Monday, 6 April 2015

B.O.T.D. Black-Throated Gray Warbler

Black-Throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)

Except for a tiny patch of yellow in front of each eye, the black-throated gray is somewhat of a drab warbler. But this colouring is to the bird's advantage. In its preferred habitat of young, more open conifer forests or regions of scrub growth  such as juniper, pinyon, or manzanita, its streaky plumage of black, white and grey blends right in with the bray-green foliage.

In keeping with such a somber suit is this bird's businesslike manner of feeding. Particularly in spring, when oak worms are abundant, it forages with well-ordered zeal, methodically checking ever leaf and twig for these ubiquitous green caterpillars.

Its nest, too, is carefully crafted and a masterpiece of camouflage. Typical of most warblers' nurseries, it is a neatly woven cup of dried grasses and weathered weed stalks, usually lined with moss and feathers, sometimes with horse or other animal hair, where available. The bird very cleverly conceals the nest in a small clump of leaves, large enough to disguise it but not so obvious that a predator would look for something hidden there. Ever the cautious conservative, the black-throated gray will take all sorts of evasive action to avoid leading you to its nest. But if you should manage to find it, in a flash, the bird becomes a master of the theatrical arts, feigning fits or injury so convincingly, it deserves a standing ovation.

Cornell Lab: Black-Throated Gray Warbler                                              Reader's Digest: Book of North American Birds