It’s bad enough to be named a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. But, when you’re called a “Myrtle Form Yellow-Rumped Warbler,” it’s time to go hide in the Cat Tails, as this little fellow was doing Wednesday (May 1).
In 1973, the American Ornithologist’s Union dictated that four American warblers should all be called forms of the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. These forms were the eastern Myrtle, western Audubon’s, Mexican Black-Fronted, and Guatemalan Goldman’s Warblers. There is now a proposal to reverse that decision and go back to considering each of these birds a separate species of warbler.
By the way, Mrytles were not named after someone’s great aunt. They got that name because they’re the only warblers that eat and can digest wax-myrtle berries, which are among the fruits and seeds in their diets when insects are not available. That broader diet helps them to be among the first and last migrating warblers that we see; in fact, some Mrytles reportedly are now staying north through the winter. (Brooklin, Maine)