My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

the ultimate birdQUIZ

Being a licensed bird bander requires you to not only know your birds but ultimately collected the data in the most scientific way possible. That includes being 100% sure about the species that you are banding or you are required to release the bird without a band on it. This is something as a bander that you would rarely want happening!! A fellow Bird Bander (and Western New Yorker) David Junkin captured this very unique bird that he couldn’t identify. He was stumped after reviewing the many field guides and other resources available to him. He took many measurements, photographs (every angle) and then released the unbanded bird without knowing if he would capture it again.

He continued researching this bird and casually sent an email to a few of the list servs on what other birders might have thought this warbler could have been (the email). I remember so many in-depth discussions of what kind of hybrid this could have been and who might have been its parents? I had heard everything from Common Yellowthroat to Blue-headed Vireo, to Canada Warbler, ect.. it was crazy for a while with all the guesses. Then the discussion stopped and it has been almost a year before seeing this warbler again on Birdchasers blog!! I followed the link that he provided and learned that they finally identified its parents!! I then did a google blog search on the bird and came across the artist who had done a painting of the Junkin’s Warbler. It was interesting to read how she was able to take the photos and turn them into a painting for Cornell Lab of Ornithology!

Going back in time, David did capture this bird for a second time and pulled two tail feathers for some DNA testing by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!! They have a wonderful article on the testing of this mystery bird. If you are wondering who might its parents be, you can get the answer by clicking this link | HERE |! It is amazing what you can learn from DNA and without doing this testing, we never could have figured out who its “TRUE” parents really are! It is hard to believe but you are looking at real science here!! I believe the lab reported that this is the first ever documentation of these two species hybridizing together.

What is great is that this bird will always be known as the Junkin’s Warbler. How many friends do you know with bird named after them??

21 responses

  1. WOW! What a great story. I really enjoyed your post, thanks!

    27 April 2007 at 10:39 pm

  2. I never would have guessed the parents of the ‘Junkin’s’. That is just so wonderful. Our Toledo hybrid returned for the fourth year in a row. I heard him the day after his arrival. Thrilling. Here’s the post by the birder who first identified it:
    “The Northern Parula X Cerulean Warbler hybrid I found 4 years ago at Wildwood Metropark has once again returned to the floodplain behind the Manor House. It was singing the primary Cerulean song for about the first 10 minutes , switched to a song I have never heard before (although it sounded more Cerulean than Parula), then sang the primary Parula song for the next hour with the alternate Parula song thrown in from time to time. The plummage of the bird appears the same as last year.” Cool, eh?

    27 April 2007 at 11:18 pm

  3. @ Trix, thanks and is very exciting!
    @ Cathy – that is very cool that this bird returned! They do know for sure its a Parual Cerulean hybrid? We had the Lawrence’s Warbler in one spot for 4 or 5 years! Was very fun to watch and I did get a slide photo of it before it died but not the best shot!

    27 April 2007 at 11:24 pm

  4. I love all the effort that went into IDing this weird bird.
    Imagine having a warbler named after you…COOL!

    28 April 2007 at 12:11 am

  5. I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy the photographs on your blog, especially of the birds. I don’t know a thing about birds but I like to watch them. I’ve never been out bird watching, not with equipment or even a cam, just outside on the porch swing or something. But I really enjoy it. Though I don’t know the names I can tell the difference between the pairs in my yard even if I’m inside. For some reason it makes me smile when I can tell who is who. And when the cicadas sing, I can hear a distinction. It’s pretty cool.

    Lastly, I’ve always wondered if city birds are overwhelmed by the noise of cars and radios and people talking. It must be deafening for them.


    28 April 2007 at 2:30 am

  6. What an interesting post. I am always amazed at the way birds look as they are being held in a human’s hand. They look so patient, so matter of fact.
    I found the story of the hybrid most instructive, like a little mystery novel–and I followed all the links to learn how it ends–with the bird’s parents revealed.

    28 April 2007 at 7:27 am

  7. Regarding the Toledo bird. There’s an interesting piece in The Ohio Ornithological website.

    Four years ago people got their ‘feathers ruffled’ and were ‘all a twitter over whether or not to pluck feathers from this bird. I think the ‘leave it alone’ contingent won. We’ll see. Now that it’s back a fourth year, people might not be able to resist getting the DNA.

    28 April 2007 at 7:34 am

  8. colleen

    Very interesting…. great post!

    28 April 2007 at 8:46 am

  9. I love my job, but if I was starting again with choosing a career, I would love to try your line of work! Thanks for sharing such interesting information in such a way that anyone can understand and enjoy reading about it.

    28 April 2007 at 9:04 am

  10. Now, THAT is cool! I agree with Ruth. In my dream life, I have your job!

    28 April 2007 at 9:24 am

  11. These photos are fabulous. THANKS! It’s good to know lots of people are trying to help and protect birds. Where we live, there is a controversy about killing sandhill cranes! If you have insight as to how to protect our few local cranes from 300 licensed killers, please let us know.
    Anyone who can explain why people want to trophy kill? We are trying to understand this very strange need.

    28 April 2007 at 12:36 pm

  12. Fascinating! You sure had my curiosity.

    28 April 2007 at 3:43 pm

  13. This is such a great story. It is so cool to see the parents and offspring. No wonder he couldn’t ID the bird, and to think it now has his name. Wow.

    28 April 2007 at 7:31 pm

  14. I think there should be a bird named after you, Mon@rch. That was a great effort to ID this bird – very interesting! It is, like Donna said, very cool to see the bird being held like that.

    28 April 2007 at 7:59 pm

  15. @ Susan – wouldn’t that be awesome?
    @ Austin – Thanks and enjoy taking the pictures! What is great about birding is that you can enjoy them is so many different ways! Regarding your question, I would have to assume if it bothered them they would fly away! I would be more worried about peoples pets that are caged than the wild birds!
    @ KGMom – Wasn’t this interesting and I can’t wait to talk to David the next time I see him! I just missed him at a meeting last fall! BTW: he does Saw-whet’s also!
    @ Cathy – thanks for the link and will go check it out! Regarding the bird, I would be in favor of getting its DNA!! Hope this bird helps those with making those decisions!
    @ Colleen – Thanks
    @ Ruth – this job isn’t about the money, let me tell you that! But do note my job is an office job, I do all these or most of these nature related things on my own personal time! With that in mind, you can do it also!
    @ jayne – Once it becomes a job it does feel like a job, keeping as a hobby makes it always interesting!
    @ Mia’s G- thanks and not sure why people are killing them! They are protected birds but if they are able to get the permits for killing them, they must have a good reason! They don’t just give out permits for killing for no reason! I would call your local conservation office and get more info!
    @ Larry – Thanks, isn’t this a great bird?
    @ Robin – wouldn’t it be crazy to see such a strange bird! Many times if we saw something like this out in the field we would end up with a big question mark?? But, being able to take so many great photos and DNA really can help tell us alot about these birds.
    @ Mary – why have a bird named after me, I have a butterfly!! O way, I am named after the butterfly!!

    28 April 2007 at 11:38 pm

  16. Tom, this was really interesting. You’re doing a great job with this blog! I always look forward to getting a few spare minutes so that I can catch up on the latest posts.

    29 April 2007 at 8:58 am

  17. Thanks jeremy- always looking for interesting local things to post! I just couldn’t help myself with this one!

    29 April 2007 at 3:06 pm

  18. We have/had a returning warbler at a local state park that looked like a Yellow-throated Warbler but sang a perfect Cerulean Warbler song.

    29 April 2007 at 7:18 pm

  19. Marg

    How cool is that! I don’t know anybody with a bird named after them-so far though maybe there will be a Mon@rch warbler someday ;D

    Loved this story!

    30 April 2007 at 9:17 am

  20. How cool is that. I love science.

    30 April 2007 at 10:47 pm

  21. That’s pretty amazing … beautiful shots of this interesting little warbler, and very cool on figuring out how they determined the parents. I’d love to see this bird’s image on the Hybrid Birds group on Flickr, along with your links…

    26 October 2007 at 12:34 pm

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