Brewster's Warbler east of Aurora

Ronald J. Fleming ronaldj..fleming at sympatico.ca
Sat Jun 7 15:19:08 EDT 2003


Today is "Atlassing Day" across Ontario, so I went out to do some point
counts east of Aurora with the assistance of Kevin Shackleton and Paul
Cottenden.  Most species we observed were common ones, but of regional
interest were NORTHERN GOSHAWK (calling from the southwest side of
Kennedy and Vandorf Roads) and PURPLE FINCH (calling from the northeast
side of Kennedy and St. John Roads).  Best bird of the day, however, was
a BREWSTER'S WARBLER which caught at our attention as it sang from the
east side of Warden Avenue north of the Wellington/Aurora Road.

We at first thought it to be a Golden-winged Warbler because of the "bee
buzz buzz buzz" vocal pattern, but due to hybridization between the
latter species and Blue-winged Warbler, we made it a point to track the
bird down for visual identification.  Aside from the song, this bird
also had a golden wing panel (vs. two gold bars) like the Golden-winged,
but its head pattern was that of a Blue-winged Warbler: a bright yellow
crown and dark black eyeline. The distinctive throat and auricular
markings of GWWA were absent.  The throat, breast and undersides were
white.  Based on the guides we consulted (Sibley & Peterson), we believe
it be a male Brewster's backcross.

This bird was, at least for awhile, easily heard from the roadside.  To
access this location, turn north from the Aurora/Wellington Road onto
Warden and follow it about two kms until you see the railway crossing
sign on the east side of the road.  Stop and listen.  The bird spent a
short time in the large tree south of the roadside lilacs (east side of
Warden).
There is a laneway just south of the RR tracks that is shared by a
private residence and the Trails Youth Initiative Centre (which is part
of the Pangman Springs property once owned by the Lake Simcoe Region
Conservation Authority).  Permission is required to enter this area, but
with patience, the bird could be heard and, for a while, seen from the
roadside.  You can also see an active Bank Swallow colony if you look
northeast (a pair of Kingfishers shares this nesting bank), and you may
hear or see the ALDER FLYCATCHER which is on territory on the perimeter
of the grassy field.  The Brewster's Warbler flew as far away as the
easternmost reaches of this field, but was singing from the deciduous
trees on the south side of the field (behind the small conifers and
within 20 meters of the roadside) when we left.

Ron Fleming, Newmarket

The areas described above are east of Hwy. 404, not very far north of
Toronto.

"Ronald J. Fleming" <ronaldj..fleming at sympatico.ca>

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