Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the January 9, 2005 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Komchen de Los Pájaros just outside Dzemul, Yucatán, Mexico

For a goodly portion of North American birders, the highlight of the birding year is being able to behold the spring arrival of migrating warblers. It's great seeing thrushes, tanagers, and the like returning, but there's just something extra-magical when warblers begin filtering through the trees with their complex songs and endless variations on the yellow, black and white plumage-theme.

I'd like to tell the warbler connoisseurs among you that from what I can see here your warblers are doing well. They don't look at all concerned about all the coldness and snow up North. It looks like this spring you'll get to enjoy yet another season of warbler spotting.

It occurred to me to tell you this on Thursday afternoon when I was sitting eating a pocketful of tangerines I'd just plucked, heard some chipping up in the Pixchoy tree, and the binoculars revealed a Black- throated Green Warbler. Of course he wasn't singing his wheezy spring-whistle and he wore his relatively drab winter plumage, but it was easy to see who he was, and he sure seemed to be having fun flitting about inside a little community of aphids.

Actually there were several Black-throated Greens around me. last week I'd seen several Palm Warblers wagging their tails on the trail next to my bungalow, but they're gone now, so I'm gathering the notion that at least some overwintering warbler species hang together in small flocks as the flocks slowly drift across the landscape, being in one place for a few days, then disappearing. That's just a hunch, though. Northern Parulas can be seen anytime.

Of course not all warblers overwinter here. Lots just pass through the Yucatan and keep going to spend winter farther south, and others migrate sticking to the highlands, avoiding the Yucatan Peninsula altogether.

According to Barbara MacKinnon's "Check-list of the Birds of the Yucatan Peninsula," here are the Yucatan's warbler species found here during the winter:

Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Northern Parula, Yellow, Magnolia, Cape May, Black- throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated, Prairie, Palm, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Worm-eating, Swainson's, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson's and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Species that just pass through here during spring and/or fall migration are:

Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Cerulean, Mourning and Canada.

Warblers living here permanently are:

Mangrove, Golden, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Golden- crowned and Gray-throated Chat.