Monday, July 23, 2012

Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Geothlypis trichas

Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
     Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Geothlypis trichas (Top), and Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia (bottom) – Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Montana:  The common yellowthroat warbler is without a doubt the most wide-ranging warbler in North America.   I have encountered the common yellowthroat from Florida to Alaska, and from California to New Brunswick.  I have never noticed a difference in the appearance of this species. 
     The song sparrow on the other hand is a species whose range is almost as extensive as that of the common yellowthroat warbler. But, the song sparrow varies greatly in color across its range and is divided into 39 distinct races. 
    Both species inhabit similar habitat, so, it is not surprising that I found this common yellowthroat and song sparrow sharing the same patch of cattails in Metcalf NWR, just outside of Stevenville, Montana. 
     To photograph these birds I used a technique called “pishing.”  Using my van as a blind, I pulled along side a patch of cattails that looked perfect for the warbler.  Once I stopped I readied my camera through the open window of the van and began making a, PISHing sound.  Pishing is a real art, which yellowthroats, song sparrows and many other species excitedly respond.  The more I pished, the more interested the warbler was, and it was soon joined by an equally inquisitive song sparrow.  Both birds searched the cattails close to my van looking for the source of the sounds.
     In this case the yellowthroat was the first to respond, then the song sparrow. Though I was targeting yellowthroats, I was more than happy to get the song sparrow as well.  Both birds put on quite a show, providing great poses for frame filling shots.

Common Yellowthroat: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/500 sec. @ f8, Handheld on beanbag.

Song Sparrow:  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1,000 sec. @ f7.1, Handheld on beanbag

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