior of
free-wheeling commotion, and generally chasing each other around all the
time. I think a "rumpus" of warblers is right up there with a "rustle" of
towhee's, or "udders" of bushtits - names I've invented already for groups
of those birds. Whatever.

Really this all came about as I was trying to get a good look at what the
warblers were up to in a little flowering plum here in the yard. With all
their typical zipping around it took a while, but I think I figured it out:
the birds were "nectaring" on the flowers, much like I saw Western Tanagers
doing on English Laurel flowers back in Everett during the similarly cold
and wet May of 2008, On many snoops around the plum flowers the warblers
were obviously nabbing little bugs, then swallowing them, other times they
were apparently slurping on the flowers, sometimes even hovering like large
impaired hummingbirds.

Well, I hadn't heard about that but did confirm that sort of nectaring
behavior in several types of warblers, including butterbutts. I also found
out that all my naming schemes may be in vain 'cause some birdologists have
now figured that yellow-rumps really are separate species (by DNA) and not
just two, but four ( two of the four being south of our borders), so maybe
we're back to Myrtles and Audubon's again. Oh well, I write my life list in
pencil, just to keep flexible.

I did note that, seemingly, my rumpus was roughly split between Myrtle and
Audubon's anyhoo - doubly difficult to quantify, but so it goes - as DNA
guides us.

Jeff Gibson
just sayin' in
Port Townsend WA

PS: the warblers are still out there as I send this - they've been in that
little tree off and on for a day and a half!
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