The folks in the Riverwalk Bird Club don't just watch birds. The group includes some excellent photographers.
Nooga.com Outdoors is happy to share their great photos by featuring a Bird of the Week.
This week, we feature a golden-winged warbler, photographed by Dick Schier.
A boldly marked warbler with a color pattern all its own, golden-winged warblers are slim, silvery-gray birds with golden flashes on the head and wings. They breed in wet, shrubby tangles of the Upper Midwest and Appalachians, and they spend winters in open woodlands and shade-coffee plantations. They have suffered severe population declines in the past half-century. They often hybridize with blue-winged warblers, producing a range of distinctive forms.
—Golden-winged warblers have suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird species in the past 45 years, but the Cornell Lab and partners in the golden-winged warbler working group have a conservation plan to stop the decline and grow the population 50 percent by the year 2050.
—Minnesota has the highest-remaining density of golden-winged warblers, with about half the global population.
—Recent work with radio transmitters has expanded our knowledge of golden-winged warbler habitat. The birds breed in shrubby, tangled thickets and other "early successional" habitats. But after the chicks fledge, the families move to mature forest habitats to continue raising their young.
—Golden-winged warblers often hybridize with the closely related blue-winged warbler. The blue-winged warbler has been expanding its range, and hybridization has been one element in the sharp decline of golden-winged warblers.
—Hybrids tend to develop into one of two distinctive plumages, which early naturalists at first thought were separate species: Brewster's warbler (which looks like a blue-winged warbler with a white chest) and Lawrence's warbler (which looks like an all-yellow golden-winged warbler).
—Hybrids do not sing intermediate songs but sing either normal blue-winged warbler or golden-winged warbler songs. Some birds sing both. Occasionally, pure-looking parental types sing the "wrong" song.
—Golden-winged parents may use trickery to protect their young from predators. Adults feeding nestlings have been observed repeatedly carrying food down other plant stems away from the nest, possibly as a decoy, when they detected humans nearby.
—The oldest known golden-winged warbler was at least 7 years old when it was caught and released at a banding station in Minnesota.
This information is courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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