Common YellowthroatGeothlypis trichas (Linnaeus)
Status Common in summer, very rare in winter. Breeds. Migrants normally appear from early to mid-May (average 11 May, earliest 25 April), and it is widespread in the province in summer. Small peaks of migration begin in September, with larger movements until mid-October and stragglers much later. It has occurred regularly on Christmas Bird Counts in Halifax and occasionally elsewhere, but the only later winter report is of a bird at Cole Harbour, Halifax County, on 20 January 1984 (R. Eaton).
Description Length: 11.5-14 cm. Adult male: A conspicuous, broad, black facial mask, bordered on crown by a narrow, whitish gray line; rest of upperparts, including wings and tail, olive-green; throat and breast rich yellow; belly white; undertail coverts yellow; flanks washed with brownish gray; no wing bars or white marks on tail. Adult female: Similar but lacks the black facial mask; lower breast and belly strongly washed with brownish gray.
Breeding Nest: Bulky and outwardly rough, composed of dead leaves, coarse grass and weed stems, with lining of fine black rootlets. It is placed at low heights, often only a few centimetres from the ground in low dense shrubbery, sometimes close to human habitation but usually far from it. Eggs: 4-5, more often 4; white, with relatively few speckles of various shades and densities of brown. Laying begins about 1 June; a female was seen carrying nesting material on 25 May 1922 at Albany, Annapolis County. A nest containing four fresh eggs was discovered at Gaspereau, Kings County, on 5 June 1908, and two nests, each containing four fresh eggs, were found by Harold F. Tufts at Caledonia, Queens County, on 20 June 1909.
Range Breeds from southeastern Alaska, the southern Yukon, northern Alberta, central Manitoba, central Quebec, and Newfoundland, south through the United States to Mexico. Winters from the southern United States south to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica.
Remarks This wren-like warbler, with an upturned tail and characteristic jerky flight, inhabits low, dense thickets and shrubbery adjacent to homes and farmlands and in barrens and regenerating logged areas, and is well known by sight and song. Both the male and female have a brilliant yellow throat, and the male has a black mask like that worn by a highwayman.
Its rollicking song has been written as witchery-witchery-witchery, with the accent on the "witch." Quite frequently the male, as though bursting with excess vitality, leaves his low perch and makes a short, ecstatic flight of 5-6 m up into the air, pauses and then, bubbling over with mixed melodies, flits jerkily back into the thicket's protective cover.
Its shape, coloration, habitat preference and general behaviour preclude its being confused with any other species.
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