Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the September 6, 2015 Newsletter issued from Yuxunah, 20kms southwest of Chichén Intzá, Yucatán, MÉXICO

Out among the weedy, abandoned cornfields all around town another common "weed bird" is the one shown below singing his heart out:

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, CHAMAETHLYPIS POLIOCEPHALA, singing

At first glance I wasn't sure what I was seeing, for the bird's feathers are in such disarray. Surely he'd just bathed, or maybe he was sick, despite his lusty calling, which was a rich warble similar to that of some buntings -- which is interesting because these weedy fields are prime bunting habitat. Is there something about a wide-open, weedy field that makes a bunting-type song so advantageous that a warbler species' song would evolve toward it?

Anyway, with that slender warbler beak, the yellow throat and blackish face and crown, it could only be the commonly seen Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, CHAMAETHLYPIS POLIOCEPHALA. In the old days the species was placed in the genus Geothlypis along with the North's Yellowthroat.

Below, you can see what a more composed Gray-crowned Yellowthroat looks like:


You might notice that this bird's beak -- distinctively pinkish-white below but with a black upper mandible -- is heavier than the Yellowthroats Northern birders are so familiar with. That's one reason the species was exiled from Geothlypis.

Gray-crowned Yellowthroats are distinctive species of weedy fields and pastures all through Mexico's tropical lowlands and all the way south through Central America into western Panama.